St. Paul Catholic Center Winter 2023 Update

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Dear St. Paul community,

In January, I--along with Frs. Reginald, Simon Felix, Dennis, our FOCUS missionaries, and about 50 students—attended the FOCUS SEEK Conference in St. Louis with more than 17,000 others. It had been four years since the last in-person SEEK Conference so the joy and energy were palpable.

In addition to the conference experience itself, SEEK was a revelation for me. Never before had I witnessed the scale of the impact our campus ministry is having on the Church. From our current students to the more than 20 alumni serving as FOCUS missionaries to the hundreds of lives impacted by all of them, there are few ministries who have the impact on the Church like St. Paul Catholic Center. What a blessing it is to serve this community as pastor!

Thanks be to God for his myriad blessings, our campus ministry and its impact on the Church continue to grow. Of course, as our ministry grows so do the challenges. One of the challenges we currently face is financial. Simply put, most of our financial support comes from a small group of resident parishioners. Our medium-sized parish cannot support, on its own, one of the largest campus ministry programs in the country.

As we move forward, we need to grow and develop sources of financial support from outside of our resident parishioners. We are, however, quite confident that the Lord who has so blessed our campus ministry will continue to do so through the support of friends, parents, and alumni.

Thank you for your support of our ministry here at St. Paul Catholic Center. As you will see, God has been so good to us this school year and we remain steadfast in our commitment to advancing the mission of Jesus Christ and His Church on the campus of Indiana University and to the Bloomington community.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

ON THE COVER: clockwise from top left Fr. Dennis builds gingerbread houses with students; Hoosier Awakening is an opportunity for students to grow in relationship with Christ and one another; Students prepare meals to share in fellowship; Hoosier Awakenings is the largest retreat of the year; Students share in fellowship at an IU basketball game.

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Students encounter Christ, thousands of young Catholics

This past January 2-6, 50 IU students, FOCUS missionaries (pictured below), and the priests at St. Paul Catholic Center headed to The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri to attend the annual SEEK Conference. SEEK is a gathering of young adults from around the world and this was the first time since 2019 that the conference was held in person. With over 17,000 in attendance, the part that was so impressive for many of the students was the

15-minute procession of over 450 priests each day for Mass (pictured, right).

The students were able to learn from some of the best Catholic speakers available, such as Fr. Mike Schmitz, Sr. Miriam James, and Jason Evert. The days were packed with access to the Sacraments, men’s and women’s sessions, and formational impact sessions that the students could participate in. Thousands of students received the Sacrament of Confession, were able to be prayed

with, and had intimate moments with Jesus during Adoration. Overall, the students were brought to reflection on areas of growth in their own life along with gaining more conviction to share their faith openly on campus. One student said that she was really afraid to talk about her faith with her peers. After seeing 17,000 students like her trying to live out the Catholic faith, it gave her a lot of courage. Since SEEK, she has been proclaiming her faith more boldly to the people in her life.

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Service at St. Paul’s Bonds of community strengthened through service to others

Providing a place where people can serve those around them in response to Christ’s calling is crucial to the mission at St. Paul’s. This past semester, some of these service opportunities included:

• delivering household items to those in need through St. Vincent de Paul;

• packing several pallets worth of food for the local Food Bank;

• hosting a blood drive with Red Cross; and

• helping individual families to celebrate Christmas through our Christmas Sharing program.

These events have not only helped the people in the community, but have allowed parish members to strengthen the St. Paul’s faith community by working through projects together. In taking on tasks from Habitat for Humanity, volunteers bonded as they painted railings and put up siding. While delivering couches with St. Vincent de Paul, students and residents listened to people’s life stories about how decades of volunteering changed their hearts to see Christ in everyone they met. While cleaning up a retreat center, volunteers were able to give back to people who invested

and helped shape St. Paul’s.

These opportunities give student and resident parishioners a chance to assent to the call of St Teresa of Calcutta encouraging all to: “stay where you are, find your own Calcutta”.

Serving in community allows St. Paul’s parishioners to see the people they encounter at Mass in a different light, and serve the areas of Bloomington that often go overlooked. Through these small acts, service work at St. Paul’s allows students and residents to ultimately grow closer to Christ as we live as He calls them to.

Below: Students volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

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Student finds joy in leading a Bible study group

As a student at Indiana University, I have been involved with St. Paul’s Catholic Center for my three years here. This year, I enjoy the great privilege of being a Bible Study leader.

I lead a Bible Study because I love being a disciple for Jesus, which involves bringing His love, peace, and joy to my fellow college students. Bible Study has significantly improved my spiritual formation over the past year, providing me with the opportunity to learn spiritual material and formulate it into a teaching plan for my Bible Study attendants.

I currently have three fellow students in my Bible Study group. Having a smaller group of people allows me to get to know these men in a much more personal way, building an individual friendship with each of them, with our faith at its foundation.

I approach my Bible Study by praying and inviting the Holy Spirit into my planning and leading. I submit to the Father and His will so that it is no longer I who am imparting the words

of Jesus onto my brothers in my bible study, but Jesus Himself. This is what helps me to grow my brothers’ faith above all. Letting Him work through me as His instrument to form them allows their love for Christ to grow each week. I have improved my knowledge of the faith significantly since becoming a Bible Study leader and have built up solid friendships with my group. One of them has even joined me on the long journey of Exodus 90, a 90-day program based on prayer, asceticism, and fraternity.

I am very much looking forward to what God has in store for my Bible Study group in the coming year!

Students encounter Christ on Hoosier Awakening

Hoosier Awakening, a weekend retreat for Indiana University students, was held last October. This past fall, 110 students took part in this retreat, which is designed to help students grow in their love of Christ, and to deepen their faith in our Lord and commitment to the Church.

Fellow IU students

Annaliese Budd and Rachel Stephens handled the planning and implementation of the retreat, and designated St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Mary Magdalene as guiding patron saints for the event. The retreat’s theme was Wounded Healer,

and was selected after much prayerful consideration to show forth the idea that we are healed from Christ’s wounds that he bore on the cross.

Programming for the retreat included large and small group interactions, and included talks from fellow students. Our students found the retreat as an opportunity to not only invest in other students, but have their own spiritual lives poured into as well. The retreat further emphasized that the Catholic Church is all part of the Mystical Body of Christ where we are all interwoven and never alone.

Sean Larkins, IU junior
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St. Paul’s hosts Lisa Cotter for Women’s Night

Each semester, St. Paul’s hosts a Men’s and Women’s Night for students to gather in fellowship over a meal and receive formation through a talk from a Catholic speaker. Additionally, the men serve as volunteer support for the Women’s Night and the women for the Men’s Night.

On October 27, Catholic speaker Lisa Cotter joined us for Hoosier Catholic’s Women’s Night. Lisa is also author of the best-selling book Dating Detox and the recently published Reveal the Gift: Living the Feminine Genius.

In Lisa’s talk, she discussed the feminine genius and what true femininity is. She shared that women are especially gifted with sensitivity. This sensitivity isn’t being too emotional but rather, as Pope St. John Paul II writes, a “feminine sensitivity towards other human beings.”

Over 100 women attended the dinner and talk that night. For weeks after the Women’s Night, numerous students have mentioned how much the night impacted them. The world often tells us that femininity is bad and an obstacle, but many women that night learned that their femininity is a gift from the Lord.

Men’s Night welcomes Archbishop Thompson

On October 25, over 70 students and resident parishioners gathered to hear Archbishop Charles Thompson of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, speaker for the fall semester’s Men’s Night.

His focus was on the book by Henri Nouwen, “The Return of the Prodigal Son”. In his book, Nouwen contemplates the several movements of the parable: the younger son’s return, the father’s restoration of sonship, the elder son’s resentfulness, and the father’s compassion.

Archbishop Thompson talked not just about the book, but how the Lord yearns for us, and how we yearn for the Lord. Having the Archbishop speak with attendees was a great reflective opportunity.

Both the Men’s and Women’s Nights are available at no cost to our students because of the generosity of St. Paul’s benefactors. Thank you!

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Planned Giving Opportunities

Cash gifts certainly help St. Paul’s meet funding needs, but there are other opportunities to increase your giving and impact the spiritual lives of our students and resident parishioners through planned giving. These gift vehicles can have tax advantages for donors.

Appreciated Stock

A gift of stock held more than one year is a taxwise way to help our ministry. With a stock gift you pay no capital gains tax on the stock’s appreciated value. If you itemize your tax return, the gift qualifies for a deduction equal to the stock’s current value, even though no tax has been paid on the appreciation.

Qualified Charitable Distribution from Your IRA

If aged 70 ½ or older, a gift of your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from your retirement account through a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) is an option. A QCD allows you to direct your RMD tax-free to St. Paul’s, whether you itemize or not. Your retirement plan custodian directly sends all or a portion of your RMD to St. Paul’s. You can’t transfer the RMD to you, and then forward it to the parish; it must be sent directly to St. Paul’s from the plan custodian. A QCD is not counted towards a donor’s gross taxable income. For some, it could lower their Social Security benefits tax, and/or Medicare premium rate.

A Gift in Your Will

A will is a road map for distributing your assets in a thoughtful and charitable way. You can:

• Make a gift of a specific asset or amount of money (cash, stock, property, etc.),

• Leave a percentage of your estate, and/or

• Provide a residual gift from your estate.

Planned Giving helps support the mission and vision of St. Paul’s. To discuss these in detail, contact Tom Recker, Director of Mission Advancement at 812.668.2249, or


Chad & Leslie Wright, Parents

Our first stop in Bloomington when we brought Olivia to IU was St. Paul’s Catholic Center. We knew it was imperative for her to stay committed to the faith that has been a fixture in her upbringing. We were immediately welcomed by Fr. Patrick and his amazing staff. They extended invitations to Olivia to attend Mass and Sunday Supper and gave us a tour of the newly remodeled center.

Most new college students, including me at IU in the mid-90’s, wax and wane on the importance of our faith. Having an immediate and welcoming community on 17th Street was exactly the open door that I needed then, and that Olivia needed more recently. Starting in the second semester of her freshman year, we observed immense growth and dedication to the Catholic faith as a center piece of her college experience.

Mass times are customized to the obscure hours college kids keep. She attended a Hoosier Catholic retreat that showed her that there are healthy ways to experience IU. She began meeting with one of the FOCUS missionaries regularly. The personal interactions offered at St. Paul’s are imperative to college students staying connected to the Catholic faith.

Lesley and I have developed a deep love and respect for the mission of St. Paul’s to fight the battle for the young souls in college. This is truly where so many of our kids are lost to the secular world. Doing this work requires an immense amount of human capital. This can only be funded by personal capital. We met with the Mission Advancement team at St. Paul’s to offer our financial support. We encourage all of you, who share our concern for the souls of our college students, to offer your financial and prayer support to the mission of St. Paul’s.

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1413 E 17th St

Bloomington, IN 47408


Will you support the mission of St. Paul’s with a gift today?

HOOSIER AWAKENING drew 110 students from across campus to experience a retreat hosted by fellow students. Your support makes this life-changing experience possible for numerous IU students each year! Read more on page 5.

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