By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — Two St. Ambrose University students say that participating in campus ministry has helped them to grow in their faith. They encourage students entering any college/university this month to learn how campus ministry can benefit their academic experience.
Leah Norcross, a St. Ambrose junior from Sacred Heart Parish in Newton, said she didn’t have an opportunity to attend Catholic schools earlier and wanted to attend a Catholic university to grow in and learn more about her faith.
“Staying involved and growing in my faith is very easy at St. Ambrose. There are countless activities and theology classes available to students and I find myself wanting to do them all.”
During the past two years Norcross has been involved in Ambrosians for Peace and Justice, a service group that works to bring awareness to campus about violence, hunger, poverty and other issues. “Additionally, I have taken advantage of opportunities to go on three different service trips with campus ministry. I also participate in Mass by being a eucharistic minister as well as a music minister.
“Ambrose also gives students the opportunity to go to Mass daily, which is a great escape from the stress of classes and exams.”
On Monday evenings she gets together with a group to drink coffee and discuss various theology topics. “It is at these clubs and events that I have met my closest friends here at college. This group of people keeps me grounded and strong in my faith. I have benefited from staying involved in the Church by meeting my closest friends and by growing closer to God.”
Her advice to incoming freshmen: “get involved, take challenging theology courses to learn more about God and about yourself. Go to Mass and surround yourself with faith-filled people.” She also recommends scheduling “some God time to help balance out the stresses of college life.”
Junior Kemper Rusteberg of Park Ridge, Ill., said he wasn’t active in the Church when he was younger. “I would faithfully attend Mass each week with my family, but I never got involved with any youth ministry activities because I went to a public school.
“When I was searching for universities, I knew I wanted to attend a Catholic university because I had missed the experience of growing my faith during high school. I was looking for a place that would make me feel at home; and what better place than the Church?”
The transition from high school to college was a big leap, but he’s grateful he chose a Catholic university and got involved in campus ministry to manage the transition. “I immediately introduced myself to the campus ministry staff and began getting involved. This is an important piece of knowledge for the first-year student to understand. Do not be afraid to get involved and dive into all the university has to offer.
“This is especially true for campus ministry because everyone is super welcoming and willing to share their knowledge to make your experience the best it can possibly be. I have learned so much more about the Catholic faith by being involved in campus ministry at the university,” Rusterberg said.
In college he’s learned more about his faith through service projects, retreats and simply “hanging around friends. I have made many of my best friends through involvement with campus ministry events.”
Even experiences outside of campus ministry have broadened his faith. Last winter he traveled to Israel. “While this study abroad program was offered through the business department rather than campus ministry, the reason I signed up for the trip was due to my thirst for knowledge about my faith.” Next winter he will travel to Italy. “Many students involved in campus ministry have participated in this study abroad program because it is another way of experiencing our faith,” Rusteberg said. “Being involved in campus ministry has helped me develop into the best version of myself.”
Campus ministry opportunities at Iowa, St. Ambrose
Newman Center welcomes Catholics
At the University of Iowa in Iowa City, the Newman Catholic Student Center offers numerous ministerial, educational, social, retreat and service opportunities for students.
Small groups include:
• Student-led Bible studies
• Catholic Athletes
• Knights of Columbus college council
• Theology of the Body
• Professional Ethics
Volunteer opportunities include:
• Free Lunch Program
• Distributing Communion at U of I Hospital
• Service trips
• Teaching religious education classes
• Visiting senior citizens
The center also offers an endowed scholarship and fellowship program.
For more information, visit www.newman-ic.org or call (319) 337-3106.
St. Ambrose rooted in tradition
St. Ambrose University in Davenport’s campus ministry is rooted in the rich Catholic Christian Tradition and ecumenically centered in the reconciling love of God.
The mission of campus ministry at St. Ambrose University is to build a welcoming community of faith, learning and justice by praying and seeking wisdom and committing students’ gifts in leadership and service.
Sunday Masses this school year will be held on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. in Christ the King Chapel. Daily Masses are at noon on Monday and Friday, 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday and 9:15 p.m. on Wednesday with a social afterward.
For more information visit www.sau.edu, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (563) 333-6132.