[This post originally was posted on Catholic-link.org.]
I remember when I first got involved with the Catholic Campus Ministry at William Paterson University.
I was nervous. New people. A new atmosphere. A new priest.
Sure, the faith was the same, but the way of doing things was different. I was involved in trying to form a ministry at my community college, but it fell through. So when I got to William Paterson, I had mixed feelings about jumping into a new ministry.
It can be intimidating, however, when you have a great community, I promise you that with these pieces of advice, you will be okay.
5 Tips for Getting Involved in Your College’s Catholic Ministry
- Be yourself: This should be common sense, but it’s natural to want people to like you. It doesn’t matter where you are spiritually compared to every one else in the room. If the faith is new to you, that’s okay. Being in the ministry will help you grow. Even if you aren’t Catholic, remember that you are more than welcome. Just walk in, introduce yourself, and jump into the activities.
- Get to know the priest: In all honesty, one of the biggest adjustments I encountered was getting used to a different priest. There was nothing wrong with him, but he was just very different personality wise from my pastor back home. If you are able to, try to meet the priest before everything starts. Reach out to him and tell him you’re interested in being involved in the ministry. Then, take it a step further and try to have some conversations with him. Maybe even meet him for coffee if your schedules permit. If you don’t have a chance to, then try to be open in conversation with him when you do speak to him.
- Stay active: One of the best things that you can do when you join a ministry is to be active in your participation. Go to as often to Mass as you can and take part in the social nights, community service projects, and faith formation events whenever possible. Even if you don’t know anyone, over time, you will get to know people and form friendships by being present at these important activities.
- Join the student government for the organization: During my senior year of college, I was the Public Relations Chairperson for our group. Many clubs do have regulations about being in positions, but if it’s an option, go for it! If you can’t, then try to be as helpful in the ministry as possible. Not only will it show the leaders of the ministry that you are capable of holding a position for next year, but it will help you feel involved.
- Try: Here is the truth- if you want to grow spiritually, you need to put the effort in on your end. God is ready for you. He is always ready for you. No matter where you are, He is ready to meet you there and help you grow. The college ministry can provide the tools for growth. Good friends, a good priest, going to Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, retreats, and other events, they are all things that can help nourish your soul spiritually. But you have to be the one to go to these things. And remember that what you put into it is what you will get out of it. So go off to that first meeting, be yourself, and “let go and let God.”
An Interview With Catholic Campus Minister Fr. James Searby