We are all called to serve the life, growth of others - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

We are all called to serve the life, growth of others

Among the life-giving events on my spring calendar is a meeting with our campus ministers. Our director of Young Adult and Campus Ministries, Shannon Loughlin, convenes the group for a 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. session. In the morning they do some organizational and business chores, but devote most of their time to reviewing and sharing their experience of the year just ending.

I joined them on Wednesday in conversation from noon until the end of the meeting. It is always a rich session for me. It is a pleasure to be in the company of such devoted women and men. They are gifted. They are experienced. They are deeply committed to the communities they serve. One cannot be among them for very long without noting that they are focused on the students to whom they minister with a deep desire to do all in their power to serve the growth of the students as human beings and as people of faith.

To help others grow to the full stature that the Lord desires for each one of us is something that we are all called to do by virtue of our baptism. We all have that call, but we do it in many different ways. You try to do it one way, and I try to do it in another. Our gifts, responsibilities and opportunities are different, and we may serve different individuals or groups. Mother and fathers, teachers, friends, firefighters, taxi drivers and bishops serve the life and growth of others in different ways. But, for disciples of the Lord, that call to serve is inseparably part of our baptismal call.

For our friends in campus ministry the main focus is on young adults who are going through an intense and pivotal phase of their lives. They try to understand and accept the students as they are, to encourage them in prayer to connect more deeply with the richness of our faith tradition and, out of the tradition, help them to negotiate the complex challenges young people face today.

I admire very much the solid faith and lively hope our campus ministers bring to their ministry. During their relatively brief stay on campus, their students are intensely engaged in academic work, the adjustments that we all make when leaving home and planning for what — especially in these days — may seem to be an uncertain future.

In the face of all of that our campus ministers provide attractive programs, spend long hours in conversation with students, and invite the students to prayer and worship. On occasion they see the immediate and beautiful fruits of their labor. But, they are mindful that they may not frequently have such consoling moments. Rather, their desire is that through their presence in the community, their instruction, their challenges, the witness of their own faith they can plant seeds that will one day bear fruit in the lives of the students they serve.

To me, such a disposition is a wonderful reminder that God’s ways are not always our ways, that we don’t set God’s schedule, that while fruitful, Christian discipleship is always a source of great joy, but it carries no guarantee of instant gratification.

I am most grateful to our sisters and brothers in campus ministry not only for the gift of their company Wednesday but for the gift of their ministry to our college and university students. It is a blessing to the church.

Peace to all.

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