Is your parish sending members off to college this fall?
Show your young adults that their community is still with them in spirit! Consider some of the following ideas to support and encourage your college students throughout the year.
Before they leave:
- Consider a blessing during Mass and incorporating them into your general intercessions. (A blessing may be found in the Book of Blessings on page 227, The Order for the Blessing of Students and Teachers.)
- Help them find a Catholic community on their campus – most are listed on the college websites under “student organizations” or campus ministry. If they are going to a college in the Diocese of Camden have them check out the campus ministry page. It has all of the contacts listed with email addresses and telephone numbers. If they are going to school outside the Diocese of Camden visit the website of the diocese where their school is located and see if they have any campuses listed. If you are having problems finding contacts, the office can help you. Contact Gregory Coogan.
- Have the students find out when they will be back at the end of the fall semester. Academic calendars are accessible on college websites. How about inviting those trained and involved to be a lector, Eucharisitic minister or part of other liturgical ministries for their time back?
- Connect each college student with a member of your parish council, choir, youth group or any volunteers who would like to keep in touch over the semester.
- Provide a copy of Your Life at College – 10 Suggestions for Living Your Catholic Faith While In College to your young adults who are entering college.
- Find out school or other email addresses (or other social media outlets) that the college students plan to check while away. If they have the information, find out their US postal address too!
- Try linking or purchasing The Freshman Survival Guide for those entering college. It’s a helpful tool for the transition.
While they are away:
- Pray for them regularly, both as a community and as individuals.
- Check in with them during the first two weeks on campus this time is often the most difficult.
- Have volunteers send them prayers and blessings by email, Facebook message or text. You might also send bulletins, event information, etc. so that they know what’s happening back home.
- Ask them to send information on what’s happening at their college – you never know when a great idea might pop up that would translate to the parish. (ie. There was a student at the university that I worked who engaged her home parish to help collect new socks and underwear for the poor that she served during an Alternative Spring Break trip. She brought 3 large boxes of supplies to the hosting site.)
- Consider sending a care package with snacks and goodies during midterms or finals (with a note of encouragement too). This could be a service project for a youth ministry – and helps the teens see that they commmunity will support them while they are away too!
- When they come home on break:
- Host welcome back activities or blessings around Thanksgiving, Christmas or spring or summer breaks (you would know by their academic schedule when they would come home.
- Recognize them at Mass and invite them to a coffee hour or sundae social to welcome them home.
- Invite them to speak with the youth of your parish about what it’s like to be a Catholic on campus.
- Ask them to speak with the parish council or relevant committees about ideas and events happening at the campus that might transfer to the parish.
- Ove rthe summer offer opportunities to connect college studnets from your parish with each other.
God of Beginnings,
We ask your blessing on all those graduationg this year as they prepare to move on to a new beginning in their lives.
Help them to rejoice in the hard work that has brough them to this point, and keep them safe as they celebrate their accomplishments.
Loving God, guide these graduates on the journey that lay ahead of them as they prepare to encounter new and exciting opportunities.
Bless these graduates with humility in times of success, and strength in times of challenge.
Help them to remember all those in their lives that have supported and cared for them. May these graduates always know that they are truly loved and cherised.
Empower them to go forth and continue the work of your Son, Jesus Christ. We pray that they will truly be a light of justice and compassion in the world.
We give thanks for the gift that each one of these graduates is to our community, and we rejoice in knowing that they will be a blessing to all those they encounter on their life’s journey.
It is in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ that we pray.