God reaches out to touch us with His love, and those whose faithful hearts are open can feel that loving touch. Jacob Schulfer, 20, of Custer first felt God’s touch at the end of high school.
“What really got me into the Faith was the summer before my senior year; I went to a conference at Steubenville,” says Jacob.
During the conference, there was a scheduled time for adoration. It was a large crowd of young people, but Jacob only saw Christ.
“It really kind of blew my mind,” he says. “I didn’t really notice the other people in the room. The whole experience struck me.”
Jacob had a foundation of Faith in his life thanks to his family. His parents are Catholic and passed their love of the Catholic Faith on to Jacob, providing him with a Catholic education.
Jacob connected with his Faith and Mass growing up.
“Through elementary school and high school, I was a Mass server,” says Jacob of his activity at Sacred Heart Parish in Polonia. “At the end of high school, I started reading at Mass.”
Leaving to study engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville two years ago, his Catholic Faith was not at the forefront of Jacob’s mind. “I went to college and I wasn’t really thinking about church or anything, but there were these booths with different groups set up,” Jacob says. “The Newman Center had a booth. I talked to them, and I was struck by how nice the people were. I started going to Newman events—they have Newman dinners every Wednesday. I started attending a Bible study and started my own Bible study.”
He started going to weekday Mass and adoration several times a week. Faith became a place of refuge for him during his busy college life.
“I liked taking a break from my classes and going over to the Newman Center,” he says.
Bible study has been a way to learn more about God, but it also provides a valuable time for fellowship. The Newman Center begins with a large Bible study and then smaller Bible study groups branch off.
“The Bible studies are one of our biggest tools for evangelization. We get together every week. There are five or six of us,” says Jacob. “We pick a passage, read the history and talk about how it affects us. Everybody thinks differently and sees something different in the passages.”
Jacob has been an active evangelizer at college with his friends, some of whom are Catholic, while most are not. “The community at college is the best tool for evangelization—people bringing their friends to church,” Jacob says. “It’s really cool to get your friends to come along. They are really interested in what’s going on at church, even if they don’t totally understand it.”
Once a semester, there is a procession of the Eucharist around campus that gets a positive response from the students. “They will walk it around campus, and we will pray a rosary behind it,” says Jacob. “That’s something that I think is kind of special about Platteville. You get a lot of small-town people. People are a little more open.”
Jacob spends time in prayer regularly.
The Bible studies are one of our biggest tools for evangelization. We pick a passage, read the history and talk about how it affects us.” –Jacob
“I pray to St. Anthony a lot because I lose things a lot,” Jacob says. “I also pray a lot to the Blessed Mother. Last year, we did a Marian consecration. It kind of changed the way I pray. When I think something is over my head, I pray that Mary perfects my prayers.”
Recently engaged, Jacob shares his strong Faith with his fiancée, Julia Tutton. The couple met in high school and although they attend different colleges—Julia studies archaeology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse—their connection to each other and their Catholic Faith has grown.
“It’s really nice having her because she and I push each other to be stronger in our Faith,” says Jacob. “If one of us has a bad day, the other one is always there saying, ‘Let’s go to Mass or adoration.”
“The community at college is the best tool for evangelization–people bringing their friends to church.”
Last year, they attended Mass together once a week. Every day during Lent, Jacob and Julia prayed a rosary together over the phone.
As they are planning their life together, Faith is at the forefront for them. “I really want to have a family in the future and I really want to be able to teach the Faith to them. I will continue reading at Mass,” Jacob says. “We’ve talked about how we would probably volunteer to help out with marriage prep and hosting Bible studies.”
For those who are unsure of how to move closer to God, Jacob believes the process is a simple and unintimidating one. “There’s no way that it could ever hurt you, spending your time praying or at a church. It can only do you good,” he says. “Even if you don’t have a strong relationship with God, just the time alone in quiet reflection will help. God is there even if you don’t know it.”
Sharing the Faith with others is not complicated either. “I think it starts off with just you,” says Jacob. “Pray that other people will be touched by God. In doing that you are helping yourself out. Always invite friends and family to pray with you and come to Mass with you. It doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary. I think it’s good to start small. If you try to go in with guns blazing, you can overwhelm yourself.”
Story by Mary Kay McPartlin
Photography by Michael Lieurance