Staff and students benefit from unique campus ministry
With most students and staff now working off campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Catholic University (ACU) campus ministry teams for North Sydney and Strathfield have gone online with creative ways to care for the pastoral and spiritual needs of staff and students.
Launching a new campus ministry website, ACU’s vice president Father Anthony Casamento csma said it meant that staff can provide on-going care for the university community.
ACU Campus Ministry Manager, Brother Michael Callinan fms said he hoped it would draw interest from students and staff members who had never engaged with campus ministry before.
Online activities for staff have included silent meditations, individual pastoral conversations and referral to other professionals, staff virtual tea and coffee breaks, national staff afternoon teas and reflection groups.
Student activities have included the first ‘Encounter Live’ event, which saw more than 80 young people from all ACU Campuses across Australia join in via the campus ministry Facebook page for online social games, reflections, and prayer time including virtual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Other programs have included faith discussion groups, conversations about wellbeing and resilience, mentoring and development of student evangelising teams, ‘Ask a priest’ sessions, talks, study sessions and games.
ACU Strathfield Campus Pastoral Associate for Staff, Ann O’Connor, said the initiative has been “a blessing”. “I think that in a time of crisis such as this, we can catch more than a glimpse of God at work through the presence of campus ministry,” she said.
ACU North Sydney Campus Pastoral Associate for Students, John Nguyen, said it had been “a beautiful experience seeing students being open with each other and their willingness to not let the self-isolation get the best of them by joining us in the virtual spaces we provide”.
The university’s Associate Director of Identity & Mission, Mark Lysaght, said that while “the spirit of the age is busyness and driven-ness and we don’t want to replicate that to an online environment”.
“What we want to make sure is that we are reminded of the saving and loving grace of God in a moment such as this.”