The “Be a Saint” project is a new program initiated by and offered through Campus Ministry encouraging students to grow in their faith through the program’s three components — pray, learn and serve.
In alignment with the University’s Catholic, Vincentian and Metropolitan mission, Campus Ministry wanted to push students to find their niche within the University’s mission to better the world.
Freshman Brenna Beluk, a member of the Be a Saint program, said it’s all about changing how people treat each other around campus.
“Be a Saint is St. John’s way to take the New York attitude out of the New York campus,” said Beluk. “We are trying to take strides towards having campus be a cordial and respectful place.”
According to James Walters, director of Resident Ministry, their mission with Be a Saint is to help students become leaders who emulate “the Saint in St. John’s.”
“When we look at the saints, we notice two common themes,” said Walters. “They have a deep relationship with God and because of that, they bring God to others.”
He feels that it is important to learn about these holy men and women because when students know the saints’ lives and missions, “they see a glimpse of God, a glimpse of heaven” and therefore “bring God to others through service and love.”
Walters, along with the rest of Campus Ministry, hopes that through these learning experiences, students can begin to imitate the saints and spread the word of peace and service. Through the different components of the Be a Saint project, Campus Ministry hopes that students will “grow in the University’s Catholic and Vincentian identity and [let it] transform your life and the life of the St. John’s community.”
Beluk added that “Campus Ministry is using this program to really spread the Vincentian love to Queens and beyond.”
The program’s “pray” component focuses on bringing students together in prayer and community. Walters invites students to attend mass throughout the week, but emphasizes the 5:30 p.m. student mass on Sundays, which he calls “the largest weekly gathering of students on campus.”
Another program that is a part of the pray component is Monday Night Rosary, which takes place at 8 p.m. in St. Thomas More Church. The Be a Saint project also invites students to utilize the prayer rooms in Donovan Hall, Century Hall and Hollis Hall.
“In a busy campus,” said Walters, “it is important to have a place to be quiet and to connect with God.”
One program that emphasizes the “learn” component is “Heroes of the Faith,” something that Walters says will expose students to extraordinary examples of courage and generosity in the lives of great Catholics. So far, the Heroes of the Faith program has looked at the lives of Saint Nicholas, Blessed Frederick Ozanam, a college student who changed the world, and St. Bernadette.
“So often we struggle to find credible role models to emulate,” said Walters. “This lecture series brings to life the stories of people who listened for God’s word in their heart and acted on it.”
In March, the program will be looking at St. Patrick and St. Joseph. In April, St. Francis and his Peace Prayer will be showcased during Peace Week.
Lastly, under the “serve” component, Be a Saint is encouraging students to participate in community service, emulating the Vincentian mission. Walters emphasizes incorporating prayer and reflection into the experience.
Kimberly Chirco, a student member of the program, said, “Even the smallest deed such as holding open a door or even just saying ‘hello’ to someone can make someone’s day.”
Walters said that the project is still in its early stage and that they are still collecting ideas on how to develop Be a Saint, hoping to be in full force by September.
“Our goal is that our students will not only receive a wonderful education where they are prepared to be successful in their vocation,” said Walters, “but because of Be a Saint and our Catholic and Vincentian identity, they will be saints in the world. Our world needs people who are making a difference, and our hope and our prayer is that when people meet our students, they will know they are from St. John’s because of the love they show toward others.”
For more information on the program, visit http://www.stjohns.edu/about/vincentian/ministry/be_a_saint.