Living Hope Newsletter – June 2013
Catholic Campus Ministry Holds Annual Retreat
The Claretians’ Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) is growing and thriving at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. Students can fully immerse themselves in Catholic traditions by attending one of CCM’s daily Masses, the Thursday evening adoration group, Reconciliation services, or a benediction service. CCM also gives back to the local community through numerous service projects with local nonprofits—including Convoy of Hope, the Kitchen on Springfield’s north side, the Dance Bear-a-thon, and Meals a Million programs.
This past October, CCM held its annual weekend Awakening Retreat. This retreat is the largest completely student-led event at the ministry, calling on over 50 students to serve 32 “Awakeners” from Drury University and Missouri State University. It was a wonderful weekend, but the students had major obstacles to overcome.
Before the retreat, a large thunderstorm rolled through the Springfield area. The next morning, retreat leaders were happy to see that the roof hadn’t leaked, but no one thought of checking the basement. Later that day, they discovered a half-inch of water throughout the hall, kitchen, bathrooms, and storage area due to an overwhelmed sump pump. To prevent mold, two feet of plasterboard had to be removed from all the walls, and the tile floor had to be taken up. In this process, the kitchen and bathrooms were completely dismantled.
Despite these setbacks, CCM’s students resolved to hold the Awakening Retreat. Because of the destruction, aall the students had to sleep on the first floor. Space was so tight, everyone had to be careful opening doors to be sure they didn’t step on a sleeping student! The students also turned CCM’s conference room into a makeshift kitchen to prepare the meals. Without the use of a stove, the cooks kept multiple crock-pots simmering most of the weekend to prepare food for the retreat. Students’ spirits remained high despite the unfortunate circumstances.
The theme of this year’s retreat was “Dust.” In Jesus’ time, disciples spent a lot of time with their rabbis. Walking with their teachers, disciples were often covered with dust kicked up by their teacher’s footsteps. For the retreat, the goal was to help the new Awakeners commit themselves to closely following the Lord so as to be covered by His dust.
As part of the staff ’s preparation before the retreat, they opened their hearts to the Holy Spirit’s movement and celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The retreat began Friday night with two student speakers discussing the topics, “Who Am I?” and “Who Is Christ?” Each session was followed by small-group discussion and activities. The night ended with a campfire, reflective music, and evening prayer.
Saturday’s retreat speakers focused on “Faith and Prayer,” “Palanca,” “Power of Sin,” and “Change of Heart.” Groups also preformed skits, played games, and participated in other activities that provoked reflection.
he newly “Awakened” students were then invited to celebrate Reconciliation, which was followed by adoration and songs of praise. Retreat participants then capped off Saturday night with a celebratory dance party.
On Sunday, the final speaker spoke on “Responding to God’s Call.” The retreat ended with Mass, which brought this enthusiastic crowd of young people to a sense of completion and a new commitment to faithful discipleship.
Yale—the New Claretian
This past year, an independent group in Paris published their rankings of universities throughout the world, and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, was ranked number two. The vision of a global platform for the Claretian’s ministry fits perfectly within the global scope of a world-class university. Even so, Fr. Eddie De León was hesitant at first when he was invited by Yale University’s Chaplain, Rev. Robert Beloin, to apply to St. Thomas More Chapel for the position of Assistant Chaplain.
Fr. Eddie decided to apply for the position, and was invited to campus. “After a long, grueling day of interviews with students, alum, faculty, and staff, I was at peace,” Fr. Eddie said. “I decided that if this was a mission that I should be sent to by the Claretians, it would happen. And it did!”
It has now been a year and a half since Fr. Eddie’s arrival at Yale. His responsibilities are as diverse as most ministry sites, but the major part of his job involves working with graduate students and leading a new initiative with Latino students. “Serving at this level has its own unique challenges,” he said, “yet it is one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had in higher education.”
The mission at St. Thomas More Chapel is to compliment the academic rigors of Yale with programs that promote Catholic intellectual life on campus. Fr. Eddie enjoys his new position and the opportunities it presents for him and the Claretians. “Imagine, if you will, preaching on a Sunday morning to some of the world’s brightest students, Yale faculty members, and an internationally diverse assembly. There is nothing like it.” With his arrival, Yale University has become a new Claretian frontier, and another sign of their commitment to campus ministry and education.