Keeping the Faith on Campus?

By Richard Magda
October 4, 2001

Hidden between two trees stands a simple, weathered, off-white statue of Jesus holding his barbed heart and offering his scarred hand. In any light, one could notice that he appears lonely at Cabrini College, watching students drift by on their way to class in Founder’s Hall.

Despite the attacks on the United States, students are not rushing to religion for comfort or answers. Instead, those who have been religiously uninvolved are continuing to passively ignore the outstretched hand and welcoming heart of the Catholic Church.

“Since what happened in New York City, I haven’t noticed any change in attendance or faith at mass,” said John Verdi, junior, who is the leader of Campus Ministry’s First Year retreat. “It’s basically the same people there as were in attendance before the attacks.”

Although interest has not noticeably increased in the Bruckmann Chapel of St. Joseph since the World Trade Center disaster, several student-organized prayer vigils have sprouted around campus. Since some students were unable to attend the initial service held by Cabrini College, other students have taken it upon themselves to help remember the victims and pray for the survivors and rescue workers.

A prayer service called “See You at the Pole,” for the leaders of our country and for the expression of students’ feelings, was organized by junior Kaity Barnes. Both students and faculty were in attendance. As another part of the program, Barnes also prepared the “Campus Cares” banner, which can be seen in the Wigwam.

Also leading students in prayer, Verdi organized a Residence Life sponsored service at the peace pole on Sept. 17. Gathered at the pole, which was surrounded by candles, students prayed in song and word.

“Along with the candle light vigil that I held at the peace pole, I have noticed other involved students holding their own services as well,” said Verdi. “Kaity Barnes held a prayer service, too. I noticed a lot of faculty and staff there with students. Some professors even brought their College Success classes out to join the crowd.”

Although not attending mass or prayer services at Cabrini, some students practice their faith and pray at their own churches.

“As a freshman, I went to church here every Sunday,” said Mary Catherine McDonald. “I went on a regular basis last year too, but this year I am partial to the masses at home. I didn’t go to any of the prayer services on campus, but I wish I would have.”

Keeping the victims of the disaster in mind, other students express their religious beliefs in unique, untraditional ways.

“I would rather do what God put me here to do,” said Dave Johanson, junior. “I’d rather show him with actions than tell him with words. By doing that, I feel like he knows that I appreciate the gifts he has given me instead of hearing about them.”

With such diversity in where and how students of Cabrini College follow their faith, it can be expected that involvement in campus is stagnant. However, what most students are not aware of is that Campus Ministry offers services and makes it their policy to tend to the college student, according to Verdi.

Like many churches and religious groups, Campus Ministry is stepping forward in the wake of the strikes on the United States to comfort, offer prayers, and maybe gather a few enlightened souls to join their mission.

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Richard Magda

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