Campus Radicals

A priest in the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, kindly passed on the following message from Brian Flanagan, president of the Catholic Student Association at Rutgers University:

Our ministry is centered on relational evangelization. Through building genuine friendships with the students we meet, we make them a part of our community, and they are brought to radical conversion to Jesus Christ. This conversion is mainly characterized by a profound understanding of and love for Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. I have been incredibly blessed to serve as the President of CSA over the past year, and I look forward with excitement to living the rest of my life grounded in the Lord, my hear forever transformed in Jesus Christ.”

My involvement with the Catholic Campus Ministry at Rutgers University has without a doubt been the highlight of my college career. As a freshman living in the dorms, I was surrounded by a “culture of death,” seeing the majority of my friends get involved in excessive drinking and promiscuity, and if it had not been for the Catholic Student Association (CSA) reaching out to me, my college life would have almost certainly been rooted in this same culture of death.

I was born and raised Catholic, but growing up I would only go through the motions, clocking in my hour with God on Sunday, and living the rest of my week without Him. Early on in my freshman year, however, I met several students and chaplains from the ministry who convinced me to come on the CSA Fall Retreat. That weekend completely changed my life; I met about a hundred other students who had a real passion for their faith, and I encountered the Lord in such a way that since that weekend my heart has been set on fire for the Lord and for furthering His Kingdom.

Our ministry is centered on relational evangelization. Through building genuine friendships with the students we meet, we make them a part of our community, and they are brought to radical conversion to Jesus Christ. This conversion is mainly characterized by a profound understanding of and love for Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. I have been incredibly blessed to serve as the President of CSA over the past year, and I look forward with excitement to living the rest of my life grounded in the Lord, my hear forever transformed in Jesus Christ.”

Mr. Flanagan’s testimony brings to mind the fact that the Catholic Center at Rutgers exemplifies the growing vibrancy similar centers in other non-denominational colleges and universities exhibit. For those of us who attended these schools a generation ago, this trend is a great sign of hope for certainly programs “grounded in the Lord” 30 years ago would have provoked mockery.(‘Radical conversion’ in those days connoted something very different).

At Rutgers, the Center openly provides and promotes an array of programs and activities for Catholic and non-Catholic students seeking answers, fellowship and deeper meaning in life. These include retreats, Bible study, social and service oriented events, “Spirit Nite” with topical discussions and camaraderie, and – especially impressive –training in liturgical ministry where students learn to serve at Mass as lectors, Eucharistic ministers, cantors, instrumentalists and altar servers.

Rutgers was founded in 1766 as Queen’s College and was originally affiliated with the Dutch Reformed Church for which it trained divinity students and ministers. Its history since then has not been without incident; however, it is today the largest institution for higher education in New Jersey and offers the Catholic Center a rich and varied field in which to build its community.

One likes to think that those early religious trustees of Queen’s College are pleased that what is now such a respected state university permits and encompasses such “Christocentric” awareness.

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3 Comments

  1. It is wonderful to hear stories like this one. It gives hope to our Church!

  2. It is very interesting to read stories like this. If we always listen to the words of the Lord and live in it, His grace is endless burning you like a fire. Even in the time you become powerless that is the time you become stronged because you live not of your own but in Christ Jesus..

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