At the heart of Notre Dame Vision is the mission to empower young people to recognize grace at work in their lives and respond to God’s call by offering their gifts in service to the needs of the world. For the past eighteen years, this mission has been carried out each summer through four week-long conferences for high school students and parallel conferences for campus and youth ministers.
Dear high school youth ministers,
Congratulations! Though it has had an ending unlike any other, another successful year is on the books and another amazing group of seniors has been launched from your ministry. While it’s sad to see them go, they’re off to bigger and better things, armed with a wealth of faith and wisdom gained from their youth ministry experiences.
But what is next for them in their life of faith? Will their relationship with Christ and their Catholic faith continue in college and beyond? These are hard but important questions. One Pew study reports that most people who leave the Catholic faith will do so before the age of 24. The same study also states that only 32% of those involved in Catholic youth groups remain Catholic as adults. Like high school, college is a critical time in the faith lives of young people.
Summers were always refreshingly quiet at the Newman Center. Like any college campus, for a few precious months our public university was reduced to the satisfying hum of summer students and a steady stream of high schoolers coming for campus tours and orientation. I met many Catholic students and parents as they stopped by the Newman Center after their campus visit. There are a few of these students I will never forget, but there were also many whom I never saw again. In seven years of Catholic Campus Ministry at a public university, there was no shortage of parents calling us for help with a student who was struggling or who had stopped going to church. While we did what we could for them, their calls echoed the same question I saw in the eyes of my summer visitors: how can I help my child stay Catholic in college?
Dear graduating seniors,
Finally, high school is over and you are FREE!!! Congratulations! Eat some cake. Now, get excited because college is just around the corner!
If you’re anything like I was, you can’t wait to get to college. People told me my college days would be some of the best of my life. It was true! What I didn’t expect, though, was how my faith would change while I was there. For the first time in my life, my parents weren’t blasting me out of bed for church on Sunday, my youth minister wasn’t there to make sense of things, and my best friends weren’t sitting in the pews behind me. It was all up to me.
Editorial Note: This fall, we'll be featuring profiles of people who are or have been part of the Echo program in the McGrath Institute for Church Life. Echo provides students the opportunity to earn a Master's degree from Notre Dame while gaining real-world experience in parish ministry or teaching high school theology, all while receiving robust spiritual and human formation.