Appearance on Campus Min Podcast

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It was great fun opening the latest season of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association’s podcast with Dr. Mike St. Pierre. Aside from learning about my childhood fascination with human behavior <wink>, you’ll get a great summary of some of the major items covered in my recent qualitative study of Catholic campus ministers (so if you can’t squeeze in the read, download and enjoy it on your commute!).

USCCB Campus Ministry Report is Out

1 As promised in the last post, you can now read the final version of the national qualitative study of Catholic campus ministers. This study emerged from conversations around the 2017 survey (that report can be found here); we had lots of questions come up at the Notre Dame symposium. Thanks to the research team (I took the role of PI, Dr. Linda Kawentel is co-author and co-PI, and Dr. Brian Starks was also on the team) and the 45 campus ministers we interviewed, we were able to discern some answers as well as suggest some better practices. Our deep thanks to these ministers as well as the USCCB and the Religious Research Association for providing the funding that made this work possible.

The four sections of the report are: 1) Work: Vocation, Joys, and Challenges; 2) Campus Ministry Cultures: Ministering to Students, Relationship with Jesus, Evangelization, and Outreach; 3) Insights for Campuses Using Both Professional and Missionary Campus Ministers; and 4) Preparing Students for Parish Life After Graduation.

Fourth Sunday of Advent Reflection

The University of San Diego graciously invited me to contribute to their annual Advent Calendar and Reflection Series. It has been a personal joy to enter into these reflections for the liturgical season. I will paste my Fourth Sunday reflection below:

For those in the northern hemisphere, yesterday marked the darkest day of the year. And today we enter the fourth Sunday of Advent, when our wreath shines at its brightest.

Light changes things. It allows us to see things we were not able to previously, giving us a fuller picture of our reality.

Looking briefly at our previous Sunday readings, in the first week, we are exhorted to realize the immediacy of Christ’s coming. In the second Sunday, we hear themes of repentance, right relationship and social justice. Last Sunday focused on signs, reversal, and the restoration of what is broken. These are big.

Today’s Gospel presents a bit of a contrast. For nothing is too small for God.

Instead of great social reforms, healing miracles and anticipations of signs, we have a humbler situation. Joseph – like all of us – trying to do the right thing in a complicated situation.

And with – like all of us – incomplete information.

Based upon what he knew, the good, right and merciful thing to do was to quietly divorce Mary. But that evening, under the darkness of night, Joseph’s world was illuminated. In a beautiful contrast to other Sundays’ miraculous healings and great signs, Joseph’s reality did not change. The world he woke up to was exactly the same as the one he went to bed with. Instead, he saw the fullness of his situation, changing the way he understood reality and his place in it.

Which invites us to contemplate in these last days of Advent: What of God’s love, glory and goodness am I failing to see? Where does God already dwell in my world? I am the last to tell you that God is not in the shiny ribbons, family traditions and favorite recipes you might be scrambling to ready. In fact, in the generosity, kindness, love and belonging you’re extending, I know God is there. Let’s take the time to see God’s active presence in all things so that we, like Joseph, might understand our reality in a whole new way.

The Franciscan Tradition and Young Adults

The latest edition of The Way of St. Francis has arrived. And not only does the cover feature one of the fantastic research assistants from my project on Latinx Catholic stewardship (thank you, Tony Luevano!), but it also comes with an article I wrote on the overlap between today’s young adults and the Franciscan tradition, “Shaping Young Adults… and Vice Versa.”

I offer three main insights. The first is on “being,” that both Franciscans and young adults are characterized by “expressive authenticity that seeks belonging.” The second is on “doing,” specifically that both of these groups realize the importance of storytelling as a meaning-making activity. Finally, the heart of young adult ministry should not be guided by a commitment to minister “to” or even “with,” but to joyfully encounter.

You can read more on this 
here.

 

Preview of Catholic Activism Today!

Catholic Activism TodayExcited to give you a sneak peek of my forthcoming book, Catholic Activism Today: Individual Transformation and the Struggle for Social Justice. This book, like all books, is the fruit of many years of research, analysis and writing. and provides the reader with a clear sense of what animates Catholic civic engagement today.

In brief, I argue that American Catholic engagement was previously done through Catholic groups or organizations typically organized at the parish level. Today, Catholics who seek to be civically engaged as Catholics do so through what I call “discipleship groups,” in which they are gathered for spiritual formation and then engage a wide variety of issues as individuals. There are five core values that animate discipleship groups: transformation, Christ-centeredness, community, outreach, and compassion. You can learn more about it on the NYU website.

Hope you find it a fun read in June 2020!

CARA, USCCB and SSSR/RRA

Acronyms abound this week as I write this from Washington, DC! I am spending a few days at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate working on a variety of projects here. I also had a meeting with Barbara McCrabb of the USCCB to talk about the final draft of the national qualitative study of Catholic campus ministry (look for that soon!).

On Thursday I’ll be flying to St. Louis for the joint meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Religious Research Association. There I will present the findings from two projects: 1) Latino Catholic stewardship (funded by Villanova University’s Center for Church Management) and 2) Catholic campus ministers (funded by the USCCB and the RRA).

It is so great to be able to conduct research that will be useful for so many scholars as well as practitioners. Thank you to all those funding sources that make this financially possible!

Book Review on Young Adult American Catholics

1American Catholic Studies just published a favorable review of Young Adult American Catholics thoughtfully written by Dr. Patricia Wittberg, a Research Associate at CARA and a Sister of Charity. Her praise and critique were greatly appreciated. Here is a pull quote:

I would strongly recommend this book to be read, studied, and discussed in every parish and every college campus ministry program in the country.

Thank you, Patricia, for this enthusiastic endorsement!

Wabash Center

I just got back from Crawfordsville, Indiana for the first of my three sessions with the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. The Center really knows how to create a space that is generative for reflection on our pedagogies; I already have lots of ideas for when I get back into the classroom this Spring! I’m looking forward to reuniting with the leaders and my cohort at our January session in Corpus Christi, Texas.

A big thanks to all the staff for all their organizing and hospitality!