A Home for Students
Another semester is almost over. It is crazy to think that it has been almost five years since I began my position as Director of Campus Ministry for the Diocese of Colorado Springs. What a wild ride!
One of the frustrating things about working with college students is how they just disappear. A student I can see every day one semester suddenly vanishes the next semester. Somebody who is very serious about their faith meets a boyfriend or girlfriend who is not serious, and they are gone. Job schedules change. People transfer.
I was thinking the other day about one student I met at Sunday Mass on campus the first weekend of this current semester. I haven’t seen him at Mass since. Sadly, this is not an uncommon occurrence. UCCS, my main campus, has an estimated 2,000 Catholic students enrolled. Our current student attendance at Mass is nowhere near that number.
There are many reasons for this. Perhaps that is a discussion for another time, but after working on this campus for five years, I can say with complete confidence that I know the number one reason: we do not have an adequate home for our students.
For a school the size of UCCS not to have a Campus Ministry Center or what some schools call a Newman Center is unusual. CU Boulder has one. So do CSU and UNC. Campus Centers are prevalent all over the country. They do amazing work at retaining students, helping them grow in their faith, teaching them to defend what they believe, and creating a home for students, a home where they can escape from so many forces on campus that attack what they believe and pull them away from the Church.
This summer I wrote a column about an upcoming meeting with the City Planning Commission. I am happy to report that we cleared that hurdle and our site plan was approved by the City of Colorado Springs. This summer we purchased six acres adjacent to UCCS. This will be the future home of our 9,000 square foot Campus Ministry Center, a building that will house a 300 seat chapel, office space, a great hall to host dinners and lectures, and lots of study and lounge space. The Center will have beautiful outdoor spaces, looks up to the gorgeous mountains, and is easy to walk to from campus.
We have our vision, but the vision has to become a reality. I need help! Most importantly, I need continued prayers that this project stays on track. Our goal is to open the fall semester of 2020, and we hope to break ground in 2019. Secondly, we need financial support for the project. I am very grateful for many donors who have joined our efforts. People across the Diocese have been pledging multi-year gifts or sending contributions.
There is still a lot of work to be done. Please visit www.buildingforthefuture.org. The site contains information about the plans for the Campus Ministry Center and two other worthy diocesan projects. It is possible to support all three projects or to direct funds specifically to the Campus Ministry Center. Spread the word far and wide! I know there are many people, both here in the Diocese and elsewhere, who will be interested in helping us.
This is about our future. If we continue to lose so many young Catholics while they are away at school, the future of our parishes and the future of our faith could look much differently.
If you live in the local area and would like a tour of the site, please do not hesitate to reach out. I would be happy to host you. Thank you for your prayers. It is time to build a home for our students. I know it will happen, especially with your prayers and support.