By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — “Bee-ing” of service to others is an important part of campus ministry at St. Ambrose University, so students will hit the streets for BEEcoming Ambrosian Day on Aug. 20. The university’s association with bees comes from a legend that the father of St. Ambrose found his infant son’s face covered with bees. The father took that as a sign of his son’s future eloquence!
Nicky Gant, the university’s coordinator of service and justice, said BEEcoming day replaces the Urban Plunge. Freshmen will assist 25 nonprofit organizations in the community. “We want to set a tone of community service being a huge part of our collective identity as Ambrosians from the very beginning of their time here,” she said.
Service doesn’t stop there. Gant offers students opportunities to serve each Saturday throughout the year. Catholics and non-Catholics help at a variety of organizations. “I include a faith component of prayer before we serve — doing my best to be inclusive and respectful that all may not feel comfortable participating in prayer. I welcome others to share a prayer from their tradition if they are so moved.”
As freshmen arrive on campus Aug. 19, a blessing and prayer, followed by a cookout kicks off Welcome Week, said Tammy Norcross-Reitzler, director of campus ministry. An outdoor Mass that Sunday, Aug. 21, rounds out the weekend.
Campus ministry will also host a social event for students who arrive early so they can meet campus ministry staff and peer campus ministers. During the second week on campus, the university hosts ClubFest and campus ministry representatives will be present to answer questions about the activities they offer. “We do an online interest survey for students to let us know how they’d like to get involved,” Norcross-Reitzler said.
In September, the BEE Connected New Student Retreat for freshman and transfer students takes place. “This retreat focuses on building relationships and staying connected with God at college” and takes place at Grace Lutheran Camp in DeWitt. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ team will also reach out to Catholic and non-Catholic students.
The campus ministry team is comprised of Norcross-Reitzler, Gant, Father Ross Epping, chaplain; Colin Evers, the new coordinator of music ministry; and Fabian BarthAlonzo, graduate assistant.
Music is “one of the ways students express their faith and a vital part of our liturgies,” Norcross-Reitzler said. “Besides providing music at Mass and university prayer services, Colin will work with students to form a Praise & Worship band. We hope that we’ll be able to have Bees of Praise (BOP) once a month and include opportunities for faculty, staff and students to share their own faith stories.”
Campus ministry also offers Bible studies, Tuesday night Mass at 9:15 p.m., weekend Masses, spring service trips and other events. For more information about St. Ambrose University Campus Ministry, visit its webpage (sau.edu/student-life/campus-ministry).