Oriana Bertucci is the Director of Ryerson Catholic Campus Ministry. Below she shares what campus ministries offer to students in the Archdiocese of Toronto.
University campuses represent the fertile landscape of our society, nurturing culture and giving root to our future world leaders. This is where research and technology develop and emergent ideas flourish. And today, it's a place in desperate need of the life-giving water of the Gospel message.
In the past 30 years, undergraduate enrollment in Canadian universities has nearly doubled. Institutions continue to expand access to higher education, enhance the quality of education through interactive learning experiences and explore untapped segments of national and international students.
While teams of administrative staff work to provide intellectual resources for more and more students, the need to reinforce social and moral values in our students cannot be forgotten.
Over the past decade, the Archdiocese of Toronto has expanded its efforts to ensure the Good News is present on university campuses in the GTA. Currently, six campus ministries are partially or fully funded by the archdiocese: Ryerson University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, University of Toronto – Mississauga, University of Toronto – Scarborough, University of Toronto – St. George and York University.
These campus ministries are busy sources of faith, fun and fellowship. Here are six things students find when they explore campus ministry:
1. We do church…and sports, and art, and video games. We go to Mass, we pray together and we challenge each other to lead holy and faithful lives as daughters and sons of Christ. But we also seek to develop the athletic, cultural and artistic aspects of our students.
2. The Five Ws: Who? What? Where? When? Why?
We ask more questions than Jeopardy! Campus ministry is a place of ideas and discussion. We're in the business of asking the big questions: Who am I? What should my priorities be? Where am I going in life? We want students to ask the tough yet important questions about religion, politics, ethics and society. We're not here to assign a grade; we're here to journey with them.
3. A Campus Ministry Melting Pot
Campus ministry offers the opportunity to meet people from every academic discipline, diverse nationalities and cultural backgrounds. Learning from others' experiences and knowledge can help students grow in ways they might not expect, complementing their classroom experience. We also offer opportunities to get involved in the community, on campus and in the archdiocese. We believe in getting to know our neighbours and sharing our gifts and talents with those around us.
4. Been there, done that!
Campus ministers and missionaries have been in students' shoes. We survived first year Micro-Economics and fell asleep in fourth year Philosophy. We've lived with nocturnal roommates and found friends that we actually wanted to live with for more than a month. We've changed our majors and tweaked our resumes more times that we've updated our iPhones. The best part is that we loved our college and university experience so much that we decided to make it our life's work! We've been in those shoes and we're here to support students through whatever comes their way. Trust us…a Tim Horton's donut and a nap can solve just about anything.
5. Food. Food. Food.
There are always snacks around. What better way to meet new people or to explore the role of faith in politics by sharing carrots and celery or chocolate chip cookies? It seems there's an unwritten rule that states that all campus ministries must have a pot of coffee brewing 24/7. Hungry students and campus ministry go together like peanut butter and jelly.
6. A home away from home.
Whether they are commuting from home or living in residence, students are probably going to spend more time on campus and in classes than at home during their post-secondary career. Campus ministry offers students a place to rest in between classes or when the library is full. It's an opportunity to connect with people who have shared interests and values. It's a safe place to explore new ideas, understand how lessons from the classroom apply to the real world and make lifelong friends.
The archdiocesan commitment to campus ministry challenges a society that defines success with dollar signs and titles. We want students to define success through their holiness and their relationship with Jesus. Post-secondary education isn't just about higher education; it's about a higher calling.
 AUCC Trends in Higher Education: Volume 1- Enrolment 2011