By Jessica McKenzie, Asst. Features Editor
In September 2018, Campus Ministry and Social Action (CMSA) welcomed Peer Ministry program onto campus. The program started with the work of Fr. Tom Franks and Kaitlyn von Runnen, a senior at the time. It continues to evolve and grow, encouraging students of any background and any belief to join the group.
Peer Ministry focuses heavily on evoking meaningful and intentional conversations for the students within it, much like the other clubs on campus that the CMSA works with, such as Agape Latte or service immersion social justice L.O.V.E. trips.
“We decided that we needed to grow a space on campus where peers can have these deep conversations in an intimate, safe and brave space, so that they can talk to each other without fear or shame,” said Conor Reidy, who works closely with CMSA at Manhattan as a faculty member.
Peer Ministry holds many events to reach out to the community, especially spiritual excursions. Last semester, Peer Ministry visited Christ Church in Riverdale and walked their labyrinth to think and reflect on their lives. This semester, Peer Ministry is invited to attend a talk at Fordham University with Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest who wrote the book, “Barking to the Choir.”
Peer Ministry has participated in events to help the less fortunate such as the Midnight Run, in which students make sandwiches and bring them to people experiencing homelessness at night.
“It’s really nice when you give food to someone in need. They’re really happy. For me, it’s been great to give back,” said Christina Collado, a sophomore mechanical engineering major.
In addition to being an active member of Peer Ministry, Collado also serves as a sacristan for every Sunday church service on campus.
Peer Ministry at MC is making an effort to follow in the footsteps of the peer ministry program at Providence College, which has hundreds of members on their campus. For each year a student attends the Peer Ministry program during their college career, they focus on different themes and goals. Freshman year encourages socialization, sophomore and junior year encourage spirituality, and senior year focuses on community service.
Though Peer Ministry does include some religious aspects in discussion, students of any or no faith are welcome to join.
“You have to enter these spaces, whether it be as a person of faith and a person who may not be of that faith, open to having conversations that cross boundaries and borders,” Reidy said. “We have conversations about who we are, so that students are respectful and understanding of each other,” Reidy said.
Peer Ministry at MC meets Wednesdays, 12-1:30 p.m. in Cornerstone, Miguel 209. The first meeting is scheduled to be Feb. 12.
“I feel like [Peer Ministry] has a really strong, tight-knit community. It’s a small group but a good one because we all know each other and we’re not afraid to breach the topics that we discuss,” said Jeremy Capuder, a junior computer science major and peer minister of the group.
A Peer Ministry open house is being held Tuesday, Jan. 28, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in Miguel 216, and Wednesday, Jan. 29 from 12-1p.m. in Miguel 209.