Over the past three years, the number of students actively engaged in our ministry has increased dramatically. This is the second in a four part series to help resident parishioners understand the student parishioners and how we go about our mission of evangelizing and building up disciples among them.
In this part, I am sharing our vision for evangelization and discipleship. This vision is the product of the Parish Pastoral Council’s Campus Ministry Subcommittee from 2017-2018. The subcommittee consisted of myself, Dick McGarvey and two student parishioners, Sergio Ramos and Jenna Fisher. In the next part, I will share how we go about implementing this vision concretely.
Our vision is straightforward: to reach the students of IU, especially the lost, to transform them from believers to disciples, and to send missionary disciples into the world.
REACH. TRANSFORM. SEND.
Around 90% of our student parishioners are either unengaged or curious. In other words, most students aren’t looking to find us. Consequently, our first step must be to reach as many of our student parishioners as we can — on campus, in dorms, wherever they are. We reach them in two ways: personal encounter and social events.. Personal encounter is when an engaged/committed student meets another student, invests time and energy into building a relationship and accompanying them, and invites them to take the next step. Social events are planned throughout the year at St. Paul’s, on campus, and off campus. They serve as an opportunity for a community of engaged/committed students to meet their unengaged/curious peers. In both ways, we make every effort to ensure the people we reach encounter a welcoming community. Because this is the first and most important step, the vast majority of our energy and resources go to this step.
After we reach and welcome students into our community, we invite them to walk with us on the path of conversion and new life in Jesus Christ. In this stage, we proclaim the message of Jesus to make disciples of Jesus; we share the kerygma — the Good News of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and His mission to save us; we invite them into leadership; we teach them how to pray; we ask them to transform their lives.
The work of the disciple is to make more disciples. Therefore, after a student has been welcomed and transformed in the grace of Christ and His Church, we prepare students to go back out and to do the work. To know and love Christ, to live in His love is to share that love with the world. On campus, this takes the form of personal encounter and investment in other students. In the community, this takes the form of service and mission trips. Students transformed by grace are sent to share, to welcome, to invite, to transform others.
Fr. Patrick is a Dominican priest and the Campus Minister.