diofav 23

Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

amadiWhen I started serving as a campus minister nearly two years ago, I definitely felt like a freshman.

The only difference was while many first-year students weren’t certain what their major would be, I knew what mine was: to win souls for Christ through the establishment of God’s kingdom on the four campuses I step on.

Now, as a “junior” in my campus ministry experience, I feel more comfortable in my role, and the students I encounter on the campuses bring so much joy to my heart. They make me appreciate working in this section of the Lord’s vineyard. Through this ministry, I have also been challenged and empowered by the words from the last verse of the Gospel of Matthew: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20).

“Go” is an action word, a moving word, a motivating word and an energetic word. If any group of people meets this description, it is our college students – our hope, our joy, our future.
College is a time of new beginnings and fresh explorations. Every day I wake up with joy in my heart because it’s another opportunity to fulfill the mandate of our Lord and Savior. This joy is fuller in me when I meet and interact with college-aged men and women who have taken it upon themselves to carry out the instructions of Jesus by making more disciples on campus, thereby expanding the kingdom of God here on earth.

Campus ministry is described by the U.S. bishops in their 1985 pastoral letter “Empowered by the Spirit: Campus Ministry Faces the Future” “as the public presence and service through which properly baptized persons are empowered by the spirit to use their gifts on behalf of the Church in order to be signs and instruments of the kingdom in the academic world.”

It is evident that the Church has a mission to fulfill in various academic institutions of learning and to the society at large through them. Consequently, we cannot lose sight of the individual needs of both students and staff – especially when we consider the fact that the academic community plays a major role in determining how an individual perceives the world through philosophies, ideologies, research and experimentation. All of these are reflected in the areas of education, business, government, sports and so much more. So it is imperative for the Church to invest in her future leaders who pass through colleges and universities. Because it is vibrant and has “an audience receptive to the kind of innovation which may in the future prove beneficial to the larger Catholic community,” the campus ministry community becomes a think tank and an incubator for the Church. It is at this juncture that the Church and the college or university become partners in molding and fostering future leaders for the Church and society. Hence another ministerial function outlined by the U.S. bishops for campus ministry is “Developing Leaders for the Future.”

My heart has been gladdened and blessed on numerous occasions when I see our college students owning their faith, stepping up to spiritual directions, elated at receiving the sacraments, sitting at table with other students at meals, planning and participating in liturgical celebrations, and availing themselves of community building, leadership training, service projects, retreat weekends, the Eucharistic Congress, small faith sharing groups and Bible studies. These and many more reasons are signs of great things happening in the Church and society through our college students. Furthermore, an acronym for “CAMPUS” that will help students maintain good human qualities goes thus: C, cool; A, amiable; M, meek; P, patience; U, understanding; S, sweet.

During his 1987 apostolic journey to the U.S. and Canada, St. John Paul II told religious education leaders: “Dear friends, Jesus shares with you His teaching ministry. Only in close communion with Him can you respond adequately. If you continue to be faithful to this ministry today, as you have been in the past, you will be doing much in shaping a peaceful, just and hope-filled world for the future. Yours is a great gift to the Church, a great gift to your nation.”

 Father Marcel Amadi is campus minister for Bennett College, North Carolina A&T, Salem College and Wake Forest University.