20 • The Catholic Spirit
THE LAST WORD
September 8, 2016
Mass appeal New leadership sparks unprecedented student involvement in U of M campus ministry By Jessica Weinberger For The Catholic Spirit
n an average weekend at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, 1,200 students gather together — not to attend a Gopher sporting event or house party — but to attend one of three Sunday Masses at St. Lawrence Church and Newman Center on the northwestern edge of Minneapolis’ Dinkytown neighborhood. Thanks to Campus Ministry Director Brother Ken Apuzzo, a strong partnership with St. Paul’s Outreach and a group of passionate student leaders, a vibrant Catholic culture has emerged at the mega public university where nearly 47,000 students study each year. Since Brother Ken’s appointment two years ago through the Brothers of Hope religious community University of Minnesota senior Dani Shupe, front, listens during a leadership training day Aug. 21 at St. Lawrence Catholic Church and Newman headquartered in Boston, daily Mass Center in Minneapolis near the University of Minnesota campus. Shupe and other student leaders came to help organize events and programs attendance has increased from less than 10 students to nearly 70. Priests for the upcoming school year. Shupe will be directing the fall retreat. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit previously heard 30 minutes of affect them for the rest of their lives. spends time ministering to the homeless at the confessions each week — now it’s 30 minutes per “Here [at a public university], you’re Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul. day. Fifteen students attended encountering the frontline of the world, and there’s “It’s really opened my eyes to the power of campus ministry’s 2014 fall no secret in that,” he said. “You know where the serving others,” said Miller, a biology and public retreat, while last year’s retreat battle lines are and where the issues are.” health major from Rochester. topped more than 100 participants. More than 20 students came into the Church A faith family away from home Faith has a place on campus on Easter in 2015, and there’s a Kaly Kohns, 21, serves as president of Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens, who lives in greater interest in religious Students United, the official student group at the the rectory at St. Lawrence, has seen the growth vocations. Newman Center. The Plymouth native who within campus ministry firsthand and describes the To spark this dramatic attended Holy Name of Jesus in Medina helps energy around the parish and the Newman Center Brother Ken resurgence, Brother Ken leaned oversee the various campus ministry committees, as “palpable.” He’s pleased to see the increase in on his experiences at other APUZZO Gopher Catholic Night and events like the recent confessions and daily Mass attendance and hopes to large public universities like Labor Day barbecue outreach event in the freshman see a continued up-tick in religious vocations. Florida State University in Tallahassee and Rutgers superblock of dorms. “That time in college is so important for people to University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to form a Kohns said that CSU has helped her feel part of a choose their vocation, and that’s why it’s so trained student leadership team and develop a solid faith family away from her home parish and important that we invest in campus ministry,” vision for reaching out to the masses on campus, equipped her with the tools needed to live and Bishop Cozzens said. “That’s the time when young many being millennials who didn’t grow up in the study alongside people of different faiths. Church. “Because of CSU, I’ve been able to have very open people encounter Christ and then can pursue their vocation.” “You have to be very proactive and find ways to and honest conversations with my friends,” she Now in the first week of fall semester, Brother Ken enter into their world on campus and make the first said. “They can meet me where I’m at, and they hopes this will be a breakout year in terms of step toward the Church — toward Jesus — an easy, respect the different ways I see things or how I reaching new students and strengthening the faith natural and organic one,” he said. explain my faith.” community. He asks for prayers from local Catholics That process often begins at the student-led Kohns, a senior majoring in industrial and for the incoming freshman class, which they hope Gopher Catholic Night. Each Tuesday, more than systems engineering, also noted her expanded to reach early on before temptation may draw 100 students head to the student center to listen to prayer life, which now includes lectio divina, people away from the faith. presentations, hear testimonies, participate in small Liturgy of the Hours and a greater understanding of groups and praise and worship as they focus on To support their efforts to evangelize to such a how to pray the rosary. During this Year of Mercy, deepening their faith, enriching their prayer life large university community, Brother Ken is grateful she looks forward to participating with the other and ultimately, building relationships. to have the designation as a recognized student student leaders who have taken an oath to be organization on a secular university campus. “The goal is for them to be in relationship with “missionaries of mercy” and look for opportunities one another and us to support that because they to evangelize throughout the school year. “We believe that faith has a place in the midst of can go out and reach each other in places we can’t,” Junior Ali Miller, 20, said her involvement with the university,” Brother Ken said. “It’s not just St. Lawrence pastor Father Jon Vander Ploeg said. CSU has showed her the power of faith in action. supposed to be across the street outside of the life of She served with fellow campus ministry members at the university. By being an actual recognized A strong Catholic presence in a public university a homeless shelter and women’s shelter on a spring setting is crucial, said Father Vander Ploeg, as student group on the campus, it puts spirituality break mission trip to Anchorage, Alaska, and now students are making decisions each day that can and faith right there in the heart of the campus.”
Published on Sep 8, 2016
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