Written on: January 31, 2014
Ever wonder what a Campus Ministry leader does on Christmas break? Mine was perhaps a little different experience than the average college student.
After finals week, my plan was to hibernate for the first couple days to recuperate, but that didn’t exactly happen. Back at home, my parents teach a confirmation class on Sunday nights. While they were planning their next lesson, I jokingly offered to teach their class, and after some consideration, it was decided that I could be their guest speaker for the night.
They were continuing a lesson on the sacraments. They asked me to lead an “ice-breaker” game, then talk about the importance of the sacraments and keeping the Catholic faith in college. The class started with a brief overview of what they covered the previous week, including the definition of a sacrament, and details about each of the seven sacraments.
For my creative game, I led the class through an activity that required them to write a song about a sacrament to the tune of a popular Christmas carol.
It was an amusing success, but what I enjoyed the most was sharing my deep love for the Catholic faith with teens I understood.
Evangelizing is so beneficial and advantageous when you can genuinely connect with who you are talking to. There was so much crucial information and advice I wanted to give these young minds in a short amount of time, without scaring them with my crazy enthusiasm.
After introducing myself, I told the teens how grateful I was for finding Catholic Campus Ministry at UNC-Charlotte. I spoke of the experiences, the people, and the importance it brought to my life. I was so blessed to have been given a strong Catholic faith in my family when I was young, and then to have it be nourished through my family values, high school ministry group, and numerous retreats and service opportunities. I encouraged the group to find a Catholic Campus Ministry at their campuses and get involved in any way they could, just as I had.
I explained the prominent importance of the knowledge and foundation they were receiving by coming to confirmation class. We have to stand for something and know what we believe in, or we will fall for anything. On our own with new freedoms and responsibilities in college, many alluring traps open and try to drag us down, and we can easily lose our firm grasp on our faith.
Without a solid foundation to their “faith building,” college students have no ground to stand on to deal with all the social and academic stresses that they are dealt. I told the students to make sure their foundation is built on rock, not sand. When unsure of their actions or under pressure of temptation, just act like their mother is watching, I suggested. That always makes me think twice about my decisions. God is ultimately forgiving and knows our every action, but everyone knows the disappointed look of their mother!
After setting a firm foundation in faith, one has to start building. “Make friends who share your values and your faith. They make you a better person, you always have topics to talk about, and you help bring each other closer to God and deepen your faith,” I told them.
The next level includes participating in the sacraments and going to Mass. This needs to be a priority, and there are no exceptions. Mass is an hour each week. Compare that to the time spent on Netflix or social media each day, and there’s really no excuse for not giving God His time each day and each week.
Through Campus Ministry, I have been open to numerous volunteer service opportunities and retreats with young adult Catholics like me. My “faith building” gets taller and taller every day.
With all of this growing, we need to remember that our Best Friend wants to talk to us, too. This makes up the next level: prayer. For how connected teenagers are to their phones texting their friends, we should be talking to God just as often. Whether it is walking between classes, a homework or study break, or taking a shower, just talk to God. He always wants to talk, so answer His call and listen to what He’s telling you.
I am blessed and grateful for the great experience I had during my Christmas break, and I always look forward to sharing my love for Jesus with my brothers and sisters in Christ!
Sr. Eileen Spanier, GNSH, works as Catholic Campus Minister at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Alexis Neitzey is a student leader for Catholic Campus Ministry at UNC Charlotte.