Ministries strive to be a Catholic presence on campus - Catholic Courier
David Pollock serves as an extraordinary minister of holy communion during Mass at SUNY Geneseo's Interfaith Center in 2014. David Pollock serves as an extraordinary minister of holy communion during Mass at SUNY Geneseo's Interfaith Center in 2014.

Ministries strive to be a Catholic presence on campus

Catholic campus ministry began at U.S. colleges and universities in the late 1880s as clubs frequently named in honor of Venerable John Henry Newman, an influential British theologian and cardinal who had encouraged the formation of societies for Catholic students attending secular colleges.

In the Diocese of Rochester, Catholic campus ministries date back to the 1940s when they evolved from Newman clubs into ministries established by the diocesan bishop. Catholic campus ministry currently takes place on 20 college and university campuses across the diocese’s 12 counties. These ministries take various forms to serve communities at a range of academic institutions, including an Ivy League university, SUNY colleges and universities, several private colleges and universities, Catholic-heritage and Protestant colleges, and community colleges.

With guidance from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, these ministries strive to be the Catholic Church’s presence to all involved in higher education. Their objectives, as defined by the USCCB, are to form the faith community; foster an ever-deeper understanding of the faith; form Christian conscience; educate for justice; facilitate personal development; and develop future leaders for society and the church.

Campus ministries fulfill these goals by offering such spiritual activities as Masses, devotions, prayer, evangelization on campus, interfaith dialogue opportunities, faith sharing and Bible-study groups. College students are challenged to reach greater understanding of Catholicism through such opportunities as speaker series, workshops and book clubs.

Justice education takes place through such opportunities for service, outreach and advocacy as jail ministry, alternative spring-break retreats and mission trips. Personal development is facilitated through retreats, vocational discernment and discussions about dating and marriage. Campus ministries also seek to encourage leadership through participation in parish councils, internships and program coordination.

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