Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Start a Catholic Group on YOUR Campus!

"Curtis" emailed me the following question, and I have received his permission to publish our exchange on my blog. Catholic evangelization is very important on college campuses, where students are often asking questions about religion for the first time. It's also good to have a support group for the Catholics on campus, especially if you go to a secular institution. I hope my answer to Curtis' question is helpful to my other readers as well.
Awesome apologetics blog! I attend Purdue University, and my roommate and I are considering starting a Catholic Truth League here on campus. The organization would have the mission of evangelization and apologetics. We have a lot of ideas for activities and events, but we were wondering if this type of group exists at other colleges that could give us some more ideas and practical advice. Do you know of any such college student organizations? Do you have any ideas for evangelization on campus? Eventually we would like to have a presence in the dorms to provide support for incoming freshmen who are always being challenged by the very influential and powerful "inter-denominational" christian groups on campus. You seemed to be someone who might have ideas. Thought I'd ask. God bless you with the work you are doing for the Church.
Thank you for writing! I'm sorry that it has taken me so long to respond. I'm in the middle of finals week at FUS, so things have been pretty crazy.

Anyway, the largest group of the kind you are referring to would be Fellowship of Catholic University Students, or FOCUS. They'll actually send missionaries (young adult like yourself) who are trained in going to colleges and starting up Catholic ministries, including a Bible study. They'll live there for at least a year, helping you to get the ball rolling and training people to take their place. It's an amazing thing. The catch is that they won't go to a college or university unless the bishop invites them.

If you want to check them out, here's their website:
--FOCUS

If you don't want to mess with that, it's pretty easy to start up a Catholic group on your own. First, you'd want to round up some signatures of people who would be interested in something like what you want to offer so you can show your student government association that there is legitimate interest, thus reason to sanction a new club/organization.

Then you would start advertising. Use every means possible: campus tv and radio, flyers, posters, little signs to put on the lunch tables and above the water fountains and the urinals, hehe. Make t-shirts, start a blog, send out a mass email, do everything you can to advertise your group.

Then you just have to give them a reason to come. When I started a catholic club on my campus (back when I went to a Methodist school), I tried to provide opportunities both to learn and to grow spiritually. Each night I would present a different Catholic doctrine. But, I also organized trips to monastaries, and old Cathedrals, and other holy places. You could get people together to go to the Right to Life March. Also, if you have the money, you could have speakers come to talk about doctrine or spirituality.

You can also lead your own bible study. Catholic Exchange offers one of the best ones I've seen. I actually lead this study for my parish for 3 years. Here's the link:
--Catholic Scripture Study

You'll want to fundraise some way, at least until your club can have access to your student government association's budget for student activities. You could sell t-shirts, or rosaries, or brownies, or whatever. You could raffle off an ipod (everyone wants one of those). A PS3 would be even better!! You get the idea. You'll also need an amabassador from your group to be a member of your student government association so that you can formally request funds and have a say in how student activities are ran on campus.

Make sure that you let people know that your club is for everyone, not just for Catholics. Since you also want to incorporate evangelization, let people know that they can come to learn about Catholicism, about why we do what we do. Also, see if you can get a regular column in your school's newspaper, where you can give a Catholic perspective on events in the news or what's happening on campus. Provide opportunities for evangelization. Go speak to the poor, or work in a soup kitchen, or talk to the local third graders, or teach Sunday school. Go out and preach the Gospel!

I know that this is alot to take in all at once. Just take it slow. You can't conquer the world overnight, if at all. If you need anymore help just let me know.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

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