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Campus Ministry engages students in faith

| Monday, October 3, 2016

Although Notre Dame boasts the largest campus ministry program in the country, director Fr. Pete McCormick and his staff are always looking to expand and improve the work they do helping students grow their faith.

Campus Ministry is divided into four sections, the largest of which is student ministry. Student ministry includes everything from leadership programs like Compass Freshman Fellowship and Anchor Senior Intern program to spiritual direction and pastoral care provided “office hours” style or on a more formal basis.

“What we do in student ministry is try to figure out different ways of how we can bring students to Christ and try to understand where they are in their faith life and meet them there,” Tami Schmitz, associate director of student ministry, said. 

One active component of the student ministry program is pilgrimages and retreats. Over fall break, Campus Ministry is sponsoring four pilgrimages. One group will go to Malta, another will go to France, the birthplace of Congregation of Holy Cross founder Fr. Basil Moreau, and a third will go to Mexico City to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The final trip will be a seminar and pilgrimage, also sponsored by the Center of Social Concerns, to Phoenix to work at a homeless shelter.

Retreats are another vibrant aspect of student ministry. The Tender, Strong and True retreat for freshman, which was held this past weekend, is just one example of the many retreats Campus Ministry hosts.

“We want to welcome [students], make them feel at home at Notre Dame and then help them find their way and how they can get more involved and develop their leadership here as well,” Schmitz said of the retreat program.

Sacramental preparation is another growing aspect of Campus Ministry, with 15 students seeking baptism this year and another 25 students preparing for confirmation or other sacraments.

Besides student ministry, Campus Ministry also includes a liturgical ministry team that helps residence halls or other campus and alumni groups plan masses and organize music groups for the liturgies.

“It’s not rocket science to plan a mass, but it’s also not something that people think about necessarily in their daily life, so we can help with some of those details that might otherwise slip through the cracks,” Kate Barrett, associate director of liturgy, said.

The liturgical ministry will combine with the Basilica of the Sacred Heart component soon for a new project, a coffee-table book and app about the Basilica.

The final component of Campus Ministry is music ministry, which is led by Andrew McShane. The six campus choirs that fall under this branch are the Liturgical Choir, Women’s Liturgical Choir, Folk Choir, Celebration Choir, Handbell Choir and Basilica Schola. These choirs practice at the Coleman-Morse Center but perform at the Basilica.

Special choirs are also formed, such as the opening mass choir and the Junior Parents Weekend choir. These choirs are comprised of various members from the other choirs. The opening mass choir is the largest choir with every choir singer participating. Over 200 students participate in choirs through Campus Ministry.

With its many programs, Campus Ministry is expecting a full year with lots of student engagement.

“We’re so excited about what we’re doing here in Campus Ministry,” McCormick said.

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