by Carl Brown
During the hottest days of summer, across the country every year, 4 million students step onto a college campus for the first time as freshmen. In Ohio alone, over 100,000 high school graduates packed up their belongings and changed their address to a dorm or residence hall this past August.
Miami University welcomed its 214th class of freshmen this year. College has become a rite of passage for young adults in America. College is a time to prepare for a career, expand knowledge, and begin life away from home.
But students also make decisions, friendships, and habits that will impact them for the rest of their lives. Are public colleges able to help build the spiritual and moral foundation needed by young adults?
“I don’t just want to get an education,” one student shared. “I want to find a place rooted in truth. So much of the culture today is hostile to our faith. Just admitting you’re Catholic can sometimes alienate you.”
Catholic Campus Ministry at 3 public universities here in the Archdiocese is one of the priorities of the Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA).
“There’s so much brokenness on campus,” Fr. Ethan Moore shared. “Students come to us in search of truth, community, and joy. They want something more than what the world tells them they should want. They want to be formed in the faith and nourished in the life of the Church.”
Without Campus Ministry on these campuses, where will these students go?
“When students come to us, we want to show them that they are not alone. We provide a home for them.” Fr. Ethan runs “Catholic Bearcat” on the campus at the University of Cincinnati.
“We want to build a culture of invitation,” Fr. Jacob Willing added. Fr. Willig is Campus Minister at Miami University in Oxford. Fr. Tim Fahey leads campus ministry at Wright State University in Dayton.
Sometimes Campus Ministry takes the form of “Stump the Priest” in a bar, where anyone can ask questions, and because Fr. Ethan has an open microphone, everyone in the bar hears his answer. Sometimes this takes the form of “Rosary at Skyline Chili” at 10 o’clock at night. Sometimes this takes the form of a Campus Ministry intramural basketball team.
At all three campuses, the Newman Center serves as a place where students can study, or take a break in between classes, or find Spiritual Direction.
“We want to cast a wide net where students can deepen their faith,” adds Fr. Ethan.
And that’s exactly what happens. In the last couple of years, 2 Campus Ministry students discerned a call to the priesthood and are now in formation at the Seminary. Another 8 students became full-time missionaries. “And we’ve had countless marriages come from students who met through Campus Ministry.”
One of the highlights of Campus Ministry is that, in addition to serving Catholic students, Fr. Ethan, Fr. Jacob, and Fr. Tim reach non-Catholics. This year, 20 students are going through the RCIA process in order to come into full communion with the Church this Easter.
Miami University student Benjamin Jacoby says it best, “It’s kind of bleak in the world right now, but seeing the life of Christ alive on campus just gives me a lot of hope.”
Your support of the CMA brings that hope to these college campuses. More than anyone in the world, the Catholic Church teaches, feeds, and heals. In our local community, this happens through the Catholic Ministries Appeal.
THANK YOU for supporting the Catholic Ministries Appeal!
Click HERE to learn how the CMA supports Campus, Hospital, and Prison Ministries.