by Father Dan Morris
Just recently, the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center in Lawrence published a list of alumni who, dating back to the 1970s, have gone on to become consecrated religious or priests.
Impressive in both its breadth and length, it includes 10 women religious, 48 priests or male religious (of which I am one) and 19 other former Jayhawks currently in formation.
What has made the Catholic Campus Center so successful when it comes to producing this many religious vocations?
The answer is simple. The secular milieu found on most college campuses tends to create the conditions causing almost 80 percent of college students to stop practicing their faith. But for those students who are intentional about “getting connected” from the moment they arrive, they don’t just tend to survive, they actually thrive.
Not only do some discover their vocation to the priesthood or consecrated religious life, but all students discover the fullness of life that flows from being “connected” to the life of Jesus Christ.
This has been one of the many rewarding parts of my role as vocation director. Being in residence at the St. Lawrence Center, I have the privilege of witnessing firsthand the difference that “getting connected” makes in the lives of students, not to mention the impact they have on the overall life and mission of the center.
This includes being “connected” to a strong faith community and those who share the same values. It means belonging to a support system with whom to build lasting and virtuous friendships.
And finally, it provides a place they can continue to grow spiritually in their faith and relationship with God. In other words, it becomes a place they can call home.
So what is the key to having more of our young people find such a home during their years in college? We as their family, friends and parishes must do our part to help get them “connected.”
This is the mission of the Newman Connection. Named after St. John Henry Newman, the patron saint of Catholic campus centers, the Newman Connection helps serve as a bridge between Catholic high school students and campus ministers at secular universities.
They contact Catholic high schools nationwide to collect names of graduating seniors and where they are going to college. They then forward that information to the various universities’ Catholic Newman Center.
Those they have trouble getting information for are high school seniors who attend public schools. They need parishes and families to help expand their efforts to “connect” these students in hope they will find a home away from home as well.
To assist with this effort at parish level or to sign your son or daughter up, go online to: newman connection.com. In doing so, you will be helping them “get connected” and “stay connected” to Christ for life!