by Father John Melnick, SSA
Campus ministry at Donnelly College, like life in general, is an all-encompassing thing. Whether it’s an informal gathering to discuss multi-cultural understanding, weekday Mass in the seventh-floor chapel, or planning a community party for students and staff, the goal of campus ministry at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kan., remains the same: to share the love of God in Jesus Christ and the beauty of our Catholic faith.
Tailored to the needs of Donnelly College’s unique multicultural make-up, and focusing on both the student body as well as the faculty and staff, campus ministry’s mission is primarily one of education and pastoral care for the people of God at Donnelly College.
It’s a kind of ministry that involves everyone at Donnelly College. It promotes positive student development, provides care and guidance, challenges systems that are obstacles to positive development, and maintains a contact/referral list to connect members of the Donnelly College community and their families to support services as needed.
Furthermore, in the context of pastoral care, Donnelly’s campus ministry utilizes the church’s instruments of catechesis, community life, evangelization, justice and service, leadership development, and prayer and worship.
Catechesis happens in many ways: theology classes, faith discussion groups, informal discussions, and a lot more. Whether it’s walking the hallways or gathering to pray, we seek to provide knowledge of the Catholic faith to stu- dents and faculty, with the development of practical skills for living the Catholic faith in today’s world.
This kind of practical knowledge of the faith is, in itself, a kind of “evangelization,” whereby the Donnelly College community calls and empowers students to be evangelizers of other students, their families and the greater community. Thanks to Andrew Julo, Service Learning coordinator at Donnelly, programs are built into study courses so that students can “give back” to the wider community, sharing the insights, knowledge and Christian values they acquire at the college.
Donette Alonso, vice president of student affairs, helps to guide community life — collaborating with campus ministry, students, faculty and staff. Her office provides avenues for participating in a model of community life which acknowledges, celebrates and values friendship and faith.
Prayer and worship are also an essential part of campus ministry: With great respect to our cultural diversity, prayer is nonetheless encouraged in all our classes. Weekday Masses are regularly celebrated on campus, and I — along with Sister Marie Kathleen Daugherty, SCL, and a host of others — work to deepen a relationship with Jesus Christ through communal prayer and liturgical experiences.
Campus ministry also works with the wider faculty and administration to enflesh the church’s compendium of social teaching. Consequently, concepts of justice, human dignity and the interconnectedness of persons in society are also built into the “Donnelly experience.” Susan Keim, Dr. Brenda Harris, and many others have developed classes and course work that involve students in actions of direct service to those in need and in efforts to address the causes of in- justice and inequity to nurture a lifelong commitment to service and justice.
In short, campus ministry at Donnelly College participates in the church’s mission to “make Jesus tangibly present” in everything we are and everything we do.