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Campus Ministry launches discussion group

| Monday, September 22, 2014

Campus Ministry recently established Cross Examination, a new student-led discussion group format that aims to answer pressing questions on Catholic doctrine and provide an educational format for students with a variety of faith backgrounds.

Brett Perkins, campus minister and one of the developers of Cross Examination, said Campus Ministry designed the groups to provide students with a more accessible way to engage in conversations and introduce students who might not have had a strong background in Catholic doctrine to fundamental concepts of Catholic dogma. Perkins said the discussion format with student leaders will provide the participants with an interactive way to explore their faith.

“They’re open to students of any background, whether they’re Catholic students who have questions about the faith that they’re already practicing, or if they’re coming from any other faith tradition or none at all and just have questions about this Catholic universe that surrounds them at Notre Dame,” Perkins said.  “It doesn’t require any kind of commitment to sign up for the whole semester. People are able to drop in at any time.”

According to Perkins, the structure of Cross Examination consists of eight discussion groups spread throughout various dorms around campus as well as a graduate student group at Fischer, O’Hara-Grace Graduate Residences and an off-campus group at Irish Row. Upperclassmen with experience in campus ministry will lead the groups, which will feature an interactive question-and-answer format in which students can submit questions regarding Catholic doctrine to student leaders and receive answers during the meetings. Perkins said the primary goal of Cross Examination is to provide a more active context for students to explore different hot-button topics in faith.

“If it leads someone to investigate more about Catholicism, so much the better, but that’s not the principal aim of the ministry. It’s really to help students find answers to questions about the church in a spirit of intellectual inquiry,” Perkins said. “We just ask that they come ready to be honest with the questions that they have and being willing to listen with an open mind and an open heart to the response so that they hopefully walk away with a better understanding of what it actually is that we believe as Catholic Christians.”

Emma Collis, a senior and one of the student leaders of Cross Examination, said she was motivated to participate in the program after her experience with faith-based conversations during her study abroad in Spain. Collis said she hopes Cross Examination will help students understand Catholic doctrine in greater depth.

“The idea of the group meetings is to get together in a common place and have a conversation about the Catholic faith,” Collis said. “I hope that it will be an opportunity for people to come to get their questions answered and to find out what the Church actually says.”

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