What’s In a Name?

Stacia McDermott: for The Lorian

Apparently there is a lot in a name. The staff in Spiritual Life have been pleasantly surprised by all the buzz around the subtle (or what we thought was subtle) shift between Campus Ministry and Spiritual Life. People talking means people are engaged — yahoo!

We’ve been hearing lots of theories and perspectives about the name change, from people being happy that it sounds more inclusive to people being worried that we are watering down our Catholicism.

What students may not know is that for the last 15 years, we have been the Spiritual Life Division. The Division has included Campus Ministry, The Fr. Ray Herman Peace and Justice Center, and all things associated with liturgy and worship. When hearing Campus Ministry, it seems to elicit ideas around a space (our main office in the ACC), partaking in one of the student organizations connected to Campus Ministry, or serving in a liturgical ministry. We often encountered people asking if they could get involved in Campus Ministry or hang out in 460 ACC if they weren’t Catholic (which we answered with a resounding, YES!).

The reality, though, is Campus Ministry is not just a place, a student organization, or a particular ministry. Our Catholic identity is an intrinsic part of this beloved institution, not an add-on. It is because of our Catholic identity, not in spite of it, that we (Spiritual Life staff and all employees of the college) are called to walk with students, wherever they are on their spiritual journey. We believe that dropping the Campus Ministry identifier more clearly to what we are about. As it so beautifully states in our Catholic identity statement (abbreviated here):

Loras College is a Catholic, diocesan college explicitly oriented to promote service of both church and world through encouraging all members of the community in development of their “diverse professional, social and religious roles.” The college strives to be a community demonstrating the highest standards of the Catholic intellectual tradition and welcoming all people into a dialogue to promote core values of truth, respect, responsibility, excellence and service.

-We promote an open atmosphere.
-We reverence the spirituality of each person.
-We recognize the importance of personal and communal worship.
-We welcome the responsibility to serve.
-We advocate respect for diversity.

(To read the Catholic identity statement in its entirety, please visit the Loras website).

Our goal in the Spiritual Life Division is to help realize the spiritual potential of all persons.

Whether you take away from this article that the name change was just a name simplifier (which in part it was), or if you see it as a way to communicate the college’s intrinsic Catholic nature — which reaches out to all people, regardless of religious or nonreligious identity — the answer is that it is BOTH, AND.  Always know that we who work in the Spiritual Life Division are so blessed and grateful for the opportunity to accompany students during this exciting time of self-discovery. Thank you for letting us walk with you.

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