Group of diverse students dressed nicely in church pews

How to Find Endless Opportunities Through Catholic Campus Ministry

College is a time to grow academically and personally. Catholic students find that pursuing campus ministry opportunities enhances the overall experience.

Throughout college, students' time and energy are devoted to their education—there's no escaping classes, homework, and study groups! But college is a great time to grow not only academically but also as an individual! Catholic students often find that balancing their studies with various opportunities offered through campus ministry enhances their overall university experience. With so many possibilities to grow in faith, campus ministry can easily become a blur of events and gatherings if they are not pointed out and prayerfully considered. From liturgical ministry on campus and in the surrounding community to weekend retreats with classmates and extended community service trips during vacations, there is no shortage of activities to participate in!

Join the faith community

A college campus is built on the idea of community. Catholic colleges are often associated with one or more religious orders, influencing the charism of campus spiritual life. Particular charisms provide different types of spiritual direction, peer retreats, Bible studies, and other faith formation. The number of clubs, sports, organizations, and activities can be overwhelming. As a new student, ask around about the liturgical life, explore the chapels and prayer spaces, and talk to other students about what the faith life is like daily. If you're a musician, see if you can get involved in music ministry. Is daily Mass available? You may even want to get a schedule of Mass times, which will help you balance a busy college schedule! You can also get involved by helping organize events and celebrations on campus. 

You may also want to consider who is available on campus as part of the greater religious community; priests, religious people, and laity are often an integral part of life on college campuses. Don’t be shy about talking to campus ministers about the faith community and how you may fit into it! Participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is important for students seeking to build upon their faith foundation. Check with campus ministry about how often it is offered and whether or not it is by appointment only. By regular participation in Reconciliation, Adoration, and other rites, students not only reflect on their own lives but also deepen their relationship with God. 

Integrate your faith and academics

Campus ministry can also help students integrate their academic life with their spiritual life. Weekly Bible studies led by spiritual leaders help students with an interest in Scripture grow in faith and knowledge as a unified body. When supported and encouraged by campus ministry, praise and worship provide excellent opportunities for students to rejoice together in fellowship and glorify God through their musical talents. Choirs dedicated to the liturgy see students living out their understanding of the responsibility to achieve a mature understanding of the Catholic faith. Many students participate in ministry-sponsored lectures and seminars, with schools bringing in guest speakers to lead discussions on social, political, and moral issues. When these topics are presented following Catholic tradition and Church doctrine in an open dialogue, students develop a deeper understanding of their faith. You can check with campus ministry to find out how to participate in these events as well as see who has visited campus in the past.

You can also live your faith off campus by participating in retreats, often made available to students through the work of campus ministry. Retreats offer students the opportunity to dedicate a weekend to prayer, spiritual reflection, and Scripture reading in a guided setting. They also offer spiritual enrichment by serving an educational purpose, as participants learn ways to incorporate their faith into their daily lives. Students can take leadership roles on these weekends by planning and organizing retreats and serving as spiritual leaders to their peers.

Related: Why Campus Ministry Is the Heart of a Catholic Education

Answer the call, serve others

An integral part of campus ministry at most schools is community service. Serving others is an excellent way to put Catholic social teachings, such as the respect for life and dignity of others, into action. Community service projects range from one-time commitments to weekly recurring activities to week-long service projects. Common opportunities at many schools include building houses with Habitat for Humanity and volunteer work at local hospitals and nursing homes. Colleges and universities even provide opportunities for groups to sacrifice their spring breaks by serving underprivileged communities throughout the United States or abroad. These types of projects often require spiritual preparation and prayer throughout most of the academic year leading up to the trip. Service projects help students put their faith into practice and recognize the significant need for volunteerism throughout the world. 

By raising awareness of social issues and taking action to promote justice, community service accomplishes a vital aspect of living a faith-filled life. Additionally, active participation in community service brings the greater religious community of any campus or university together for a common purpose, ultimately bringing the student body, faculty, and staff even closer together.

Seek vocational guidance

You may be discerning your vocation in life, and it's important to know how campus ministry can guide you through the process. Many schools hold vocation awareness fairs where you can speak with someone who has pursued a religious call. Marriage preparation and religious counseling, paired with meaningful discussion and prayer, are also ways campus ministry can guide you through discernment. Once you find the activities and areas where your spiritual gifts are best used, don’t hesitate to stand up and take on some responsibility. Planning Bible studies, interning with the campus ministry office, and seeking executive positions in clubs are great ways to shape and nurture leadership skills and talents. If you are unsure of where God is calling you to serve in college, take time to seek guidance from the campus ministers, priests, and other religious mentors on campus. They are always happy and willing to help students make those very important decisions that arise during their college careers.

You should also consider expanding your experience by serving as a leader in the church of the local community. Campus ministry usually has close ties to the community surrounding the college, and catechizing in area parishes is a popular activity for students. Many find that serving in the local community helps prepare them for leadership opportunities and life experiences beyond college. You can reach out to the greater community by tutoring, working with a youth group, or attending Mass at a local church as well.

Related: How to Live and Grow in Your Faith on a College Campus

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by lots of schoolwork when working toward your college degree, but remember, it's rewarding to extend yourself out of your personal pursuits to share in the joy of the community. Whether it’s a movie, ice cream social, or a round table discussion, take advantage of those opportunities to expand your experience, engage in meaningful conversations, and just have fun. No matter what your interests are, it is important to learn what opportunities each school offers through campus ministry to help you grow in faith, gain knowledge and experience, and prepare to be a leader, so be sure to take full advantage of them throughout your college years! 

Looking for more insight on Catholic education before you head to campus? Check out what our experts have to say about Catholic college life!

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