BY ANAYA VANCE
The coffeehouse speaker series known as Agape Latte had their first event last Thursday Sept. 13, featuring guest speaker Sean Kaschak, who is currently the Multimedia Communications Coordinator here at Sacred Heart University. The focus of Agape Latte is to feature various guest speakers and provide them with a platform to express their journey with faith to students, faculty, staff, and local community members.
The event opened with a live performance by acoustic rock artist Bill Hawk. The performance was then followed by a brief trivia questionnaire.
Sacred Heart University’s campus minister Devon McCormick touched upon her first experience with Agape Latte. At the time, she was studying for her master’s in Ministry at Boston College. She emphasized her appreciation for the program, saying, “I fell in love with it there, and had the opportunity to bring it to SHU when I began here two years ago.”
The main feature, Sean Kaschak, proceeded to welcome the crowd and discuss his journey with his faith. Kaschak, a Williamson, NY native, was born into a military family with very strong ties to Catholicism.
Kaschak was quick to detail his struggles with formal education. After graduating high school in 2005, he enrolled at the University of Dayton for the 2006 academic year. After a poor academic performance at Dayton, he transferred to Texas State University the following year, only to return to Dayton soon after, where he continued to struggle with his studies. Kaschak admitted to changing his major 11 times at 5 different colleges in a very short period of time.
After noticing his son’s struggles in the classroom, Kaschak’s father insisted he attend community college until he improved his grades; only then would he permit Sean to return to a major university.
Kaschak made it his priority to work twice as hard as he had before. He achieved a 3.8 GPA and earned a spot on the Dean’s List that semester. He was able to return to the University of Dayton, where graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government in 2010.
After completing his undergraduate program, Kaschak decided to pursue a master’s Degree in Education at Dayton the following year. When he was finishing up at grad school he met a girl by the name of Erin, whose drive and competitiveness caught his eye. They began dating soon after.
Kaschak admitted that it was at this point that his personal relationship with faith began to take a turn for the worse. Sean and Erin would often discuss their preference for knowledge and evidence over faith and religion. The couple shared a negative attitude towards faith, Feeling that that the more facts they learned about religion and the church, the less they believed.
Nevertheless, Erin’s drive for success led her to desire equal success for Sean. She applied to countless jobs for him after grad school, and even managed to help land him a job as a teacher. Unfortunately, the job was located over 200 miles away in Cleveland, Ohio. Kaschak ended up taking the job, but the distance wore on his relationship with Erin.
Soon after accepting the position, Kaschak’s four-year relationship had come to an end. The sadness that resulted from this break-up pushed him even farther from his faith. It was at this point, Kaschak admitted, he believed he was completely Atheist.
After a long hiatus from his faith, he went to church with his brother and felt a slight reconnection to what he believed was the Holy Spirit. Later on, he met a girl by the name of Shannon, who was very in tune with her faith.
Shannon helped steer Kaschak closer to God, but he still continued to struggle with his faith from time to time. “I had no theological basis for my faith, some days my faith extended to different feelings, and others it stayed the same,” said Kaschak.
He confessed that being Atheist was an important time in his life, as he believes it was an integral part of his foundation as a person. Kaschak went on to say that he lives by a quote from Lord of the Rings, which states, “Not all who wander are lost.”
For Kaschak, he believes his journey is just beginning, and that he has a lot more to accomplish.
“I’m 30 and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. But that’s okay, because not all who wander are lost.”