College is a place where people grow, not just intellectually, but also personally and spiritually. Our campus has been around for a while, but only recently added dorms. The addition of dorms means that St. John’s has become our home. It is where we eat, sleep, live and pray, and although this is a Catholic University, the idea of ministering to students in their everyday lives is something that is only now being seen completely.
St. John’s is building a program of on-campus ministry activities, including teaching the sacraments, faith and sharing. It will also offer retreats, opportunities for community service and there will be ministers readily available on campus. Despite these efforts, however, the University still hasn’t truly acquired a ‘spiritual character.’ This is something that is greatly lacking, and can’t be provided by the faculty, but is dependent on the students themselves.
At many Catholic universities that are well-established with students living on campus there is a well-defined spiritual character. Notre Dame, for instance, has a chapel in every hall, as well as a beautiful cathedral on campus. It also has a prayer grotto dedicated to the Virgin Mary, all of which are constantly being visited by the students.
St. John’s is attempting to build a spiritual atmosphere like that, but it is just beginning to do so, and success depends on the students.
The University is planning to build a church on campus next year, which I hope will be an awe-inspiring structure. In the meantime we are left with the Chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. This chapel isn’t nearly as inspirational in its construction as it could be. However, the important thing isn’t where the Mass is conducted, but the Mass itself. St. John’s has an entourage of good priests who are here to help us. Mass is offered in the Chapel twice daily, at 8 a.m., and again at 12:15 p.m. The Sunday masses are at 11 a.m., and again at 8 p.m., with the 8 p.m. Mass set aside as the ‘Student Mass.’
Confession is also readily available on campus, which is a good thing, considering that we are college students and many of us are often in need of confession. There is a confessional in the chapel, and a priest available at 11:55 a.m. on weekdays, as well as at 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Besides the sacraments there is also a Faith Sharing session Wednesdays at 7 p.m., as well as several retreats throughout the year. The next retreat is scheduled for Nov. 19th The University cannot give us a personal relationship with Christ. The University has, however, provided opportunities to facilitate our spiritual growth – the rest is up to us.