Terry Witherell

The years that a young adult spends on a college campus are the most impactful to their later years as adult Catholics. It is the campus ministry that influences whether these young adults commit to service in the church; and most of the vocations to the priesthood and religious life come from campus ministries.

This week we had the chance to attend the Catholic Campus Ministry Association’s National Conference. Catholic Extension was glad to be able to provide scholarships to 16 campus ministers from mission dioceses, so that they could attend the CCMA conference. This gave these campus ministers the opportunity to learn more ways to be effective in their ministry, and to network with each other.

Students at Angela State University in Sang Angelo, Texas.

While we were there, we hosted a meeting for over 60 of the campus ministers from the mission dioceses who were present at the conference. We shared with them many of the ways that Catholic Extension has supported campus ministries over the years, what we are doing currently to support their ministry, and some ideas we have for the future. Like all of our ideas and initiatives at Catholic Extension, these ideas come directly from those who are working in the mission dioceses. We don’t think them up ourselves; rather we listen to what people share about their successes, as well as some of their challenges, and we ask how we can help. In this case, we had conducted a survey of campus ministers from mission dioceses this fall; and from that survey we were able to confirm what we had often heard on our visits to the mission dioceses: that the three biggest needs of these campus ministries are for more staff, new or improved facilities, and more financial support to grow their programs and ministries. Catholic Extension is already addressing those needs in different ways, and we are looking for ways to do more.

St. Mary's Catholic Campus Ministry at Stephen F. Austin State University.

We also heard loud and clear that the three most successful areas for campus ministers in evangelizing their students, are around these three areas: Sacraments, Meals, and Retreats. And so we asked the Campus Ministers at this conference, in this Year of Faith, to talk with us about how Catholic Extension could find ways to help more students on their campuses be able to have that retreat experience, which can help the fire of their faith burn brighter in these critical young adult years.

One of the young campus ministers came up to talk to us during the conference. He thanked us for supporting him in his ministry; but more importantly, for recognizing that campus ministry is so important to the life of the American Catholic Church. He had heard us say that we often feel that Catholic Extension is one of the “best kept secrets in the Catholic Church”, and that campus ministry is another “best kept secret”. We couldn’t agree more.

And so in order to get more of the “Good News” about what is happening on campuses across the country, we have begun a video campaign. Please click here to learn more.