Walking up to Eagle Point Park, the excitement of the more than 100 new and returning students was apparent. The air was buzzing with conversation and energy as everyone began greeting friends from the previous year and introducing themselves to new people. This free time at the beginning of the night is important because it allows us to grow – on a basic level, in a community.
As Krissy Juarez and Anna Nielson introduced themselves and the leaders of Campus Ministry – Debbie Gross, Colleen Kuhl, and Stacia McDermott – the buzz of conversation ended, but the electric excitement did not. Juarez and Nielson introduced the amusing games to play in the evening and the community grew as students enjoyed the annual games of “Birdie on a Perch” and “Roaming Pictionary”.
Following the games, the group began to slow down. All participating students were broken into small-groups in which we discussed ice-breaker questions like “If you could be a food what would you be” or “If you could choose any super power, what would you choose?” Small-group members were able to laugh and learn a little bit about one another.
As there is in any welcome night (particularly when it is at the beginning of the year and geared toward first-years) there had to be time set aside for shameless plugs from every sub-organization in Campus Ministry. During this time every organization set up camp, and first-years and transfers were able to walk around and get to know other people in Campus Ministry while simultaneously learning about what each organization does and what each organization stands for.
The night came to a conclusion with praise and worship. A team of singers and instrumentalists got up and led the entire community in song. Praise and worship is beautiful, particularly in this setting, because everyone participates in a form of prayer that presents as much beauty to us as humans, as it does to God. To see various students lifting their hands in prayer and joyful dancing without care is both awesome and contagious. By the final song in the set everyone was singing, dancing, clapping and smiling.
Campus Ministry does many things on our campus, and their effects can be seen in almost every activity that our school hosts. The most important things that Campus Ministry provides though, are hope and community. Campus Ministry provides a place for every student on this campus – Catholic or not – to make friends. Furthermore, Campus Ministry creates a place of hope whether that’s spiritual, or academic, or social. Campus Ministry puts on a welcome night every year to renew those two values in our community and to spread them to a large group. This year, it was a wonderful success.