Faith on Campus: Midwest and South
Involvement in a campus-ministry program can benefit students long after college.
“So many young Catholics come to college and are confronted with a world running full speed in the opposite direction,” said Brotherhood of Hope Brother Parker Jordan, recently director of the Catholic Student Union (CSU) at Florida State University, Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Community College.
“If they aren’t surrounded by a vibrant community of peers who can speak the Gospel in their language, it is so easy for them to be swept in the tide of the secular mainstream,” he told the Register before his directorship at CSU ended.
College students should ask the question about what type of person they want to be, and involvement in a campus-ministry program can benefit them long after college.
“If you think seriously about what type of person you want to be for just five minutes, does that involve living a life of faith?” said Brother Parker. “If yes, then invest in it! Don’t let it become something you just ‘check the box’ on! There is a living, vibrant relationship with God waiting for you and a rich tradition of 2,000 years. And if your answer is ‘No, I don’t want faith,’ ask yourself, ‘Why?’ Is there something you’re running away from? Have you ever really given it a shot? And what’s the alternative? Have you really found something better? Or are you simply just trying to avoid the ultimate questions in life?”
Here is a brief look at some Catholic campus-ministry offerings at Midwestern and Southern schools.
University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
The St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center is home for the approximately 3,800 Catholic students at the University of Kansas. Fellowship of Catholic University Students missionaries are also on campus, providing a rich campus-ministry experience.
Eucharistic adoration is offered most days, two times per day. The beautiful chapel is open early in the morning and late at night.
The ministry has a series of student-led clubs for a wide range of interests, including the St. Gianna Molla Society to spiritually form holy Catholic medical professionals.
Benedictine College, Atchison, Kansas
Benedictine College’s ministry program has 27 domestic and international missions and three pilgrimages per year. Daily Mass is celebrated twice a day. On Sundays, Mass is celebrated in St. Benedict’s Abbey Church. Adoration is offered Monday through Friday.
A daily Rosary is prayed in the beautiful grotto at the “heart” of campus. The grotto was built in 2018 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady in Lourdes, France, and the founding of Benedictine College.
University of North Dakota, Grand Forks
The St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center is the Catholic center on campus. FOCUS missionaries work to “ignite the fire of faith on campus.”
This ministry program is rich with opportunities for students, including daily Mass and online videos. There are many opportunities for retreats and trips throughout the year.
North Dakota State University, Fargo
The center of Catholic life at North Dakota State is St. Paul’s Newman Center, commonly known as “Bison Catholic,” as the approximately 4,000 Catholic students are known.
The Newman Center and chapel has been undergoing an expansion to better serve the growing Catholic population on campus. Sunday Mass is celebrated. Daily Mass is also offered on campus.
“Bison Catholic Nights” include adoration, praise and worship and a speaker.
FOCUS missionaries on campus conduct Bible studies, outreach events, mission trips and one-on-one discipleship. Bison Catholic offers podcasts, bulletins and newsletters and an active social-media presence.
Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville
The center of Catholic life on campus for the approximately 600 Catholic students on campus is Campus Catholics at GCSU.
Campus Catholics is a student-run organization that seeks to students’ opportunities to interact with other college students and Christ through fellowship.
The local parish, Sacred Heart, serves the spiritual needs of students in conjunction with FOCUS missionaries on campus. The 5 p.m. Sunday parish Mass is the “College Mass.”
Eucharistic adoration is offered each day of the week. Campus ministry offers “TNT” —Tuesday Night Talks — in the Campus Catholic House and features praise and worship followed by a talk.
Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, North Carolina
The mission of Belmont Abbey College is to “educate students in the liberal arts and sciences so that in all things God may be glorified.” The Mary, Help of Christians Basilica, built in 1892, is the spiritual center for students and is the heart of the campus.
Belmont Abbey Campus Ministry partners with FOCUS missionaries.
With the basilica on campus, students can engage in daily Mass and prayer with the Benedictine monks on campus. There are many opportunities for students to get involved on campus with local service projects, mission trips, music ministry, Bible studies and campus retreats, in addition to daily confession, Liturgy of the Hours and Eucharistic adoration.
Georgia Tech, Atlanta
The center of Catholic life at Georgia Tech is the Georgia Tech Catholic Center.
Daily and Sunday Masses are celebrated. Eucharistic adoration is offered each day.
Through Bible studies, outreach events, mission trips, one-on-one discipleship, FOCUS missionaries “build up students in the faith.”
Ave Maria University, Ave Maria, Florida
Catholic campus ministry at Ave Maria University helps students to establish and nurture a living relationship with Jesus Christ.
There are seven weekend and five daily Masses celebrated while school is in session. Confession is available regularly and during the school year; and perpetual adoration is offered. There are many devotional activities on campus, including a nightly student-led Rosary walk on campus.
Florida State University, Tallahassee
The Catholic Student Union is the Catholic outreach to the Florida State community.
Mass is celebrated every day. On Sundays there is a 6 p.m. student Mass followed by an ice-cream social. Confession is available on Saturdays, and Eucharistic adoration is held each Thursday. Weekly “Spirit Night” offers fun and faith.
“Our weekly Spirit Nights draw around 200 people, and these are an opportunity for students to come together for worship, fellowship and a time of engaging the deeper questions of life and faith in a relevant, conversational way,” said Brother Parker, who recently served there with the Brotherhood of Hope.
“Our retreats are also very well-attended. I find our students really love coming to retreats, and it is amazing how powerfully God works in someone’s life when they are open. Young people are searching for meaning, and when they actually stop and open up, it’s amazing how God can work in that space.”
University of Central Florida
The Catholic Knights Catholic Campus Ministry, a ministry of the Diocese of Orlando, Florida, at the University of Central Florida is the center for the approximately 12,000 Catholic students on campus. The Brotherhood of Hope ministers here and on other college campuses.
Upcoming events and mission work are hosted through several Catholic missionary groups, including: the Salesian Lay Missioners, NET Ministries, FOCUS, Catholic Heart Workcamp, Christ in the City and St. Paul’s Outreach.
Sunday Mass is scheduled for noon on campus and then at 5:30 p.m. at Most Precious Blood Catholic Church.
Weekly men’s and women’s nights and Bible studies offer fellowship opportunities.
Every Tuesday night is “KnightFire,” an evening of praise and worship and small-group discussions.
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
St. Francis of Assisi University Parish serves “Bama Catholics.” “We are called to become Saints–to be perfected in charity and to grow in holiness. Jesus Christ makes this daring path possible. Following Him, we seek to become channels of God’s love to others. St. Francis of Assisi University Parish builds a faith community upon the foundation of the Sacraments. We Pray. We Worship. We Serve. Drawing from the rich wisdom, beauty, and tradition of Catholicism, we invite the Word of God to transform our lives, our relationships, and our communities. St. Francis of Assisi University Parish believes that we find our true fulfillment only in God. We invite all to join us in our journey toward our heavenly home,” the university parish website explains.
Editor’s Note: This series highlights a variety of campus ministries. Read the other parts: the introduction, Ivy League, Great Lakes and Southwest and West; also learn about FOCUS ministry. To learn more about Catholic life at college, also see our annual guide and our “Education” section.
Sean P. Dolan is a Catholic communications professional and founder of Dolan Communications.
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