Campus ministry association leader praises St. Andrew student group

CLEMSON—The executive director of the national Catholic Campus Ministry Association praised and challenged students and parishioners at St. Andrew Church during a visit to the Clemson University campus.

Mike St. Pierre shared his “amazement” at the level of ministry activity at Clemson during a Catholic Student Association Dinner held recently at the Madren Center on the university campus.

“I was looking at the campus ministry website here and I counted, just in this month alone, 75 touch-points for ministry,” St. Pierre said, noting that included fall break for students and Thanksgiving holidays.

“75 opportunities for parishioners and college students to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ,” he said. “How amazing is that?” 

Around 100 people heard St. Pierre share the challenges of spreading Christ’s message at the collegiate level, and how they need to appreciate what they have accomplished.

Of the 3,011 four-year colleges in the United States, there are active Catholic campus ministries on only 800, St. Pierre said, and 200 of those are Catholic schools.

Given the current reality in the Church and the secular world, there’s an “urgency” to their work, he said. He challenged those present to serve as Christian role models and share their faith through action. 

“The best way to influence people is to be a great role model, be a great friend, be there for them in their time of need,” St. Pierre said.

St. Pierre cited three examples of vibrant campus ministries that have addressed needs in their communities: The University of Southern California expanded participation among its 9,000 Catholics, St. John’s University strengthened students’ Catholic identity by establishing a support community of fellow students, and the University of Maryland formed an “accountability” group to address issues related to pornography.

“When you have a sense that something is wrong, you do something about it,” St. Pierre said, adding that St. Andrew is obviously doing just that. 

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, the CCMA includes nearly 700 campus ministers in nearly 150 dioceses across the country and the District of Columbia, according to its website. The Diocese of Charleston serves more than 1,200 students, with some type of formal presence on more than 20 campuses, said Jim Grove, diocesan director of campus ministry.

“On many campuses we have faculty and staff who serve as volunteer advisors and mentors for our Catholic groups,” Grove said in an email. The diocese also has seven full-time, professional campus ministers, three of those nationally certified.

James Jolly, a junior at Clemson and a campus ministry intern, shared his faith journey with the dinner crowd and his strong involvement and commitment to St. Andrew, comments that moved Grove, who attended the dinner.

“It well-represented what we believe should occur as students move through their college experience,” Grove said. 

Father Bob Menard, OFM, campus chaplain at St. Andrew, thanked St. Pierre for visiting and sharing his proud encouragement plus beneficial ideas from other campuses.

Miscellany/Terry Cregar: Mike St. Pierre (second from right) talks with attendees at the St. Andrew Dinner on Clemson University’s campus.