University of St. Michael’s College chaplain Angelo Minardi is hoping to enhance the relationship between the school and St. Basil’s parish that is located on campus. Photo by Evan Boudreau

University, parish set to embrace

  • October 24, 2015

TORONTO - Angelo Minardi aims to help students at the University of St. Michael’s College find a sense of community within St. Basil’s parish.

The downtown Toronto parish, located at the east end of the St. Michael’s campus, will do this for students by offering them a multi-generational community to be embraced by, said Minardi, the school’s new director of campus ministry.

“It is important that we build that community somehow so that when students come to campus, whether they commute or stay in residence, that they feel that it is a home away from home,” he said. “You create that by spending time with people.”

Not only does St. Basil’s offer students a place to be surrounded by like-minded people, it also gives them an opportunity to explore potentially untapped gifts such as singing in the choir, public speaking as lectors during Mass and as altar servers.

“One of the mandates of our campus ministry is the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church,” said Minardi. “We can truly integrate the students into the life of the Church. Many young people have gifts which for whatever reason they don’t always tap into .... (and) St. Basil’s can play a vital role in uncovering those.

“The issues of young people are pretty much the same in that they have a sense of wanting to belong in a community,” said Minardi. “There is just a yearning to be part of something bigger. The Church plays a vital role in this.”

Pastor Fr. Chis Valka said his parishioners are ready for the influx of students.

“Historically St. Basil’s has been very much a parish of the community but it was not engaged in the way we are hoping to be engaged now with the campus,” said the Basilian priest. “The parish is going to be a warm and hospitable place for students.”

Although the desire to belong is as old as organized religion, Valka said the nature of student life can easily distract one from the importance of community.

“Being a student in a sense is a very selfish time because you are investing in yourself,” he said. “If we are not careful we forget why community is so important because it becomes all about us.”

And one of the best ways to remind students about the value of coming together is to remind them constantly that they belong to a community by ministering to them.

“It is integral for my ministry to be present and to let them know that they are part of a community” said Minardi. “It’s about being present in the good and the bad and walking with them.”

Beyond encouraging students to participate in the day-to-day life of the parish, Minardi said he will have as many campus activities as possible “lead us back to the Church.”

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