Today, I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind for a little while. Before I go any farther, however, I want to clarify two things. The first is that I am the current Campus Ministry vice president and the second is that no, no one, is telling me to write this. I’m doing this by my own volition. That being said, let’s move on.
I had the pleasure this weekend to be talking with some of my fellow students and the subject of Campus Ministry came up. To paraphrase one of these students, she said that Campus Ministry still faces the dangers of cliqueness and that many still see Campus Ministry as clique-y and unwelcoming. In some ways, I don’t think she was wrong. Cliqueness is a danger in all organizations on campus and is certainly a pitfall that we must all guard against. However, it was her second point that I had some questions about: does the average student see Campus Ministry as clique-y and unwelcoming and why?
Let’s back up a little here. When I (yes, yes, we’re talking about my own experience here; in the words of the immortal philosopher and X-Wing pilot Gold Five, I’ll do my best to “stay on target”) came to this school about two years ago, the organization I was most excited to get involved with was Campus Ministry. Believe me, I tried my hardest to get on the “inside” — I worked hard, signed up to help for events, and didn’t have much of a social life outside of the Campus Ministry office. However, despite my best efforts, I was never fully accepted. Most of the student leaders didn’t care for me, and some even took it upon themselves to bully me because of my age and perceived naivete. They made it clear to me that there was a pre-established order to things and that I was never going to amount to anything within the organization. At one point it got so bad that over one of my breaks, I considered not coming back to school entirely. But I did anyway, and I’m glad that I did. Since then, thanks to the efforts of some fantastic individuals and time itself, that “pre-established order” has been rousted. The people who defined Campus Ministry’s once-great cliqueness are gone.
So, you may be asking, what does this have to do with anything? The answer to that lies in the reason why I decided to return to school and continue trying. I realized that the entire mission of Campus Ministry was being stifled by the actions of individuals. The very motto of Campus Ministry, “Radiate Christ,” was not being carried out by some of the students involved with the organization. That is not the message and mission of Christ. But just because a few students acted in this way does not mean that the message of Christ should be abandoned, far from it. Just because a few people were more wrapped up in themselves internally than in focusing outwards toward bringing others the love of Christ does not mean that the organization is per se clique-y, impenetrable, or ineffective. At the end of the day, all that really matters is the people who are involved. If the organization is filled with people who are only worried about themselves, it is doomed to fail. But if the organization is filled with people who take it upon themselves to bring the word of God to others despite what hardships they must face, Campus Ministry can be nothing but successful. That is why I am a bit perplexed with the student’s comment that Campus Ministry still seems unwelcoming and clique-y; for the first time in a long time, I see much hope and promise coming out Campus Ministry, and this change comes unsurprisingly from the people involved.
The Campus Ministry Advisory Board for this year is filled with some of the finest individuals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. The president, Olivia Curcillo, works long and hard hours to ensure that Campus Ministry is the most effective it can be in bringing Christ to others; she sacrifices so much of her own personal life to help others in one of the most Christ-like displays of charity I’ve ever seen. (Olivia doesn’t know I think this about her. Olivia, if you’re reading this, surprise!) Allison Boyd, head of the Leadership Committee, constantly ensures that the Advisory Board is working at peak performance. Kelsey Kierce, in charge of Fellowship and Hospitality, tries charges herself in a special way to bring the message of Christ to more and more people. Kelly Donald and Brigid Sheehan, the heads of Engaging the Wider Student Body and Upperclassmen Outreach respectively, pack a powerful one-two punch in the student community, drawing people closer and closer to the word of God; their efforts are coupled with those of the formidable Brenda Beza, who through her Student Life committee arranges and plans events with other organizations on campus to make sure all feel welcome. Micaela Kowalski and Kelly Frank, our communications liaison and secretary, always make sure that Campus Ministry is being totally transparent and open to the whole Mount community. Under each of these committees are dozens of subcommittees, ranging from Allies to Light of Christ to Men’s and Women’s Fellowship to Kairos, all of which are doing fantastic work and all of which the Campus Ministry Ad Board could not be prouder of. Each of the Advisory Board members realizes the challenges that Campus Ministry has had in the past (and each were, like myself, affected by those challenges) and are working to ensure that we will not repeat the errors of the past.
So my point in all this is thus: if you, you the person reading this article right now, feels that Campus Ministry is still clique-y and unwelcoming, please let me know how and I will do my best to rectify that for you. My email is JMHeil@email.msmary.edu and I am always available. However, if you are just assuming that Campus Ministry is unwelcoming based on experiences you have had with it in past years and have not attended an event this year, I implore you to reconsider. Please trust us. I want nothing more than to ensure that the message of Christ is being brought to all people. Please give me and Campus Ministry a chance.