Newman Communities offer pastoral service and ministry
By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer
As the only chaplain on campus at Morrisville State College in Madison County, Deacon Steve Young ministers to a diverse student body that numbers more than 3,500. “There are quite a few international students here and there’s a wide variety of religions and faiths,” said DeaconYoung. He’s been there for the last 10 years and graduated from the school in 1980.
Deacon Young also ministers to a group of 250-350 students who belong to the Newman Club.
Deacon Young helps the students to “make their faith their own,” as he put it.
“It’s a big time of discovery for them,” said Deacon Young. “Young adults are a unique population. They are away from home so they don’t have the restraints they would normally have — there’s no one to remind them about things.”
The Newman Center offers Sunday Mass in the Community Room at the college or a prayer service when a priest is not available. Deacon Young said that between 20 to 50 students attend the worship services. “It’s a great fellowship,” said Deacon Young.
Because Deacon Young only ministers 12 hours per week at Morrisville, he is especially grateful for the assistance of Amanda Klish, a campus minister at Morrisville. Klish was commissioned one year ago and serves 10 hours per week. “She’s awesome,” said Deacon Young. “She takes over when I’m not there. She helps me with the readings for the week and with the community service projects.”
Deacon Young is also thankful for the contribution from the diocesan HOPE Appeal. “It’s money well-spent,” said Deacon Young.
The Newman students at Morrisville are actively involved in the surrounding community through a number of service projects.
“I use a very positive approach to keep the students involved and engaged. I remind them about how important it is to serve others,” said Deacon Young.
The students not only volunteer at the Crouse Nursing Home nearby, but also work with the Community Action Outreach Center in Morrisville, attending to the needs of the poor. The Newman students also participate in a Christmas Giving program for the needy in Madison County. In addition, the students assist St. Joan of Arc Church in Morrisville with the preparation of Thanksgiving baskets and set up the parish’s Christmas tree. “It’s great to see that kind of faith in the community,” said Deacon Young.
Deacon Young has also served as chaplain at Cazenovia College for the last 15 years. “The students, faculty and staff at Cazenovia have been extremely supportive and generous,” said Deacon Young. “Last year we did 21 social justice projects. Over 200 students, as members of the Newman Club, are involved in the projects and the biggest group of students are the juniors and seniors.”
The community outreach projects include packing and distributing Thanksgiving baskets to the needy in the area; donating hats, gloves and mittens to migrant children in Georgetown; preparing Christmas baskets for the needy in Madison County; sending CARE packages to those in the military and visiting the nursing home in Morrisville. In addition, the students prepare and distribute Christmas cookies to the fire, ambulance and police personnel in the area, provide lawn care to the elderly and take part in the “stream-side cleanup” at Chittenango Creek each year.
The Newman Club meets once a week to plan service projects, events, RCIA training and retreats.
Deacon Young said that over the years, he’s noticed that many more students are coming to him un-churched or with no faith tradition. “Half of the kids who go to the Newman Center are non-Catholic,” said Deacon Young.
“ A great part of my ministry has been to be included in the lives of my former students who are now in their 30s. Now, I’m doing their weddings and baptisms,” he added.
Father John Croghan, pastor at St. Mary’s Church in Clinton, has served as Newman Chaplain for the Roman Catholic community at Hamilton College in Clinton since 1982. With a student body of 1,800, approximately one-third of the population has some commitment to the Catholic Church. “It’s been a very good experience,” said Father Croghan. “It’s a unique ministry within the church that I enjoy a lot.”
Father Croghan said that the goal of the Newman Program at Hamilton College is to form a Catholic community and to be a Catholic presence at the college. “Our objective is to make the faith a lived experience for the significant number of Catholics who attend Hamilton and thus provide the crucial bridge between a child’s faith and that of an adult Catholic.”
At Hamilton College, the Catholic Church’s presence is felt spiritually — through the sacramental life of the Newman Community (weekday and weekend liturgies, spiritual counseling, a parish-like community atmosphere which is aimed at the college-aged Catholic and retreats), socially (through the students’ interaction with each other in a Christian atmosphere (dinners, after-Mass gatherings and off-campus events), and apostolic (through community outreach).
At least weekly, the Newman Council, consisting of 10-20 members, meets to plan events and activities.
The community outreach projects the students participate in include the Trust Treat Night (students bring children from Utica to the Hamilton campus for trick or treating on Halloween) and serving meals at Hope House, a shelter in inner-city Utica that provides meals for the hungry and homeless.
“This program directly addressed the diocesan priority of ministering to the youth of the diocese,” said Father Croghan.