This summer, we asked you to join our Spiritual Support Network and offer prayers and spiritual works for our campus ministry partners. We sent your prayers and offerings to each of our campus ministry partners. Thanks to you, they know that they are not alone in the Lord’s vineyard and that you are standing alongside them in the great work of bringing our nation’s young people to Christ.
Thank you for the outpouring of prayers and spiritual offerings! Your support has impacted hundreds of students in dozens of campus ministries across the country.
Encouragement For Our Campus Partners
Faithfulness Blossoms at the University of South Florida
Before the pandemic, Carly Bosse had a plan. When the pandemic hit her plans had to change, but knowing she had a community of supporters like you got Carly through the strain of lockdown restrictions.
Carly, the campus minister and Reach More™point person for the University of South Florida Catholic Student Union in Tampa, was energized by “Courageously Living the Gospel”—a three year initiative by the St. Petersburg diocese to increase student participation in campus ministries by 1000%. She was ready to zealously tackle this initiative head-on, but the university had put COVID-19 protocols in place that severely affected the campus ministry.
“The campus was so empty and desolate. There was no on-campus activity allowed, but the students had been longing for the community to come back together,” Carly said.
Carly knew she had to do something to bring hope back to her students. She decided to start planning a retreat, but her momentum was slowed by venue restrictions and social-distancing protocols. She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to host any kind of retreat, let alone deliver a fruitful spiritual experience.
“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. But I said ‘Lord, just give me thirty-five students that want to encounter you fully.’”
After coordinating Mass announcements and personal invitations to promote the retreat, Carly continued to pray for God to do his work in that community. At the end of the sign-up period, Carly had exactly thirty-five students committed to the retreat. She was floored.
The spiritual fruit of Carly’s prayers blossomed into several tangible fruits. Fifty new students signed up for their virtual Lenten small groups. Seven students formed a praise band to bring more people together in worship. Because of the Catholic student union’s proximity to campus, Carly has seen an increase in new students engaging with their off-campus activities.
“Everything that my heart has longed for in this ministry, God has taken up and provided for.”
University of Houston Students Step Up to the Plate
This past year of the pandemic has been a year of creativity for many campus ministries across the country. Because of your support, Claire McMullin, the campus minister and Reach More™ point person for the Catholic Newman Center at the University of Houston in TX, was encouraged to find new ways of providing for her students in a challenging time.
Claire was facing a conundrum. Her students had been meeting regularly in virtual small groups, but they expressed to her that they felt something was missing. She gathered student leaders together in a retreat to reflect on Psalm 23 and brainstorm how they could reach the university’s Catholic community in unique ways. Through prayer, worship, and discussion, the students were energized by the Holy Spirit and their desire to continue the mission of the Church through their own personal apostolates.
“The vision [for evangelization] hadn’t changed just because of the pandemic. Although it was a challenge with everyone still feeling restricted, the student leaders really stepped up and embraced their role in this shared mission.”
Claire took their lead and provided support as her students began making personal invitations to individuals they wanted to experience more intentional relationships with. When given the opportunity, Claire observed, “the students discovered their capacity to serve others, and to create spiritual spaces for others to do the same.”
Claire was inspired by their drive to encounter other students in a deeper, Christ-centered way and wanted to take their work a step further. She reached out to several Catholic professors and young professionals in the community to be spiritual mentors who would check in with the student leaders regularly and intercede for their prayer intentions throughout the week.
The support network at U of H’s Newman Center currently partners nine undergraduate students with these spiritual mentors, and with your continued help, Claire believes it will soon expand to benefit more students.
“Reach More™ has been so helpful in encouraging our student leaders in the mission of the Church. Your prayers for our students have supported so much growth, sharing, and expansion beyond the comfort zone.”
Valdosta State: The Small Things Lead to Big Transformations
Campuses across the country are returning to in-person instruction, and your prayers and support are essential for our campus ministers as they navigate the post-pandemic landscape. Aly Lindner, the campus minister and Reach More™ point person for Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA, shared her struggles with figuring out how to minister to students in the midst of the pandemic:
“Many students, especially the upperclassmen, didn’t return to our events when we began hosting them again. They didn’t see the point. I’m the first full-time campus minister for the university, so it was overwhelming to figure this out without an established structure.”
Aly wasn’t sure how to move forward. Would she continue exerting the effort in coordinating events that students probably wouldn’t attend? “There were a few weeks where I felt so overwhelmed with the situation,” Aly admitted. With the help of her Evangelical Catholic ministry consultant Andrea Jackson, Aly was able to focus on the small things she was able to provide her students: one-on-one relationships.
Revitalized by her new perspective, Aly poured herself into two women leading their own student one-on-ones. She immediately saw the fruits of building intentional relationships with her student leaders through their own one-on-one relationships. “In my check-ins with the student leaders, I was hearing such great things. One student told me, ‘The Lord really wants me to be at this particular school’, and another had shared that she had ‘never grown as much as she has here.’”
With your help, Aly and her students return to in-person campus life with renewed hope.
“It’s been such a blessing to know we’re not alone in this, that people are praying for us and rooting for us. It’s been so good for our students to have a spiritual community supporting them as they ask good questions, form lasting relationships, and find their identities in Christ.”