Former UBC student Mark Kulchar prepares at a campus ministry BBQ during Catholic Students Week.

Catholic chaplaincies prepare for FROSH week

  • September 4, 2011

To counter the partying that goes hand-in-hand with FROSH week at post-secondary institutions, campus chaplaincies offer students something a little different.

At King's University College at the University of Western Ontario, the campus chaplaincy will be holding a prayer service to welcome students back to school.

"It's a prayer service instead of Mass because we want it to be inclusive for all our students who may not be Catholic," said campus minister Sr. Susan Glaab.

The service will involve some quiet reflection, some Taizé prayer, singing and sharing in small groups, said Glaab.

Campus chaplaincy will also be there on Labour Day as an unofficial welcoming committee, as the students move into residence, to answer any last-minute questions and offer support to both students and parents, she said. Glaab said it's important for campus chaplaincies to hold FROSH events — particularly when they're affiliated with a larger university — so students know there's a place they can go on campus for support, space and some much-needed quiet.

"It's very important because during FROSH week they're just bombarded with everything and, for a lot of students, that can be an overwhelming experience," said Glaab. "Some adapt to it right away but others need more balance in their lives… so we're there to offer that and promote our Catholicity."

At the University of British Columbia, Catholic groups on campus will have booths set up at the campus-wide university fair on the first day back at school. Among these will be the Newman Club which will be baking fortune cookies, said Maureen Wicken, campus ministry co-ordinator at St. Mark's College, one of the five theological colleges affiliated with UBC.

"What they've done is they've got different quotes from saints and quotes from Scripture and they'll be inserting those into fortune cookies," said Wicken.

At St. Mark's College, there will be two "Welcome Back" Sundays — one of which will include, along with Mass, the St. Mark's and Corpus Christi Council of the Knights of Columbus holding a pancake breakfast on Sept. 11.

As well, the "chaplains in res" initiative sends chaplains to the the three main undergraduate residences to engage students.

"We're engaging students in what is a chaplain, what is spiritual care, asking them if they need any spiritual care… And we frequently meet people who are looking for a Catholic Church."

Toronto's Ryerson University Catholic Students Association (CSA) will be joining other campus groups for the annual "campus caravan" on Sept. 7. In order to interest students, they'll be giving passersby rosaries and prayer cards and doing its best to increase membership, said Jason Spanton, director of communication for the CSA.

"It's important to have a Catholic presence on campus," said Spanton.  

"At Ryerson, there's not a lot of faith on campus… And we can't forget God, especially in the educated circles. We have to remember God and maintain a relationship with our faith."

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