Campus Notebook: Campus ministry survey; Martin faces more resistance

This article appears in the Campus Notebook feature series. View the full series.

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Franciscan Sr. Laura Zelten hands a rose to a university of Wisconsin-Green Bay student during the university's "OrgSmorg" event in the student center Feb. 3, 2016. The rose giveaway was part of True Love Week, organized by Catholic campus ministry groups to spread a message about abstinence. (CNS/Sam Lucero, The Compass)

WASHINGTON — A survey of more than 4,000 Catholic campus ministers and students at U.S. colleges, commissioned by the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Catholic Education, showed that both the ministers and the students generally like what's happening in their campus ministries.

Campus ministers reported that among personal activities, Bible study and reconciliation stand apart from other activities as contributing to students' growth in faith. Mass, retreats, small groups and one-on-one mentoring are more significant than social events, catechesis and sacramental preparation.

Campus ministers also report strong relationships with students, but wish the students would participate more.

In a separate survey, students reported weekly involvement in personal activities through campus ministry, with the most common being prayer with Scripture, Bible study, spiritual reading, devotional prayer and meditation and contemplation activities.

Students also reported that they struggle with a great deal with pornography and mental health issues.

The survey found great concern among students with caring for the poor and immigrants, racial tensions and pro-life issues.

The research findings, which were analyzed at a conference in October, are expected to lead to development of a new curriculum of formation, preparation and ongoing professional development for campus ministers.

DALLAS, Penn. — Jesuit Fr. James Martin is facing resistance at yet another Catholic university.

TFP Student Action, a project of the conservative Catholic organization The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, has been promoting a petition since Nov. 10 to remove Martin, who the petition says is “like a wolf is [sic] sheep's clothing,” as commencement speaker at Misericordia University’s winter 2017 graduation because of his support for the LGBT community. As of Friday, the petition has 18,254 signatures.

Martin has had talks cancelled in the United States and Britain in recent months since the publication of his book Building a Bridge, in which he advocates for increased dialogue between church hierarchy and the LGBT community. The cancellations have come after online campaigns by far-right Catholic groups. Church leaders and Martin’s superiors have voiced their support for Martin and decried the attacks against him.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Center for Urban Education at Canisius College has announced the introduction of the new Western New York Teacher Residency program starting in the fall of 2018 in a Nov. 10 press release.

“Similar to medical school residencies, where physicians are trained in hospitals alongside practicing clinicians, residents in this new program will co-teach for a full year alongside veteran educators who will coach and gradually ease them into more responsibilities throughout the school year,” Jeffrey Lindauer, dean of the School of Education and Human Services at Canisius College, said in the press release.

The teacher residency will accept approximately 10 graduate student applicants every year and will be funded for two years by the Cullen Foundation. Those in the program will be given first consideration at partnering schools. 


BUTTE, MT. — Montana Tech Catholic Campus Ministry will host Massachusetts Institute of Technology associate professor of mechanical engineering Cullen Buie at its third Veritas Forum, according to a Nov. 9 email by Fr. Patrick Beretta, parish priest of Catholic churches in the area.

Veritas Forums have taken place at universities since 1992. According to their website, Veritas Forums “place the historic Christian faith in dialogue with other beliefs and invite participants from all backgrounds to pursue Truth together.”

Buie holds degrees from The Ohio State University and Stanford University; he is a former President's Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Chair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

ST. PAUL — The University of St. Thomas announced in a Nov. 16 press release that it has received a $50 million gift from the GHR Foundation and the estate of Gerald Rauenhorst. The gift comes at the beginning of the university’s $200 million dollar scholarship drive.

The $50 million gift is the largest endowed scholarship donation in the history of Minnesota higher learning, and will establish a four-year endowed scholarship program for business majors. Those who receive the highly competitive scholarship, known as “GHR Fellows,” will not only receive full tuition, but also a fully funded study abroad opportunity, access to business and community leaders, and other benefits.

“As chair of the university’s $200 million scholarship initiative, I know GHR’s gift will inspire great acts of generosity to further support St. Thomas in educating students to be principled leaders who think critically, work skillfully and act wisely to advance the common good.” Amy Rauenhorst Goldman, CEO and chair of GHR Foundation and University of St. Thomas Board trustee, said in the press release.

UNITED STATES — Trustees at colleges and universities believe that the business model for institutions of higher learning needs to be updated, according to a new survey of trustees at Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges member institutions by Gallup.

Ninety-two percent of respondents say the business model needs to be updated and 57 percent say that the public’s perception of higher education has been eroding over the last decade.

The trustees were asked to rank their top three concerns about the future of higher education in the U.S.; the top three responses were the cost of education, which nearly three quarters of respondents agreed was too high, followed by student debt and the ability of institutions to respond to the needs of students and employers.

When asked about the biggest barrier to change at colleges and universities, over a quarter of trustees cited lack of support from faculty. Notably, they do not blame themselves or each other: Only 1 percent cited lack of board support, and 3 percent cited lack of unanimity among board members.

[James Dearie is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Contact him at]

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