Recently, I was listening to a radio commercial for a small family-owned jewelry store. The owner was discussing the effects the pandemic had on his business and indicated that cross necklaces have been one of the most popular items in his store.
People feel extremely close to God, maybe even more so over the past 12 months. People are seeking spiritual guidance and frequently praying, seeking comfort from God. It must be challenging for college students who may be studying at home or if on campus, isolated from their families. Many students turn to campus ministry for inspiration and support during these difficult times.
“As was true on many college campuses this semester, the campuses at Eastern Connecticut State University, the University of Connecticut, Wesleyan University and Connecticut College were pretty quiet,” the Very Reverend Laurence LaPointe, Campus Ministry director, said. “Since we were not able to hold many of our usual in-person events, we concentrated on what we could do to let the students know that the Campus Ministry was still there for them. Weekly Catholic Mass for all four campus communities was still available either in-person or remotely. Campus ministers stayed in touch with the students through e-mails with any information that was thought to be helpful. ‘Words of wisdom,’ pictures, links to websites, songs or prayers were all shared. Personal appearances on campus, although limited, were still possible.”
Virtual Bible studies were available to the UCONN community through the auspices of FOCUS, a national evangelizing organization active on the UCONN campus. The Office of Vocations sponsors a weekly holy hour and Mass for vocations at UCONN on Thursday evenings. At Eastern, Shawn’s Cupboard, a student-led food pantry jointly sponsored with the Foundation for Campus Ministry, continued to combat student hunger by serving more than 75 students last semester. The Campus Ministry at Connecticut College reached out to students through the internet and offered weekly Masses, both on-line and in the beautiful Harkness Chapel. Wesleyan students and faculty found encouragement and inspiration through words of wisdom, including hyperlinks to thought-provoking websites and articles.
“All in all, the campus ministries found students, faculty and staff on all campuses to be pretty resilient.” Fr. LaPointe said. “We will continue our email blasts throughout the winter vacation and pray that everyone stays healthy as we look forward to next semester and wonder about our ‘new normal.’”
Brendan Leddy, an Eastern Connecticut State University alumnus, reminisced about the importance of attending weekly Mass on campus no matter the weather. “I remember one Sunday evening during the winter walking to Mass and it was so cold. I removed my hat before Mass started and my hair was actually frozen.”
As one of our Annual Catholic Appeal supported ministries, Campus Ministry benefits from your generous donations to the ACA. Our ministries provide physical, spiritual and economic help to those dealing with day-to-day challenges and the added burdens imposed by the cold weather and the pandemic. On behalf of those who have generously given to our 2020 ACA, thank you so very much. We will be launching our 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal, “One Faith, One Family,” in March. If you have not finished making your 2020 pledge payments, you may contact Heather Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 886-1928 to do so. Thank you so much for your continued kindness.
By Gina Foster