As a Catholic and an engineer, I find there to be a daily struggle with integrating my faith life into my career. There seems to be a transition between my work mindset and Catholic mindset at 5 PM every day. This has nothing to do with the fabled conflict between faith and science, but rather the difficulty to find the relevance of faith in an engineering setting. Now, this is not to say that when working I turn off my moral compass or stop believing in God, but rather the difficulty to consciously see an application of my Catholic Faith in the day-to-day work that I do. Despite these struggles, I’ve found a few ways to keep the faith alive while at the office and when I was in graduate school.
#1- Daily Readings and Reflections
I don’t know about you, but I find it challenging to pop out of bed and spend time with the Lord during my hectic morning routine. One routine I seem to religiously check is my email. It is the first thing I do when my computer boots up at the office. Using your work email to sign up for the mass readings or Gospel reflections is a great way to start the day on the right foot. I’ve signed up for emails from Word on Fire and the USCCB for daily reflections and readings, but there are many resources out there that fit personal preference. Because the content comes straight to your work email, it is easier to take a moment and read through the content without worrying about your boss seeing you on a Catholic website. No matter what it is, getting regular access to the Word of God is a great way to build up your relationship with Him.
#2- Pray Throughout the Day
Saint Teresa of Calcutta once said, “We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Perhaps you can’t take a 20-minute break to say a rosary or attend daily mass during your lunch break. Luckily, there are other alternatives to bring prayer into your time at work or school. The commute into work is a great time to spend with the Lord either by praying or by listening to Catholic Radio or podcasts. Saying grace before lunch is another way to bring the Lord into your routine. I’ve even said “Hail Marys” on my way to refill my water bottle. Taking a moment to remove your mind from the chaos of our over-connected lives and focus on the divine is a great way to keep yourself rooted outside of Mass.
#3- Share Your Catholic Identity
You don’t need to have a massive crucifix in your office cube or carry around rosary beads to every meeting to share your Catholic identity with colleagues. There are many ways to display your identity. One such way could be a small Nativity scene around Christmas on your desk or an Icon of the Blessed Mother in your cube. I keep a Benedictine medal on my ID badge lanyard. Perhaps you happen to have a Catholic Engineer’s sticker on your laptop? You could even have a pro-life bumper sticker that your coworkers see when you drive into work. Small symbols can start conversations that lead to conversions or opportunities to meet other believers at work. There are all kinds of ways that you can bring our rich Catholic culture into the workplace, and you can be as obvious or discrete as you are comfortable with.
#4- Don’t Shy Away from Discussion
One thing I’ve noticed in the past few years of my professional career is how unprofessional non-believers can be regarding Christian beliefs and practices. There are so many misconceptions and lies about Catholicism circulating in our culture that it became taboo to speak up in the name of truth. If someone starts the conversation about the Church, you have every right to participate in the conversation and an obligation to correct inaccuracies. This doesn’t mean you have to launch an inquisition, but prayerfully and compassionately share what a practicing Catholic knows to be true.
#5- Join a Community of Like-Minded Believers
This is a bit more challenging for science-minded individuals and a goal at Catholic Engineers. It’s common to feel like the only believer at work or school and the chances of finding another faithful Catholic is unlikely. Your best chances are running into them on Ash Wednesday or some other Holy Day of Obligation. You could seek out Facebook groups for Catholics with similar interests or consider joining a Catholic professional society that relates to your industry. These opportunities are harder to find, but if you look they are out there. My challenge to you is that if you can’t find something you’re looking for, then there’s a clear need for you to start it!
Even with the challenges of being a practicing Catholic in today’s secular society, there is numerous way to live out your faith. With dedication, fortitude, and a bit of creativity, you can create a routine that will enable you to live the life of a future saint, even in the workplace.
Author: Timothy Roemer
Tim has his B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering and currently works as a product engineer. He is also pursuing a Masters in Theology. Tim has worked as a youth minister and a high school engineering/ physics teacher before becoming a full-time engineer. Tim lives with his wife and their dog Basil in Concord, NH.