Podcast 37 with Emily Hitchens of Butler University

This week we sat down with Emily Hitchens of Butler University Catholic campus ministry center.  Emily, besides being a sub on her local dodgeball team, does a great job in leading students from Butler to Christ.  

Enjoy the podcast!






7 Clever Things You Can do Over the Summer

Summer is finally here!  It's the time of year for both educators and campus ministers to take stock of the year gone by and do some clever things in order to recharge.  

There's just one catch- with over a month of summer weeks, it can be easy to not use the time wisely.  The best of intentions can slide away and then Fall arrives and we're left with some level of regret.

Here are seven things you can do this summer that might yield significant results:

  1. Clean your office.  Clutter can pile up during the year.  Take a morning, dress casually and go to it.
  2. Go on a personal retreat.  This can be a formal retreat that you pay for or a day at the beach.  
  3. Change your work schedule.  Can you work longer from Monday-Thursday and then take off Fridays?  Can you come in later one day as a means of "changing things up" over the summer?
  4. Revisit your strategic plan.  Be honest- how often did you touch the plan during the year?  Why not use summer to reconnect and recommit to its objectives and goals?
  5. Decide on one thing in your ministry that you can stop doing.  We all want to be doing more and reaching more students.  Summer is the right time to cross one activity off your list.  If it didn't work that well, drop it.
  6. Read two great spiritual books.  Which book have you been wanting to read?  Head over to Amazon and pick up a copy.  Enjoy it.  Savor the moments of quiet reading.  As Merton once said, "Reading is an act of humility."
  7. Go on a vacation, even if it's a brief one.  Even short vacations have value.  Where can you go?  What can you do to recharge your batteries?

I bet you could add another seven actions you could take to unplug and be renewed this summer.  For me, I hope to begin bird watching (cue the teasing) and also get some time away with my wife and kids.  

Podcast 36 with Matt Faley of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Wonder what dioceses and archdioceses do to support campus ministry?  In this episode of the CCMA Leadership Podcast, we talk with Matt Faley of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.  Matt is one of the leading voices when it comes to the alignment of a diocese with its campuses.  

Matt and I chat about work-life balance, how he prays with his team and how Indiana is such a special place to minister and serve.

For more about Matt and his work, visit his website.

This week's cast is sponsored by Vera Cruz Advisory, for which we are extremely grateful.

Would You Like to Guest Blog for CCMA?

If you are an author or aspiring blogger, CCMA would love your help!  As of July 1, we will be publishing guest blog posts from campus ministers around the country.  

Guest posting has several benefits:

  • A way to flex your writing muscle
  • A way to connect with other campus ministers
  • A way to add to your resume
  • A way to clarify your thoughts

If you are interested, email Mike St. Pierre and begin the conversation: stpierre@ccmanet.org.


A Clever Way to Engage Students in Discussions of Faith


I visited this past week with campus ministers from the Chicago area.  With deep gratitude to Mark Laboe of DePaul University who coordinated the trip, we enjoyed talking about what's happening on campuses around the country.  

DePaul has found a very unique way to engage students in discussions of faith and vocational discernment.  By using the "discussion wheel" and giving out some sweet t-shirts, their team has found a simple way to start discussions.  They put the wheel in a public place and simply invite students to take a spin and then chat for a few minutes.  Some free stickers help to sweeten the deal and the conversation gets rolling.

According to Mark, this clever tool (the wheel and accompanying conversations) has provided some of the richest conversations of the year.  Best yet, the chats are often quite deep, proving interior motivations and future aspirations as they connect with the faith.

Podcast 35 with Fr. Frank Donio, S.A.C. from the Catholic Apostolate Center

How do you expand your team?

How do you use technology to enhance your relationships?

How do you promote civil discourse online?

These questions and more were discussed in Episode 35 of the CCMA Leadership Podcast with Fr. Frank Donio, S.A.C.  Fr. Frank is the Director of the Catholic Apostolate Center. Fr. Frank's team is leading the way when it comes to utilizing technology for the purposes of evangelization, communication and teamwork.

For more information about Fr. Frank, www.catholicapostolatecenter.org/director.html

For the many resources and tools offered by the CAC:  www.catholicapostolatecenter.org/resources.html

Reaching Catholic High School Students

St. John's University in New York City has figured out a way to reach out to Catholic high schoolers such that they end up enrolling at St. John's.

I had the pleasure of visiting with the ministry team from St. John's at their Queens campus this past week.  In addition to finding out about their approach to campus ministry through a Vincentian lens, I discovered what they call the Catholic Scholars Program.

The Catholic Scholars Program was designed to build "Catholic student density" on campus among its other objectives.  This is always a balancing act as universities welcome students from all walks of life.  With that said, Catholic colleges also desire to recruit enough practicing Catholic students such that the Catholic identity of the institution is maintained.

Director Jimmy Walters, Ed.D., described the program as a four-year experience for a select group of undergrads who demonstrate a strong faith, a desire to serve and an intention to become leaders.  Each is selected by the college, receives a partial scholarship, and lives and learns among a cohort of like-minded students.  There is a theology component, a service element and even a pastoral assignment in their junior year.  The Program is one example of how to transition students from high school to your campus. 

You may want to emulate parts or even all of the Scholars Program as it has been designed at St. John's.  Or, you may want to create one of your own, connecting Catholic high school students to life on your campus.

What are some qualities of effective transition steps from high school to college?  They may include:

  • Building relationships with 10-15 key Catholic schools in your area, encouraging them to consider your school
  • Getting high school students on campus for retreats
  • Inviting Catholic high school students for faith-related speakers
  • Inviting Catholic high school students for a "meet and greet" with a Catholic coach and her/his captains
  • Bringing college students into Catholic high schools for unique programs, mentoring opportunities or retreats
  • Hosting an annual gathering of local Catholic youth ministries for a rally or special Mass
  • Working with your local Diocesan Catholic youth ministry coordinator for opportunities to get local Catholic students onto campus
  • Identifying one person on your staff who is focused on Catholic students and their journey from high school to college
  • Creating a full-fledged program as St. John's has done 

Increasing enrollment will never go out of style for colleges.  As campus ministers, we can help our institutions be more thoughtful about how to attract more Catholic students.  


Podcast 34 with Friar Mario Serrano, OFM, Conv.

In Episode 34 we talk with Friar Mario Serrano, OFM, Conv., Pastoral Associate for University Ministry at Indiana State University. Friar Mario discusses the role that transition plays in campus ministry and what he hopes his students learn about St. Francis.

Friar Mario is the kind of person that you really want to talk to for hours- his students are fortunate to have him and to learn of St. Francis through him.

Visit the St. Joseph homepage to learn more about Friar Mario's team.

Your Next Ministry Position Can Benefit from a Beautiful Resume

I was listening to Thom Ranier's Leadership Podcast this past week and he spoke of the do's and don'ts of ministry resumes.  You can listen to it here.

This got me thinking about CCMA and why our Job Bank is the 2nd most popular page on our website.  Folks are either seriously looking for new positions or just keeping an eye on the market. 

Whatever the case, it's a good time to polish up your resume.  Is it up to date?  Are your references prepared in the event of a call?  Do you need to update your title?  These questions and many more are worth an afternoon of your time, whether you're looking for a new position or you love where you are.

Visit the CCMA Job Bank Today

Podcast 33 with Matt Zerrusen of the Newman Connection

Each campus knows how difficult it is to find incoming students and then invite them, in a systematic manner, into Catholic campus ministry.  

In Episode 33 of the CCMA Leadership Podcast, I chat with Matt Zerrusen of the Newman Connection.  Note that Matt's organization is different from the Cardinal Newman Society which has a different mission and focus.

The Newman Connection and their thorough website provides the single best database for students to find either Catholic Centers or Newman Centers around the country.  Additionally, Matt and his team provide countless colleges with the contact information for incoming freshmen.  That's a very valuable resource!

Matt also announced a new project of the Newman Connection called The Upper Room, an operating system for Catholic campus ministries.  I can't wait to see how campuses use The Upper Room to organize and then grow their ministries.

Enjoy the podcast!

Join Us for the Rest & Renew Retreat This Summer!

Each year is full of students, retreats, 1x1's, staff meetings, service events, Masses, crises and everything in between!  The question is this: how do you rest and renew after a busy year in campus ministry?

This summer, join campus ministers from around the country for Rest & Renew: Campus Ministers Retreat at Holy Name Retreat Center in Houston, TX.  

We'd love to see you for 24 hours of prayer, dialogue, reflection, fellowship and yes, REST.  Fr. Ray Cook, OMI (Chaplain of the Catholic Student Center at Rice University) will be our guide as we look back on the year and be renewed by the Lord.  

Download the April Edition of PULSE Magazine!

Our April edition of PULSE is ready for you to enjoy and share with your colleagues in campus ministry.  Our feature story on Crystal Sullivan from the University of Dayton is especially helpful in terms of keeping fresh in campus ministry ... and being successful for the long haul.

Click here to read PULSE.

Looking for your Next Campus Ministry Speaker?

Today CCMA introduces another resource as part of our Pyramid.  The CCMA Speaker Bureau is a "one stop shop" for finding an excellent speaker at a price range that you can afford.

Click here for the list of speakers.

Topics range from fundraising to evangelization to leadership.  We hope you enjoy this new resource from CCMA.

Podcast 32: Keith Borchers on Effective Teamwork

We all have been on teams that have been less than stellar.  What is it about teamwork that is so elusive?  This week's podcast features Keith Borchers from Evangelium Consulting.  Keith is an expert in teamwork and walks us through the key behaviors and attributes of effective teams.

Visit Evangelium's website for more information about their work and how they focus on Catholic teams.

4 Reasons to Use an App for Your Ministry

When the first iPhone came out in 2007, there was no "app store" as we know it today.  The phone could surf the web, take calls and handle email. I can still remember a year or so after that the many commercials that would say, "there's an app for that".  

Here's Apple's official iPhone 3G commercial:

I remember buying the 3G iPhone and feeling like I was on top of the world.  It felt so powerful to do so much with something so portable.

Today, things are different.  There are millions of apps.  It can be overwhelming to even search the App Store, whether you use an iPhone or an Android phone.  

Ministries Can Still Benefit from Apps

The fact is, campus ministry programs can still benefit from having their own apps.  Sure, the market is flooded with apps but some of the most successful campus ministry programs in the country utilize apps.  

Four Reasons to Use an App

I would offer four primary reasons for creating your own app for ministry on your campus:

  1. To get your message out.  Everyone wants to "reach more".  While a weekend homily is very effective, it is often limited in scope to those who are in attendance at Mass.  What about everyone else on campus?  For most campuses, between 50-90% of Catholics won't hear the weekend homily.  An app can fill in that gap.  By capturing your weekend messages, short blurbs or even your podcast, the app does the work for you.
  2. To communicate when students can't give you face time.  Many students are involved with more clubs than they can realistically attend.  Unfortunately, Catholic campus ministry can be seen (for some) as just another club.  An app can help you to "push out" information, reminders, words of inspiration to those who simply can't attend every event you run.
  3. To project a contemporary vibe.  While this is not the most important reason for using an app, it doesn't hurt.  If your ministry had their own app, it tells people (students and benefactors) that you're innovating and up with the times.
  4. To build community.  This is very important.  While an app can never substitute for real-life and face-to-face community, an app can be a first step.  An app can offer a venue for prayer requests and even small group dialogue.

A New and Free Resource for You

Through a strategic partnership with My Parish App, the largest provider of Catholic apps, CCMA is now offering a free app to all of its members.

We introduced this last week through a webinar to interested campuses and the response was very positive.  

This new resource fits in nicely with the third part of our ministry pyramid.

Just head over to this page that the My Parish Team has created in order to take the next steps for your ministry.  Again, it's 100% free and could be a significant asset in your desire to reach more students.  



CCMA's Role in the Future of Campus Ministry

Admittedly this post is more philosophical than prior posts which aimed for practicality.  I wrote this after spending a week in dialogue with CCMA members and our Executive Board.  As we held the Executive Board meeting on Oct. 9/10, the seeds of this post were conceived by the Board.

Many wonder about the role that CCMA will play in the ever-changing nature of campus ministry in the U.S.  

Here are my thoughts:

The St. Louis Executive Board Meeting on March 9th and 10th was an important touchpoint for CCMA.  It marked the first time the Board had met in person in nearly four years and allowed us to review CCMA's past, evaluate our present and map a course for the future.

Much has changed since 1985 when the U.S. Bishops wrote "Empowered by the Spirit: Campus Ministry Faces the Future".  The core affirmations spoken in the document still hold true today as "progress has clearly been made in integrating campus ministry into the life of the Church".  The importance of campus ministry is likewise affirmed today, as it was when the document was first written, "Campus ministry is one of the important ways the Church exercises her mission in higher education."

Related to this, Empowered provides a holistic framework for campus ministry, inviting campus ministers to build systems and moments that enable the following to occur:

  • formation of the faith community
  • appropriating the faith
  • forming the Christian conscience 
  • educating for justice
  • facilitating personal development
  • developing leaders for the future

The core of *Empowered* still animates campus ministry today while new realities have emerged.  The moral climate is increasingly secular and young adults are leaving the Church at an alarming rate.  This is a serious threat to our Church and our world.  

Many vibrant campus ministry programs do exist around the country, utilizing creativity and faithfulness to the Gospel.  Their campus ministers are highly skilled, brave Catholics who do impressive work with the young people in their care.

Unfortunately, too many campuses have programs that are not performing at a high level.  Even worse, it is estimated that over 2,000 campuses have no Catholic campus ministry program at all, endangering the faith of millions of young adults.

Attentive to these movements, the Church has seen the emergence of new ministries and innovative models.  Organizations that didn't exist in 1985 today complement the work of campus ministry and at their best, broaden the reach of campus ministers into all corners of a campus.  The collaboration between campus ministers and new ministry resources is rarely easy but often fruitful, reaching more students for Christ and equipping young Catholics to transition into adult participation in the life of the Church.

Contemporary popes have urged the Church to see that evangelization and personal discipleship in Christ are foundational to all that we do in ministry.  Using relational models and with a zeal for the Gospel, campus ministry is still "one of the important ways the Church exercises her mission in higher education" (Empowered by the Spirit).

To this end, the CCMA Executive Board has identified three areas of focus which we believe will generate transformative impact on campuses around the country:

Leadership, Standards, and Formative Resources

  1. Leadership: We will lead campus ministry into its next chapter of faithful service to Christ and the Church.  Not content with the progress of our past, we will lead with zeal, innovation and professionalism in order to promote the most fruitful and dynamic approaches to campus ministry.  We will be unafraid to promote excellence and facilitate moments of collaborative dialogue.  We will acknowledge differences of approach and theology while being reminded that this is the work of Christ and not of our own doing.  The ultimate judge of ministry fruitfulness will be evangelization on campus and formation of the students reached for mature discipleship and vocational awareness.
  2. Standards: We will develop standards to drive people to the most fruitful, dynamic Catholic expressions of campus ministry. Some standards are already in place while others will be articulated in the days ahead.  The standards will work together to form a common framework for evangelization, formation, and missionary discipleship.  In all things, we will envision campus ministry programs that utilize best practices, growth and a commitment to excellence.  
  3. Formative Resources: We will offer formation, resources and training to equip campus ministers to reach this standard wherever they are, no matter the type of campus or university.  Whenever possible we will point campus ministries to the finest resources available.  

The emphasis on Leadership, Standards and Formative Resources is not a departure from what CCMA has traditionally been about, namely formation, networking and resources.  As campus ministry evolves, so too must CCMA in its approach as a professional association.

We believe wholeheartedly that campus ministers and the ministries they lead can change the world.  We are involved in a serious, joyful and noble work.  

The Church needs the absolute best from its campus ministries and CCMA is here to lead the charge.  Our work is vitally important and together, we can witness a new generation of young people who love Christ and are welcomed into the Church.