Campus Ministry in the Diocese of Des Moines assists college/university students and staff at seven different campuses around southwestern Iowa by nurturing their faith liturgically, with cultural immersion trips, prayer and faith sharing groups, as well as service and social justice projects. Fr. Joel McNeil, diocesan director for Campus Ministry, estimates that there are over 10,000 Catholic students attending 12 campuses of 9 different institutions in the diocese (for example, DMACC has 3 different branches).
Diocesan campus ministry is well established or underway at: Drake University, Simpson College, Grand View University, Graceland University, Mercy College of Health Sciences, Des Moines University, and Southwestern Community College. Campus Ministry programs are being established at the Des Moines Area Community College (Ankeny campus) and Iowa Western Community College.
As Father McNeil writes in the fall newsletter, “We do a lot of important work here. This is a crucial age when young people decide whether to remain Catholic or leave the faith. Studies show that students involved in campus ministry are more likely to remain Catholic, to be leaders in the Church, and to consider religious vocations.”
It is very important that our parishes promote the work in campus ministry, especially to the potential students that may attend these institutions. As a high school youth minister or a catechetical leader, please take some time between January and April and ask each of your high school seniors what college they will be attending. This information can be used as part of a graduation prayer service or celebration or it can be a way to keep in touch with them once they are off at college. One other important task is to provide them and their parents with information about the campus ministry program at that college or university. This is one more way to say to your families that our Catholic faith is important and formation is a lifelong journey.
Below is the recent edition of Living Our Faith, the student newsletter at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Student Center.