College Campus Ministry

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Making God's Goodness Known - Emmanuel College

As the only Catholic undergraduate institution in Boston proper, Emmanuel College is following the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur's mission of "making God's goodness known," right in the heart of the city. "Students here do a ridiculous amount of service," says campus minister Tony Krzmarzick. In fact, approximately 90% participate in volunteer activities during their time at Emmanuel. The Mission and Ministry office is dedicated to deepening that passion for giving but also to helping students connect it to spirituality. "With how many students we have doing volunteer work, there's a real opportunity to connect service and faith," says Krzmarzick.
 
One new initiative for doing so is the Four-Year Service program, which invites students to commit to volunteering at the same placement once a week during their entire career at Emmanuel. At monthly gatherings, the students engage in a theological reflection model that asks, "How is God revealing God's self to me through this service and the people I'm encountering? How is God also revealing my true self to me through this experience?"
 
Retreats offer another opportunity for reflection, a chance to get students together for an open, honest conversation that fosters a spiritual life. "Like all of us, so many students are just longing to be loved, affirmed, and connected," says Krzmarzick. "They just want an opportunity to talk about important things. That's why I love our retreats." While a day or weekend away provides a sacred time set apart, the work of campus ministry continues afterward in helping students ask, "How do we live in our daily lives what we tapped into on the retreat?"
 
 
Emmanuel's Sunday liturgies invite students to a deeper faith life by meeting them where they are at. Homilies focus on connecting the readings to college life, and the music appeals to a range of tastes, from chant and traditional hymns to contemporary praise and worship songs. The choir and instrumental group engages the talents of a student body that includes clarinet, violin, saxophone, piano, organ, and guitar players.
 
Emmanuel is also facing the same question as many institutions affiliated with religious congregations: as fewer religious sisters are available for roles on campus, how does the college maintain its founding charism? One of Emmanuel's answers is the 1804 Society. This innovative program forms a group of students throughout their college years to be ambassadors for the SND mission. In their first year they study the history and values of the sisters. As sophomores and juniors, they do service at SND sites around the city. In their senior year, members of the 1804 Society do a self-designed project that puts into effect what they have learned about the charism. The popularity and success of the program "has been remarkable," says Krzmarzick. "Now it's even spreading to some SND high schools."
 
At Emmanuel, the Mission and Ministry staff don't have to worry about being the only ones to help the Sisters of Notre Dame carry their spirit forward; the students they form are doing it quite well, too.