It is hard to believe it has been over four years since I moved back to Colorado from the Archdiocese of Washington. Time flies! As I have said in previous posts, this was not an easy decision for me, but I am glad I made the change.
Colorado Springs has changed a lot since I was a teenager growing up here, but in so many ways we still have a small town mentality. This is especially prevalent in people who have lived here for a long time. It is kind of strange how even after seeing all the growth and experiencing the changes firsthand, people still think of the Colorado Springs of days gone by.
This is also true for the local Church. We have seen new parishes, new rectories, a growing number of priests and seminarians, and an increase in the number of Catholics. Yet, at times, we still see ourselves as a small diocese.
It is time to think bigger.
Obviously as Director of Campus Ministry, I am especially biased toward us thinking bigger about the student population whom we seek to serve. It is hard for people who have lived here a long time to see the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs as anything other than a small commuter school. But that could not be further from the truth. The UCCS I know is a thriving growing campus of over 12,000 students, and according to the Newman Connection, over 2,000 Catholics! There are new buildings popping up all over campus, new dorms, new academic opportunities, and a broadening approach to recruiting both nationally and internationally. When we add the UCCS population to that of Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado College, and other 18-22 year olds who are in the military, working, volunteering, in trade schools, and other places, the population campus ministry in the diocese seeks to serve is vast.
For four years, I have been running campus ministry out of a house with a chapel that seats twenty people. We have been serving Thursday dinners out of my laundry room, and I have heard more confessions in stairwells on campus, at Panera, and in my car than I care to mention.
Thanks be to God, we are thinking bigger when it comes to serving our college age population. With the great support of Bishop Sheridan, we are actively seeking to build a Campus Ministry Center also known as a Newman Center to serve our diocese.
There are some who do not think we need it. There are some whose negativity is frustrating, but we will not be discouraged. As the former Chaplain at the University of Maryland, I have seen firsthand how powerful a strong campus ministry can be in the lives of young people. I have seen firsthand how Jesus transforms lives, and how the next generation of Catholics is formed.
This work is vital. It is important. Some could effectively argue that campus ministry is one of the most important missions in today’s Church.
Help me think bigger. Please pray for this effort. Pray that we can be successful in doing this important work for our future. It is going to take a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of money, and a lot of patience, but it is necessary, and it will be worth it.
We should never be afraid to think bigger when it comes to the work of evangelization and the work of building our relationship with Jesus Christ. There is too much at stake to fear setting the bar high.