CMSA Resumes Activity on Campus

By, Carlos Pinto-Corredor, Contributor

After 16 months of virtual classes and personnel turnover, the Campus Ministry and Social Action Suite is ready to welcome back and reconnect the Jasper community this Fall.

Leadership transition occurred amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis with unexpected cuts in personnel. Thelma Collado, former campus ministry office manager, was furloughed due to the financial impact of the pandemic on our campus.

Franks, who continues as an adjunct professor and college chaplain, explained that after the changes in the department and more than a year of hybrid learning, the main goal for CMSA this year is to engage and reconnect students the program again, particularly freshmen and sophomores who haven’t had the opportunity to experience campus life in-person.

“We are trying to reach out and let people know that we are here to be of help for our residents, for our commuters, for everyone to know that CMSA has programming, space, and time to journey with everyone in these great years,” Franks said.

Franks expressed that the department will be working on rekindling and revitalizing the spiritual and sacramental catholic life on campus, embracing the idea of seeking wellness and holiness, while helping
people to connect with the idea of journeying and accompanying one another no matter their religious background or affiliation.

“We are looking for ways to expand our notion and our experience of chaplaincy,” Franks said. “For example, inviting faith leaders either from within our Manhattan community or perhaps seeing who from the outside, can join us. We want to ensure that we are really a ministry in a presence that is seen as interfaith.”

The Campus Ministry and Social Action department also hopes that students will once again participate in their traditional Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experiences, known as “L.O.V.E. Trips,” now that they
will be reopened for the coming winter intersession and spring semester.

Jacquie Martin, the coordinator of the Social Action Suite, expressed that since last year the ideal is to re-establish this immersive service that allows students to address issues like immigration, social justice, poverty, education, civil and human rights, fair trade, gender and sexuality, indigenous peoples, racism and other related topics.

“We are connected to the campus protocols,” Martin said. “This fall the students will be recruited, and they will work in planning and training. In the past, we had the opportunity to visit communities in Chicago, El Paso, Texas, Flint, Michigan and New Orleans, Louisiana. So, we hope to return to serve
in those places.”

Other CMSA programs include their Voter Engagement program. This provides an opportunity for students to get involved in voting and providing educational opportunities to other students in their role as citizens.

Additionally, there are two types of weekly local community engagement activities. Students can participate in both the Lasallian Outreach Collaborative (L.O.Co) programs, which partner student volunteers with local communities and organizations. They can also participate in the Community Engaged Federal Work-Study, which is currently offering paid positions in roles such as, after school tutor, food pantry assistant, education, garden assistant, recreation support, and more. The work can be virtual, hybrid, or in person.

“Volunteers are able to work for non-profit organizations and build relationships with the community,” Martin said. “We are helping students to connect with the organization and the local group that fits their interests.”

Conor Reidy, MC campus minister, is also hopeful about having students back on campus particularly because CMSA expects to relaunch the LIFT and KAIROS Retreat programs in person. Those programs include one-day hiking retreats, overnight retreats dedicated to each class, and three-day retreats to explore your personal relationship with God, yourself, and with others.

Campus Ministry is also providing leadership opportunities for young people to be engaged in justice work across the country. Students can join a group that works with the Lasallian Colleges and Universities in Association for Justice (LCUAJ) to prepare for a collective action around a social justice concern.

“We want our students to connect with students from each of the six Lasallian Universities in the U.S. to learn and to advocate for justice,” Reidy said.

In addition, Agape Latte, a faith-based conversation event, will be held this month as well as the Peer Ministry Program. Peer Ministry is a program that allows students to meet twice a month to have safe conversations among peers about different and personal topics.

“We want to offer opportunities to interact, and we want to facilitate conversations and lead programs that allow [students] to be themselves,” Reidy said. “Come and see us because that is the best way to
get involved.”

The campus ministry office is located at Miguel Hall 209. Students can find the social action center at Kelly Commons 203, and you can connect with them on social media by searching @MC_CMSA on Instagram and Twitter.