Catholic Gators Blog

Inquietum Est Cor Nostrum


December 2016

The Catholic College Student’s Guide to Surviving Finals Week

Finals week is rough and we all know it.  Whether you have one exam or ten exams, this week can be hard on your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.  That is why I have compiled for you a nifty guide to keep you sane and take that five minute break from studying!


Survival tip #1: Daily Mass

Daily mass is a wonderful opportunity to help you destress and remember what this college thing is all about.  You aren’t studying for exams for nothing.  God has called you to the collegiate vocation.  Mass might be a great reminder of that!  Also, mass usually only lasts about 30 minutes, so treat this as your study break!  A little reflection time can go a long way.  Taking a break can even help you refocus and study better.  Daily masses are offered at St. Augustine Catholic Church at 12:00pm and 5:30pm.  If you are not a member of St. Augustine’s make sure to check out your parish’s website for daily mass times!


Survival tip #2: Christmas Music

Do finals have you feeling like Christmas isn’t even close to coming?  Get in the holiday spirit by listening to this great Christmas playlist while you work!  These traditional Christmas songs will lift your spirits and remind you that after all of this is over Jesus is coming!


Survival tip #3:  Bring Our Lady of Guadalupe into your exam?

Hey, he did it.  So can you.

Found on Samy Irssak Facebook page

Survival tip #4:  Pray to St. Joseph of Cupertino

What better saint to pray to than the saint of students, test takers, and studying?  St. Joseph of Cupertino had difficulty with education himself, so he definitely knows what we are going through.  Do not hesitate to say this quick prayer before your exams or while you are studying!

O Great St. Joseph of Cupertino who while on earth did obtain from God the grace to be asked at your examination only the questions you knew, obtain for me a like favor in the examinations for which I am now preparing.

In return I promise to make you known and cause you to be invoked. I will also imitate your life of prayer and devotion.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

St. Joseph of Cupertino, Pray for us.


Survival tip #5:  Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater

Photo by:

Because ugly Christmas sweaters are warm and cozy for those long nights at the library and you will look super cute!


Survival tip #6: Procrastinate

I mean if Father Mike Schmitz says so…?  But, seriously.  Watch this video, it will give you a great perspective on how to finish studying for these exams.


Survival tip #7: Fellowship

Spend some time with friends this week.  Grab dinner with your roommate.  You have to eat anyway, so why eat alone?  Even studying with a friend can make a big difference.  Isolating yourself makes studying more depressing.  Also, friends can keep you accountable!  They will make sure you stay on track rather than reading random blogposts on Facebook.  Oh wait. No, stay!  I only have one more survival tip and I assure you it is worth reading.


Survival tip #8: Read the Bible

The Bible is great tool when you are feeling stressed or unsure of your future.  I found this verse which speaks to me, but I encourage you to browse through the Bible today and find one that speaks to you.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4)


Written by: Kayla Thurber, Restless Heart Communications

Featured image by: Andrew Imanaka



Coming Together and Changing Lives: The Gators for Venezuela Initiative


I don’t know if you’ve heard of the situation in Venezuela, but things are not good. And they haven’t been for a long time. People are suffering, starving, dying every single day of disease, malnutrition, and there’s a real problem with the corruption of the government. The media in the US doesn’t do a great job of showing it, either, so you have to seek it out, like so many other tragedies. But once you find it, you can’t ignore it.

It’s not every day that we as college students get a real taste what might be outside the “UF Bubble,” and get to help out those around us. I have lots of Latino friends, and am first-generation American, but hadn’t heard of these things until this past summer. Or at least, it hadn’t actually been solidified in my mind that it’s incredibly serious. Luckily, though, other people do recognize the need for change – whether they’re Venezuelan or have a passion for humanitarian work.

The week of the Gators for Venezuela Initiative, held Oct. 16-22, showed me just how generous people can be, and how much we need to work together to help those in need.

Ignacio Bravo serves as president of VENSA, the Venezuelan Student Association on UF’s campus. He and his e-board were the original creators of the initiative, when a member of his organization suggested to spread the word about what was happening in their country. Then, VENSA went a step further and decided to do a food and medicine drive to actually send supplies to the people in need.

When Allie Jackson, a half-Venezuelan advertising major with a heart big as can be, heard about the campaign, she said she was moved for her people.

She presented the idea to Restless Heart Communications, a Catholic Gators ministry, and from there, the Venezuela Initiative was born. It was a weeklong series of events that included tabling, raising awareness, hosting different activities, collection donations, and partnering with other campus organizations to spread the word about what is going on.

“Things like this are really important because they help you really put your life in perspective,” Allie said. “It was truly beautiful to see separate communities come together and pray for our loved ones and those suffering.

The week started of with a game night and food drive. Tuesday at Gator Salsa, there were more than 80 people, and donations filled two entire boxes.

Allie said Wednesday was the most special night for her. A prayer vigil at St. Augustine Church was held for the people of Venezuela, and more than 75 people attended and 150 donations were collected.

“To be honest, when we started the campaign, I did not expect that many people to get involved,” Ignacio Bravo said. Among VENSA, Catholic Gators, the Hispanic Student Association, PorColombia, Gator Salsa, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, La Casita and la Salita, the 6-day campaign was a success, he said.

The Restless Heart Communications team also created graphics and videos several times during the week,shared their events to raise awareness on social media, and also placed an ad in The Alligator. The videos are real perspectives taken from families, students and other people living the reality of Venezuela.


The flyers helped spread awareness all over campus, and people came in all week asking where they could drop off donations. It was incredible to see that happen – people who weren’t involved in any of the organizations, but still wanted to support.

Thursday and Friday, the donations came mostly in the form of money, starting with Mass on the Grass, where 110 students attended. Then, at a fundraising event in partnershipwith Omi’s Tavern, a portion of proceeds went to the Initiative.

VENSA doubled all donations to its Venmo account, @gators-for-vzla, and the grand total came to $1,758.

So what’s next? What was VENSA and RHC supposed to do with all the donations? Venezuela’s corruption makes it difficult to send things to the country and ensure they get the proper destination, so it was critical for the group to find a parent organization to partner with and pass on the donations.

Ignacio found the Move Foundation, and its vice president, Janeth Aviles, who joined the organization in November 2014.

“Our goal is to accomplish precisely with dedication, love, passion and by the hand of God our mission in Venezuela,” she said.

The main mission, she said, is to provide assistance to families, children and the elderly, and students to fight the economic crisis, lack of food and medicine. She says the hardest part is seeing her Venezuelan brothers and sisters suffering, but when events like these happen, that she knows there’s hope.

“This is the first time college students are getting involved,” she said. “They are a great blessing to our cause.”

They use the money collected to ship the goods, and once they arrive, people from Move distribute them according to the needs they see, directly to the people.

Aviles sends her thanks and emphasizes that it wouldn’t be possible without the love and support of everyone involved. For more information, visit:

There is so much we can do, even if it seems like a situation is hopeless, or we’re too far away. One bag of rice. One bottle of aspirin. One package of diapers. Anything and everything has contributed so much to the success of this campaign. The unity among students of different groups, nationalities, beliefs, and walks of life was so evident during the Venezuela Initiative week.

We are changing lives. Thank you for your support. It wouldn’t be possible without you.


Written by: Elena Castello, Restless Heart Communications

Featured image by: Royce Abela, Restless Heart Communications


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