With the fall semester is in full swing, it is time to pause, breathe and reflect on the campus ministry in light of the mission of education. Catholic campus ministry, which is uniquely situated at the crossroads of Church and higher education, has a vital role to play in the formation of the men and women who come to the university.
This time of year, September and October, evokes in me the consideration of two holy people, exemplars in both education and faith. They stand as timely guides for those who minister on campus and within higher education: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and Blessed John Henry Newman
Mother Seton, canonized September 14, 1975, felt compelled to do the will of God and shared that this must be done “in the manner he wills it; and… to do it because it is His will.” Her deep faith and strength of conviction gave her confidence in this tireless pursuit of God's will. In my own life, prayer grounds me in my relationship with God and helps me to discern how best to serve God’s will. Her phrase "in a manner pleasing to God" captures my attention and invites me to check my motives and my practice. The idea of internal coherence resonates with the Mother Seton perspective. If I am to teach justice, I must do so in a just manner. If I am to teach peace, I must do so in a peaceful way. Does my work represent God's will for my life? Does the way in which I go about my ministry come across in a manner that is pleasing to others and to God?
Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, who’s feast day we celebrate on Oct 9, offers some wisdom here. Newman sought the preservation, creation and passing on of knowledge throughout his life. While at Oriel College, in Oxford, he revised the advising process to be more holistic and more personal. He was concerned for the whole person, not just their academics. His motto as Cardinal was “Cor ad Cor Loquitor” – Heart speaks to Heart. Campus Ministry in our contemporary context seeks greater emphasis on relational ministry. In a report for the upcoming Synod on Young Adults, Faith and Vocational Discernment, the Secretariat for Catholic Education highlights the genuine desire young men and women have for a personal means of engagement.
Not only are we called to do God's will, encouraged by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, and to engage all those we encounter heart to heart, prompted by Blessed John Henry Newman. May we, in the words of the prophet Micah, “act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with God” (6:8)
Assistant Director for Higher Education, Secretariat of Catholic Education
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