Catholic Campus Ministry holds first meeting at Liberty
- Meetings for Liberty’s Catholic Campus Ministry include learning about their faith, playing games and connecting with other Catholics.
- Members hope that the club will continue to grow and receive support from a local Catholic diocese.
More than 20 Liberty University students gathered for the first official Catholic club, the Catholic Campus Ministry, Thursday, Nov. 16, for a time of prayer, fellowship and games.
Most of the students present identified as Roman Catholic, although there were a few Protestant students in attendance as well. The group played trivia revolving around Catholic history and recited Vespers, a Catholic evening prayer, together.
Sofia Frank, the director of advertising for the Catholic Campus Ministry, said that, as a Catholic, she feels like she is a minority in the student body. However, she hopes that the club will be a way to show other Liberty students what Protestant and Catholic Christians have in common.
“I think a lot of people might have certain opinions on Catholicism, which is totally fine, and where you come from affects that,” Frank, a freshman, said. “But I want this to be a chance for other people to see that we still believe in God, and we still worship God.”
For President Kayla Serratore, who has been working to start an official club since fall of 2015, the process of starting an official club has had some hurtles. Initially, Serratore said the group had trouble finding an advisor until Kristie Beitz, senior associate athletics director of Academic Affairs for Athletics, agreed to be the group’s advisor.
After finding an advisor a year ago, the group submitted the paperwork to the Student Government Association to become a club. While waiting for SGA to process the application, Serratore met with Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Mark Hine to discuss the idea of a club.
“They didn’t exactly say it wasn’t going to work, but at the same time, they weren’t that enthusiastic about the idea,” Serratore said. “They definitely saw the options for it.”
This fall, the group refiled the paperwork with SGA and contacted SGA President Caleb Johnson, who “spearheaded” the process for them, according to Serratore. Three weeks before the first meeting, the Catholic Campus Ministry was confirmed as an official club.
“SGA was really great looking into it,” Serratore said. “(Johnson) decided early on in the semester that he wanted this to happen for us, and he made it happen, for which we’re really grateful.”
For students like sophomore Anna Lulis, the Catholic Campus Ministry events coordinator, the club has given her a community of Catholic students that she initially did not think existed.
“I thought I was the only Catholic on campus,” Lulis said. “I would drive to a Catholic church, but no college students were around me.”
Although Liberty is a Baptist school where the majority of students identify as Protestant, Serratore said most students she interacts with are not closed-minded about their faith.
“It is a lot easier than people think it is,” Serratore said. “And we joke about that one person that’s giving us backlash, but for that one person there’s thousands of people we’ve met that didn’t.”
The longer Serratore has been at Liberty, the more Catholic students she has met. Currently, she has over 50 students on the club’s email list, but she said she expects there are more.
“The best way to meet a fellow Catholic is to make the sign of the cross,” Serratore said. “(People) see it, and it’s a key identifier. In classes when a professor prays, before and after prayer we do it.”
Now that the Catholic Campus Ministry can officially meet and advertise themselves as a club, Serratore is hoping the club can grow and access support from the local diocese, a Catholic district overseen by a bishop.
“Most of the other universities in Virginia have a Catholic Campus Ministry with an employed person who helps lead it and work with it,” Serratore said. “And it has its own chapel and a church it works with. I’d like to see (Liberty’s club) on par with (the clubs of) some of the (other) universities in Virginia.”
As the group grows, Serratore said the club will be meeting for social events to discuss topics in the Catholic church and the biblical implications from them. Although most of the students in the group are Catholic, Serratore said a couple of the 50 students on her emailing lists are Protestants interested in learning about the faith.
Serratore said attending Liberty has improved her faith by being in an environment with Christians from a spectrum of denominations.
“Going to other things and learning more about others is going to bolster your own faith,” Serratore said. “It helps you define what you believe. I think that’s really important, especially when we’re young and in college when there’s so many different things that could be impressed upon us.”
For more information about the Catholic Campus Ministry, contact Serratore at firstname.lastname@example.org.