How Catholic Students in State Universities Transform Our World

Paul Keggington

September 29, 2011

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sister Mary Ann Spanjers and Sister Julie Ann Sheahan recently witnessed Northern Michigan University St. Michael Parish Catholic Campus Ministry and University of Wisconsin Stevens Point Newman students make steps to transform our World through the intercession of St. Francis and St. Clare. How did this happen and what did those moments of grace look like?

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity were invited for a UW Stevens Point Student Supper to present 'Transforming Our World through the intercession of St. Francis and St. Clare'.

Let’s summarize them this way:

  • Students first shared a meal and conversed with other students. (Yes, they actually sat down and had table conversation!  How different from the normal eating on the run done most of the time in their fast-paced lives!)
  • Not only were the young people nourished by food prepared by other generous, cheerful, stationary parish members- men and women-that offered a homestyle meal, but they were open to contemplate ‘food for thought’. (One couldn’t help but be moved by the witness of adult Catholics who actually enjoyed feeding others. Not to mention, the self-lessness of campus ministers Catherine ‘Cat’ Hardenbergh and Fr. Tom Linders and Wendy Mitch who ever offer invitations to students who desire more faith connections and social outreach.)

Now, transformation was also clearly evident when…

  • Both groups of young Catholics learned about the 800th  anniversary year of St. Clare’s first steps in following St. Francis of Assisi in his Gospel way of life.
  • NMU students after learning about St. Francis walk to Rome for approval of his way of life and St. Clare’s Palm Sunday walk to Our Lady of the Angels in the woods below Assisi to meet Francis and begin her life of religious commitment, walked with lit candles the streets near the campus. The silent pilgrimage encouraged self-reflection on these two saints and the importance of a life of dedication, as well as remembrance of those in need of peace in our world.
  • UWSP students were led in a 3 step action plan of transforming our world adapted on thoughts of Fr. Anthony Gittens: identify, listen, respond. A podcast on our Sisters serving at San Xavier Mission, Tucson, AZ was viewed as a concrete example of how tranforming our world is done often in ordinary life happenings by listening to the Church, the Bible and in the intimacy of one’s heart. A few hours later the group gathered around the Eucharistic table and were sent out as disciples to live their baptism and encounter Jesus one by one in the people they meet each day.

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St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi, pray for us. All you holy angels of God, pray for us.

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