A Faithful Legacy — By Angelle Hall
In December 2007, my first winter break as the Director of Campus Ministry at Newman, I decided it might be important to read through all the files my predecessors had left for me. I confess that up until then, I struggled to find the time to sit and read through them. I will never forget finding documentation about the desires and attempts to create Catholic small faith sharing groups for students that stretched back 15 years before I arrived. At that point, there was not a structure in place to support them.
I committed to praying and discerning about how to implement small groups. In Spring 2008, we began with one. It was well attended, but then almost all of the attendees graduated. A sophomore took up the leadership the next year in 2008-2009, but attendance was small. Often, there would only be two attendees. However, one is now a priest and the other is a religious sister, so the 100% return on the investment for the Church worked out well!
In Spring 2009, a team of student leaders and campus ministers created the Catholic Life Communities, small faith sharing groups led by students. We began with 2, but by Spring 2014, there were four groups. Our FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionaries arrived in Fall 2014, and now there are over 45 small group Bible studies.
While campus ministry can always improve and reach out more through small group, our current structure supports growth, and we are poised to grow even more. However, I find that in many ways, we are seeing the fruits of a vision that is 25 years old! We have grown not just in the number of students involved, but in a greater critical mass of students who seek to follow Christ and live this out in the world around them.
While many things have changed, some things have stayed the same. There were many faithful, committed students growing in their love for Jesus Christ and for others long before I arrived here. I have been blessed to see many students graduate and go on to shine the light of Christ in many different directions. It is a gift to currently walk with and serve our bold, faithful students today.
The students of today stand on the shoulders of those who came before them. I am grateful to all of them for their faithful legacy.