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Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry adapts to COVID regulations, continues offering liturgies

| Thursday, August 20, 2020

Despite the fear surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic, Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry continues to reach out to the College community through planning liturgies and special events this semester.

In an email, Campus Ministry director Regina Wilson said the coronavirus has deeply changed the way people can practice their faith and the department has had to learn how to adapt to new safety regulations.

“Dealing with the pandemic has definitely been a challenge for Campus Ministry,” Wilson said. “We have had to learn a lot in this short time, but the Holy Spirit has strengthened us through it.”

Wilson believes that Campus Ministry can continue to operate in its usual capacity even during the pandemic.

“The coronavirus has not weakened our ministry in any way as we try to continue to call the community to faithful hope,” she said. “[L]ife always continues even when it seems like there are great obstacles.”

In addition, Wilson said some good has come from the Church’s virtual presence during the pandemic.

“Professional ministers have greatly improved … at reaching people through technology, including social media,” she said. “They have learned to reach out to people in new ways … because [they] cannot see and meet people in person.”

Wilson says Campus Ministry’s new mission is reaching out to everyone who wishes to be involved in the department.

“Campus Ministry’s struggle is initiate relationships when all we might have is technology,” she said. “We worry about the people [we] may be missing because we are more online driven than in person now.”

Although this year has come with many challenges, Wilson reminds students of God‘s giving nature and the need for helping others.

“We would like students to know … in the midst of these kinds of struggles God beckons to us to see His life and light right here among our very lives,” she said. “God always provides and … we are being called to recognize the new ways that are available to us to walk with people who are suffering.”

Wilson went on to explain the importance of recognizing God’s presence during difficult times.

“We would like students to join us in helping our community and pause, name and notice God’s presence here in this time and place,” she said. “This is a time where we are really invited to turn to God in all things … We are all in God’s life … [and] this time just highlights how important that awareness is. This is what all our programming, praying and worshipping is for: to say God is with us.”

Operating in the coronavirus created changes for many churches around the world, especially regarding Sunday Mass. The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend extended the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, so Catholics aren’t required to go to Mass until at least Nov. 1. Although Mass is no longer a requirement, Campus Ministry has been doing its best to make sure that it is available for those who still would like to attend both in person and virtually.

At Saint Mary’s, Sunday Mass will be offered at 11:15 a.m. and 7 p.m. in Le Mans’s Holy Spirit Chapel, in addition to a 9:00 p.m. service in Regina Chapel. However, Wilson stresses COVID precautions must be followed in order to attend Mass safely.

“Everyone is required to wear face coverings in all of the chapels and practice physical distancing measures,” she said. “This means there is a seating capacity that cannot be exceeded for each liturgy. There will be overflow seating for the two Sunday evening liturgies where students can receive communion. Of these three services, the 9 p.m. liturgy is live streamed for those who would prefer not to attend in person.”

Two Masses have also been added during the week — Monday at 9 p.m. in the Regina Chapel and Wednesday at 9 p.m. in Le Mans’s Holy Spirit Chapel.

In addition, Campus Ministry has scheduled several other programs such as the First Year Retreat, Sunday Scripture Sharing, Bible Study and the faith group Fiat.

To find more information on how to get involved and participate in these programs, Wilson encourages students to log on to Belle Tower and access the Campus Ministry Calendar.

“Most of these events are offered via video conferencing [so] students will need to access the links to join in,” she said. “We are trying to post the links in [their] monthly newsletter and by way of a QR code on flyers around campus.”

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