Many students come to college ready to make their beliefs their own. No longer living with their parents, students might feel like they have more freedom to choose what they want to believe for themselves. Maybe you’ve come to college, and want to explore Catholicism, Christianity or another religion. Maybe you’re ready to delve into why you have always believed what you believe, or maybe you’re interested in learning about religion for the first time.
On the Bluff, there are different options for students ready to explore religion. Fr Jim Gallagher, director of Campus Ministry, said that there are many options for growing a student’s personal faith through Campus Ministry.
“My guess is that students aren’t aware of all their resources,” Gallagher said. “It’s often that I run into students who believe that campus ministry is just for the Catholic students.”
Campus Ministry offers retreats, small groups and outreach programs for more than just Catholic students. Small groups on campus and retreats offered through Campus Ministry are a great way to explore your faith as a college student and meet other students along the way. Here are some options for small groups you can try out if you’re interested in taking the next step with your faith:
: Living Stone groups are led by two student leaders, and each group discusses personal experiences, faith questions and decides what topics they want to cover. There are currently five of these groups that are coed and community centered, and meet at different times and places around campus, usually in hall chapels.
(SHE): These groups, led by two women leaders, are for students who identify as female. Topics of conversation are centered around empowerment, how to live authentic lives and exploring personal identity.
(LXG): These groups are led by faculty and staff and is for students who identify as male. This group hopes to draw men together as freshmen and go through the four years of college together as a community, while talking about adversity, love, commitment and identity.
: Fish is a coed group of students who meet on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. in the Terrace Room under The Commons. They are a non-denominational group that focuses on worship and creating community. Anne Boyle, Program Director for Campus Ministry, describes Fish as “a vibrant community.”
There are also many retreats offered to students. Boyle said that students from all faith backgrounds are welcome on any retreat.
“Any of our retreats or small groups where people of any or no faith background are welcome to come and participate,” Boyle said.
: Each dorm has a hall retreat toward the beginning of each year, which can be a great place to get to know your dorm community. The location of these retreats are decided by the dorm, and can take place on a beach or campground.
: Encounter is a popular retreat that is offered three times per year. Students spend a weekend away from campus connecting with other students through small groups and worship. Students are encouraged to apply early, and to apply multiple times if they are not selected to go the first time they apply (space is limited). The location of Encounter is kept a secret. The next Encounter with Christ retreat will be Feb. 9-11, 2018.
: This retreat is offered in the fall of each year. This retreat is for students to discern where God is working in their lives, and how they might invite God into the direction their lives are going.
Natalie Rubio-Licht also contributed to reporting for this story.