By Laurie Stupak, President, U.P. Catholic Foundation
Like all mothers, Hilda Tamayo-Silva felt nervous and apprehensive when her son, Eryk, informed her that he had found the perfect college which she knew very little about. Eryk assured her that this college offered the perfect program that would enable him to pursue his dream of obtaining a degree in engineering. What interested Eryk the most was the fact that this college program offered hands-on learning beginning day one.
Hilda and Eryk lived in the Chicago area. Eryk had taken some classes at one of the colleges nearby, but he had been disappointed. For Eryk, there was too much emphasis on bookwork and not enough hands-on experience. The college that Eryk wished to attend was Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI. Neither Hilda nor Eryk had ever traveled to Marquette and didn’t know much about the area. They just knew NMU was located in Michigan’s very rural, but beautiful, Upper Peninsula, along Lake Superior and it was approximately 400 miles away from their home in Chicago.
Just before the fall semester began, Hilda, her mother, and Eryk traveled to Marquette to get Eryk settled in his new apartment. Hilda stated, “I found Marquette to be warm and inviting. Coming from a big city with concrete all around, the pine trees and abundance of nature was refreshing. I live near Lake Michigan, so seeing Lake Superior so close to town was comforting for me as I felt Eryk would find comfort in seeing the similarity to home. The UP offered everything Eryk needed to live comfortably which provided reassurance for me.”
When Eryk arrived on campus, he didn’t know anyone. Fortunately, he loved his classes. Northern was just what he had been looking for and he began to adjust to college life. Back in Chicago Hilda worried. Would Eryk find friends to hang out with? Would they be a positive influence on him? Would he continue to practice his Catholic Faith? Would he be safe and happy?
One evening in swing dance club, a young woman named Amanda invited Eryk to join her for a Catholic Campus Ministry Session at St. Michael’s Parish. It was there at CCM-NMU during a “Food for Thought” meeting that Eryk first met Father Brandon Oman. Eryk and Father Brandon hit it off immediately. They had so much in common. Eryk remarked, “I couldn’t believe that I had met a priest who loved dirt bikes as much as I did!”
Eryk loved being a part of the Campus Ministry group. Not only did he grow in his Faith through Scripture Readings and spiritual development, Eryk also lived his Faith by volunteering for community service projects through St. Michaels Parish. Eryk found that CCM involvement offered more than prayers, scripture studies and community service activities. CCM-NMU students also took part in camping and hiking expeditions, and visited many of the beautiful and historic sites the UP has to offer. Eryk and Fr. Brandon developed a close, spiritual friendship and the CCM students were kind and welcoming and provided a profound positive influence. CCM-NMU became Eryk’s “happy place” and he made friends and gained confidence. Every week, when he talked with his mother, Hilda began to feel more at ease about her son being so far away. During one of Hilda’s visits to Marquette, Eryk brought her to CCM to meet his friends and Father Brandon. Hilda could easily understand how CCM-NMU had become such a safe, secure, comfortable, and spiritual home for her son.
Hilda was planning to update her will and asked Father Brandon for advice and spiritual guidance. Hilda told Fr. Brandon how grateful she was to CCM-NMU for guiding and supporting Eryk during his time at Northern. CCM-NMU not only supported Eryk through his faith journey, it also helped him grow and mature into a fine young man. Father Brandon informed Hilda about the CCM-NMU Endowed Fund within the UP Catholic Foundation. Hilda stated, “When Father Brandon told me about the CCM-NMU endowed fund I knew that a bequest to the CCM-NMU Fund was the perfect fit for me, just like Northern and CCM-NMU were the perfect fit for Eryk”.
Hilda’s legacy gift to the CCM-NMU Endowment Fund not only provides a great opportunity for her to give back and share her strong Catholic Faith, it also allows her to continue to spread the faith to future generations. Hilda is grateful to Fr. Brandon and CCM-NMU for protecting and nurturing her son, Eryk. CCM-NMU helped Eryk build confidence, excel in his studies, and strengthen his relationship with God. Hilda believes that their story and her gift to CCM-NMU will help provide future mothers, fathers, sons and daughters an opportunity to grow in their faith and love for Jesus.
Looking to support Catholic Campus Ministry at NMU?
Click here to make a one-time gift or set up recurring donations to support their endowment fund in the U.P. Catholic Foundation.
To learn more about planned giving, visit www.dioceseofmarquette.org/planmygift.