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SMHS Campus Ministry program fosters spiritual growth

11/04/2016 | Comments

COLORADO SPRINGS. Everything that St. Mary’s High School does is inspired by the Catholic faith that forms the foundation of the school. Campus Ministry is one of the ways that St. Mary’s seeks to inspire its students in their faith. It is a unique peer-centered program through which seniors help to build community and strengthen the faith lives of their fellow students.

Tena Jelinek and Father Brian Roeseler are the faculty co-sponsors for Campus Ministry. Jelinek said this school-wide ministry was established to enhance student and staff participation in liturgies, prayer services, retreats, service projects, and outreach.

“Our current Campus Ministers take their faith tradition and their faith life seriously,” she said.  “Together as a small-faith community, we focus not only on personal spiritual development but also on the ways in which the entire student body can develop a more active faith life.”

Roeseler said he feels the peer-based set up of Campus Ministry makes it an essential part of St. Mary’s. 

“Youth always listen and follow the example of youth before other adults,” Roeseler said. “With Campus Ministry, we have between 10 and 16 seniors each year who very much help set the spiritual tone for the entire school. The greatest way they help other students grow, I believe, is simply by their witness. They have experienced all that the others have, and they still live out and promote the faith.”

To become a Campus Minister, juniors submit an essay that addresses their faith life and servant leadership. That essay along with faculty and staff recommendations regarding a student’s dedication to their faith development and their leadership skills are how Campus Ministers are chosen. Jelinek and Roeseler look for students who live out their commitment to Christ in all areas of their lives.

“We look for students who are walking the walk and talking the talk,” Roeseler said. 
“Basically the Campus Ministers must strive to live the life of Christ, not only while doing this ministry but in all aspects of their lives, parish, family, social, and other school events.”

Building community within the St. Mary’s family is one significant role of Campus Ministry. Each year Campus Ministry hosts one-day, off-campus retreats for each grade level. Through team building activities, students learn about their classmates and grow in their relationships. Praying for St. Mary’s students, families, and teachers is another way Campus Ministry works to build community. 

“We prayerfully support those in need in our St. Mary’s community — a student who might be struggling or a teacher who is in ill health,” Jelinek said. “Campus Ministers truly see themselves as servant leaders in the model of Jesus Christ and strive to use their gifts for our community.”

While Campus Ministers are working to build up their fellow students, Roeseler said each minister also gains through their work, just as he as a priest and teacher grows when he ministers to others. 

“My favorite part of working with Campus Ministry is seeing them each grow and develop their relationships with Christ,” he said. “I think it can be a very humbling experience and sometimes when you see other’s challenges, you can reflect upon and grow through your own struggles. I love the one-on-one interaction I have with the ministers each week and seeing how their ministry helps them grow.”
The Campus Ministers from the class of 2016 developed this mission statement that is an apt description of their work at St. Mary’s:

“As Campus Ministers, we strive to be a source of positive energy rooted in passion for Christ, servant leadership, and a desire to be active in the SMHS community, whether it be in academics, faith life, sports, or extracurricular activities. We want to foster the growth of the community and see each of its members thrive.”


(Amy G. Partain is communications associate for St. Mary’s High School.)

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