RATHDRUM, Idaho — For Daniel McDevitt, a senior at Southern Oregon University, Catholic faith has been a lifeboat during a school year torpedoed by the coronavirus.

A major in health and physical education, he also is on the SOU soccer team. Classes could happen online, but his beloved spring soccer season could not.

“My faith has been super important in this,” said McDevitt, who is active at the Southern Oregon University Newman Center. Newman Center students have convened online and by phone.

When the campus in Ashland closed down, he headed back to his small hometown in Idaho to finish classwork, go on long runs with his soccer teammates via a smartphone app and get a job with a cement landscaping and asphalt sealing company.

“We just have to keep moving forward,” McDevitt said. “It’s been hard to stay motivated when your classes are on a computer.”

He’ll return to Ashland in the fall, if possible, as a redshirt player. Then he’ll likely get in on a fall graduation.

McDevitt feels more for his sister, a high school senior who is missing prom and graduation ceremonies. 

Masses have started up again in Idaho, so the family has been attending St. Stanislaus Church in Rathdrum for the past month. 

After graduation, McDevitt plans to look into Catholic mission programs overseas. “It will be good for me to grow in my faith a little bit,” he said. Long-term career plans include physical therapy or teaching.

“Beneath every challenge is an opportunity to grow closer to God,” McDevitt said. “Even though we may not have some of the guidance of other people right now such as teachers, friends, mentors, parishioners, parents or priests, God is always with us and we need to continue to hold ourselves to a high level of excellence.”