Campus Ministry expands Need to Talk program
Alexandra Muck | Friday, September 21, 2018
During Lent last year, Campus Ministry expanded its Need to Talk program to give students the opportunity to simply come chat with someone or seek advice during a wider range of hours. After the program’s success last year, Campus Ministry decided to permanently expand its hours to 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Monday through Thursday. Sessions take place in 113 Coleman-Morse Center.
Mike Urbaniak, the assistant director of pastoral care for Campus Ministry, said in an email that the mission of the program is simple.
“[W]e’re just here to listen and to help folks on their journey, and at times refer them to other trusted resources on campus,” he said.
Though the program is housed under Campus Ministry, Urbaniak said the program is meant to offer students a chance to talk about more than just faith.
“The Need to Talk ministry makes a member of our Campus Ministry staff available for anyone in need of spiritual guidance, a listening ear or conversation partner about any topic on a student’s mind or heart,” he said. “ … Obviously being a Campus Ministry offering, we are very comfortable talking about faith, but we really find this is a ministry that is accessible and has been taken advantage of by people regardless of their experience of faith or what their faith background is.”
Urbaniak said the program was originally started during Lent last year to help students develop a deeper relationship with God during the liturgical season or to discuss issues they may not have been talking about. After seeing over one person every night, Urbaniak said Campus Ministry decided to expand the program.
“[M]any of the folks we encountered were people who had no connection to Campus Ministry programming, but just needed some help or wanted some guidance,” he said. “We wanted to continue to be present to our campus in this way.”
One of the best aspects of the program, Urbaniak said, is what one student called its “radical availability.”
“While it’s somewhat unfortunate that this is not always the norm in our all-too-busy culture, I think it’s important for our students to know that there are places they can turn when they just need someone and can slow down and really talk about anything,” he said. “From how the day is going, to questions about prayer or doubts in faith, to challenging personal and family situations. This is a safe space for students where our presence with them can remind them that they are loved and valued.”
Urbaniak said students also have given the program positive feedback. Every night he has served, Urbaniak said someone visited just to say that it is comforting that such a program is being offered, even if they do not need it at the moment.
“People seem to appreciate the offer of simply being present for them and creating a safe space to be themselves,” he said.