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Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry offers faith formation opportunities

| Monday, February 14, 2022

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story said Oxford University was located in London, which is incorrect. It also included incorrect quotes from Campus Minister Allison D’Ambrosia. The Observer regrets these errors.

Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry has recently began new pop-up sessions with the College’s Protestant chaplain Pastor Carrie Badertscher.

Since Badertscher started at the College, she has hoped to create a space where students from various faiths could come to feel seen and heard. The pop-up sessions which take place every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. are an extension of the safe space [where students can] share faith that Badertscher has been hopeful to implement.

“I would say I’m new to Saint Mary’s, but I have known the administration and the faculty and staff to [take] a posture of listening. Instead of programs, they are looking at the needs of the students and trying to ensure that they are met,” Badertscher said.

Badertscher also believes the administration creates a good balance between supporting Catholic and non-Catholic students.

“I see the administration building on the strong Catholic foundation of the school and also recognizing that not everyone has had the same upbringing of faith,” she said. “But God is big enough to help us navigate the large experience of faith.”

The pop-ups according to Badertscher are meant to be “a specific open door and a place to be who you are today.”

First-year student Sincere Cannon encourages involvement within Campus Ministry.

“Others should get involved with campus ministry for two reasons,” Cannon said. “First, it is a safe and welcoming space where you can confide in people about anything under the sun. Also, even if you are not Catholic or Christian, it is always a helpful tool to have religious literacy of different cultures around you. Perhaps, you might find a love for religious dialogue as I did and you might even meet people who change your life for the better — Pastor Carrie is that person for me.”

Cannon is just one student who appreciates what Campus Ministry and Badertscher has done for her. First-year Tess Hayes also shared her experience with Badertscher.

“I met Carrie one afternoon walking to class and she welcomed me,” Hayes said. “I kept coming back because Carrie is a community builder and has given me many opportunities to establish relationships with the girls who attend her pop-up events, as well as relationships with other members of the South Bend community.”

Newly hired Campus Minister Allison D’Ambrosia also believes the College should take a position of listening. D’Ambrosia is a 2016 alumna of the College and has spent the last seven years working at Oxford University in England.

D’Ambrosia is excited to return to the College and its nurturing environment.

“It’s a very supportive community — more so than I realized when I was there,” she said. “It’s easy to get caught up to day-to-day life while you are there. The vision of empowering women is really important and I think that it’s going to be really fun and exciting to be apart of.”

D’Ambrosia is open to expanding services, but first wants to inventory students’ faith traditions.

“It’s important to survey the students to find out their faith traditions, so we can provide the ministry that matches the demands of the students,” D’Ambrosia said. “It’s important to find out what they want and then move from there.”

In addition, D’Ambrosia wants Campus Ministry to be a place for all students — including students in different places in their faith journey.

“Campus ministry is not just for the uber-Catholics who go to daily Mass, etcetera,” D’Ambrosia said, “but it is a place for all students to discover themselves and whatever they believe and their own identity deeper. Campus Ministry is for everyone, not just a subset of students.”

Badertscher echoed a similar message.

“I would invite students regardless of how they feel to come and have a conversation about God,” Badertscher said. “Campus Ministry is a great place to do that. Students are too often afraid not to have answers, but it’s okay to not know all things.”

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