Friday, July 21, 2006

Kudos to Newman Centers ....

Rocco has a long post on the invaluable contribution of Newman Centers to the life of the Church. [Sorry, can't link to the permalink. Damn blogger ban. The folks at BSNL in Baroda haven't yet gotten the word from on high ...]
Not long ago, diocesan funding cuts were so dire at one local Newman House that students were asked to each bring a roll of toilet paper to weekend Mass. No, I'm not kidding. It's a symptom that speaks to the truth of a moment in which you'll find two prevalent schools of ad intra thought when it comes to Catholic outreach on college campuses: 1. cut their funding, or 2. rejigger their priorities and disproportionately upping the emphasis on priestly/religious vocations, whilst cutting their funding.

This is an unwritten scandal of the current state of the church in this country.

Now more than ever, with the church frequently under siege in the realm of the secular academy, prophecies of doom, outcomes of confusion and superflous fruit of mass exodus dominating the headlines, the wider conversation and the lives of so many young Catholics, the mission of the Newman Center must remain to firstly and foremostly engage and encourage a school's Catholic community in the value and vocation of the life of faith, in all its diverse, rich and life-giving forms. Period. End of sentence.

When faced with the crises of this moment in history, it shouldn't be rocket science to figure out that you don't slash, marginalize or needlessly tinker with good programs which do the important work of forming and embracing the next generation in the broadest way possible. If anything, you redouble the effort.
I wonder if anyone in my diocese is reading that. They simply do not get the importance of campus ministry. At all. Zero vision. Zilch. The fact that our Bishop was once a campus minister seems not to have made much of a difference. And right now, there is so much transition -- the Paulists have left Clemson (and its campus ministry). The Director and Asst. Director of Campus Ministry have left their positions. My former pastor has a lot on his plate, not just with the fire at the Newman Center (it's been closed for repairs since May and will be for another eight weeks, it seems, well into the beginning of the next semester), but with having pretty much trying to keep some continuity going. Ok, I best stop. Rocco links to a heartening piece on the Newman Center at Arizona State. Anyone who loves campus ministry should go read it.

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