|World & Nation|
|George Weigel Column|
|Breaking Open The Word|
|Letters to the Editor|
|Family Health & Wellness|
|Arts & Entertainment|
September 10, 2008
Catholic campus ministry celebrates 100 years on Boulder campus
By Jennifer Voelker
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., commemorated 100 years of Catholic campus ministry at the University of Colorado with an open air Mass, Sept. 7.
The Mass included several concelebrants, among them Auxiliary Bishop James Conley and Father Kevin Augustyn, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center, which serves the university. Enjoying the beauty of the foothills the campus is nestled against, the Mass drew a crowd of more than 2,000 alumni, students, staff and their families to Norlin Quadrangle.
Archbishop Chaput said the outdoor Mass on a secular campus was a visible sign of the religious freedom we enjoy in the United States and he thanked the University of Colorado for permitting it.
“We are strong if we publicly profess our faith in a respectable way,” the archbishop said.
Among the prayer intentions was a petition that Catholic ministry will continue to be a beacon of faith to the university community. The supplications included a request for the blessing of the United States on the seventh anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Campus ministry is vital because it’s estimated that 80 percent of students stop practicing their faith during their college years, said Mass homilist Father Augustyn.
Father Augustyn encouraged students, staff and alumni to boldly and confidently live out their Catholic faith. He told the congregation that to be a beacon of Christ’s light, one must be reconciled with Christ through reconciliation.
“Christ is a bright burning star,” the priest said. “He is to light us on fire.”
In his remarks, Archbishop Chaput noted that all founding American universities, such as Harvard and Yale, began as Christian learning institutions.
“There is no dividing line for us with (faith and) education,” said Archbishop Chaput.
The Catholic presence on the CU campus can be traced back to Oct. 25, 1908, when a Newman Club was established by Benedictine Father Agatho Strittmatter, then pastor of Boulder’s Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish. Out of that club founded for university students, staff and faculty evolved St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish, now called St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center.
Archbishop Chaput ended the centennial anniversary Mass by saying he hopes the next 100 years will continue to see a blossoming of faith at the University of Colorado.
“I’m happy to help them celebrate the Mass”, said Tayo Adeeko, a university senior and St. Thomas Aquinas parishioner. She added the parish community has revitalized campus ministry the last two years.
Staff, students and parishioners from the St. Thomas Aquinas Center worked all summer to organize the liturgy. The mission of the parish community has always been to minister to CU students, faculty, and alumni and the surrounding Boulder community, said Matt Boettger, St. Thomas Aquinas Center’s director of Outreach and Evangelization. The St. Thomas Aquinas community revolves around campus ministry, Boettger said.
To open the 2008-09 academic year, campus ministers used a new event called Dorm Storm to attract freshman to the St. Thomas Aquinas community. Dorm Storm ministers greeted new freshman the first few weeks of the fall semester with an information bag, fun events and a bag of cookies. Events included daily barbeques during the freshman move-in week, an ‘80s dance party, and a casino night at the student center, with about 150 students attending the opening events, Boettger said.
The traditional Sunday student suppers continue following the 6 p.m. Sunday Mass. Every week, a parish family makes dinner and serves about 100 students. The parish community is also hosting a lecture series at the university this fall. The talks are open to the public.