Students at Le Moyne College, the only Catholic college in the Syracuse Diocese, will not return to campus and the college has moved courses online for the rest of the semester.
“It saddens me to the core that we have come to this decision, and I can only imagine how heartbreaking this is for all of you, especially our seniors,” Le Moyne President Linda LeMura said Tuesday morning in an announcement. “It’s a difficult decision but one I know in my heart is the right one.”
Le Moyne had previously extended spring break and planned to teach online until at least March 27. The college and its chaplain’s office are “looking for ways to support students remotely just to stay in touch and let them know we’re still here, that we’re eager for them to return,” said Thomas Andino, director of Campus Ministry.
Catholic chaplains at other colleges in the Syracuse Diocese are also adjusting their ministry as the novel coronavirus closes campuses and puts classes online at least temporarily.
“It’s a quandary and we’re praying,” Sister Rose Casaleno, CSJ, director of Campus Ministry at SUNY Binghamton said last week. “It’s hard to predict what will be in a month.”
SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Morrisville, and SUNY Oswego are sending students home and moving courses online for the rest of the semester following a March 11 order from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“I know on the Oswego campus and other campuses many are stunned and shocked by the uncertainty,” Michael Huynh, director of Campus Ministry at SUNY Oswego, said in an email. “We are in uncharted waters ourselves in campus ministry but recognize as a people of hope we need to trust and journey through this together. The last few days have been spent listening to folks and being present to them.”
Some students are expected to remain on campuses or in college towns. Others, including international students, may need special assistance.
“I’m sure God is calling us to serve in a new capacity in light of this situation,” Huynh said.
In addition to Mass, the coronavirus is affecting mission trips. Six Syracuse University students will miss out on a trip to Nazareth Farm, a Catholic service and retreat center in West Virginia. The university announced March 16 that students would not return to campus this semester.
Franciscan Father Gerry Waterman, the university’s Catholic chaplain, is likely to stream Masses online. “If I’m not providing service, I’m going virtual,” he said. “Students are living virtual lives anyway.”
Colgate University in Hamilton will offer online courses through April 19. “I will always remain available for 1:1 counseling/spiritual direction and other conversations, but these conversations will now happen online or by phone,” Deacon Mark Shiner, chaplain and Catholic Campus Minister at Colgate told students in an email survey. “You can always email me or text me directly if you want to talk. I remain, as always enthusiastic about hearing from you and traveling alongside you in your life of faith.”