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.  

Episode 30: Catholic Pilgrimages for College Students

In Episode 30 we talk with John Paul Lichon of Verso Ministries. John Paul is an expert at taking college students on pilgrimages to sacred sites.

Verso is generous enough to offer CCMA members $100 off the upcoming pilgrimage to Hawaii. Just enter "ccma100" in the promo code box when you sign up for the Hawaii event.

In addition, we recommend the article, "5 Reasons to Organize a Pilgrimage on Your Campus" here:

How do Others Perceive You on Campus?

Have you noticed that everyone seems to be wearing those multi-colored socks these days?  I realized I was really out of it when my black dress socks were being phased out by my wife in favor of striped socks.  When I inquired as to where my black socks had gone, she smiled and said, "You've been upgraded."

Who knew that what you wear actually has an impact on others?  

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research  examined the theory that people who are nonconformists can potentially be viewed as having better status and more competency that those that conform. (Here's the full article).  

When you're on campus, how do you think that others perceive you?  While you might not need to wear crazy socks, are you memorable?  Does your "image" rub off on others in a positive way?  Do you have a signature look that will make you readily seen?

The point isn't so much to go out and buy socks. Rather, take a few minutes to think about how you look and how you convey when you're on campus.  Do you think others perceive you as an expert campus minister who cares about students?  

In other news, we've just updated our EVENTS page.  You should join us for one of the upcoming meetings or even our campus minister retreat.  

Time to Rethink the Weekly Bulletin?

Many campus ministry programs provide a "weekly bulletin" for students, reminding them of upcoming events and activities.  Like parishes around the country, the bulletin serves as a way to communicate.

Or does it?

The weekly bulletin is valuable, to a limited degree, for three groups of people:

1. The campus ministry staff.  The bulletin forces the team to set deadlines and think through how events are communicated.
2. The students who attend weekly Mass.  
3. Those that don't attend weekly Mass but see the bulletin on the campus ministry website.  

Of the three groups, which is most important?  I'd say #'s 2 and 3.  

If you produce a weekly bulletin, make sure that two things happen:
a) It must be a quality, appealing and brief read.
b) You must not spend too much time producing it.

It's really important to keep in mind the third group- those that don't go to Mass.  How valuable is your bulletin to them?  How likely are they to check your website?

For some campus ministry programs, it may be time to rethink the weekly bulletin.  I'm not saying that it's worthless.  What I do suggest is to talk about it with your staff and with students; they will tell you how valuable (or not) the bulletin is to them.  

Another idea might be to tweet out or text out to students the most important parts of your bulletin.  Small, bite-sized pieces of information might be better absorbed than a 2-4 page spread.

How to Respond to the Immigration Bans

I just searched three of the top Catholic websites to see if there were articles about the Trump Immigration Bans.  I wanted to see if I could find some advice for campus ministers.  Instead, there was nothing there.

If college students are talking about these things, why are we so hesitant to discuss them?  

Only when I went to America Magazine's home page did I find a reference to Cardinal Cupich's statement in response to the bans.

Relevant Magazine has this piece about nationalism and whether or not it's Biblical.

I suggest that we facilitate more dialogue rather than less.  We should not be afraid to discuss these things but should keep a few things in mind:

  1. The Trump Administration has issued a temporary ban on seven countries that, as with the Obama administration, have primarily a Muslim population.  See: The Trump Ban: Here's What You Need to Know (CNN).
  2. In addition, the Administration has issued a temporary ban on refugees.  See: 5 Questions About The Law And Trump's Immigration Order (NPR).
  3. The US Bishops have been vocally against not only the refugee ban but also the recent articulation of a wall to be built on the US/Mexico border.  The US Bishops argue that the refugee ban harms both families and those who are most vulnerable such as children and women (See: USCCB Committee On Migration Chair Strongly Opposes Executive Order Because It Harms Vulnerable Refugee And Immigrant Families (USCCB).
  4. One can be both patriotic and Christian.  It's a moral issue to protect our borders.  It's also a moral issue to welcome those that we can into our own country.  100% open borders should not be our goal, nor should we seek a nation that is completely closed off from others.  A charitable, safe middle ground ought to be the desired goal.

How are you addressing these concerns on your campus?

Podcast 27 with Michael Lovette-Colyer of the University of San Diego

In Episode 27 we talk with Assistant Vice President of University Ministry Michael Lovette-Colyer of the University of San Diego. Michael shares his .02 on retreats, "high vs. low" tech approaches to ministry and how to include your entire community in something as simple as an Advent calendar.

For more about USD:

For the USD Advent resources:

How to Participate Fully in Your Next Ministry Conference

Whether you attend the SEEK Conference, the LA Religious Education Congress or the Mid-Atlantic Congress, having a plan will be important in order to get the most out of your experience.  

Ministry conferences can be valuable for professional development, spiritual growth and networking.  I've made some great friends as a result of seeing them annually at conferences.  

Here are some central questions for you to consider before you attend your next conference:

  • Am I an introvert or extrovert?  The former will want to schedule in "buffer times" before or after the conference in order to rest. Additionally, a quick break in the middle of the day will be beneficial. For extroverts, go nuts!  Meet as many people as you can since this energizes you.
  • Are there key people that I want to meet?  If so, make a short list and then reach out before the conference.  Find out if you can grab coffee or a drink with the person.  Is there a workshop you can attend that they are giving?
  • Can I include benefactors in my trip?  A short trip to see a donor before, during or after a conference is a great way to combine fundraising with professional development.  
  • How will I follow up the event?  I recommend setting some time aside on the day when you return in order to process your notes, send follow-up emails and possibly jot a few thank you notes.  

By asking these questions before your next ministry conference, your experience will be more rich, satisfying and blessed.

So You Want to Start a Podcast...

Podcasts are one of the last frontiers of great communication on the internet.  Emails get lost in the shuffle of our inboxes.  Tweets and Instagram posts can feel either way too random, overly shared or too perfectly designed to be personal.  

The advantages of podcasts are many.  Some in particular include:

  • The sound of a person's voice. This is very personal, leading to greater connection and a deeper method for learning.
  • Niche-specific.  A great podcast drills down on one topic and covers it from all of its angles.
  • Mobile.  Many podcast listeners enjoy casts while they are working out, cooking or commuting.  

I hear from many campus ministry programs that are interested in podcasts and might like to launch a podcast of their own.  But... as is often the case, they aren't quite sure how to launch one.

Why Might a Podcast Benefit a Campus Ministry Program?

  1. Bite-sized communication.  Podcasts allow you to push out small bits of communication in an attractive way.  
  2. A more personalized means of communication.  Since podcasts allow you to listen to a person's voice in your ear, there is a natural bond that can form.  I've had people meet me for the first time in person and say, "I feel like I already know you because of the podcast!"
  3. A way to interview stake-holders.  If you're looking to share leadership and involve more people in your ministry, a podcast is a great way to accomplish this.
  4. A way to drive traffic to your website.  By embedding links within your shownotes, you will push more traffic to your website which is always an important thing.
  5. A way to expand your brand.  A podcast is an extension of your brand.  It can become a valuable way to bring people into the fold of your ministry.  

How Can I Get Started?

Step One: Make a decision to launch a podcast.  Either do it or don't.  A poorly done cast or one that isn't updated regularly isn't worth your time.  

Step Two: Identify the person who will do the talking and the person who will do the editing.  If you're lucky, this will be the same person but it's more likely that you'll have an "on air" person and another that is the techie behind the scenes.  

Step Three: Pick a name and a central topic for your podcast.  Keep it simple and keep it short.  Run it by a few people in order to get some feedback.  You may want to talk about the Sunday Mass readings, riff on what's happening on campus or drill down on various ministry-related themes.

Step Four: Identify your gear.  A good microphone plugged into a computer is all you'll need.  

Step Five: Pick your upload location.  We recommend SoundCloud as it's the easiest to use.  This will be your "bucket" for storing podcasts.

Step Six: Go ahead and record a show!  When you have a few recorded, it will be time to release them to the world.  Don't aim for perfection right out of the gate.

Step Seven: Let others know about the podcast.  You'll want to submit your show to iTunes, include it on your website and generally tell others far and wide about your show.  The more that know about it, the more will listen to it.  Encourage people to share it online.

Bonus Tip: Listen to your own show.  This will help you get better, learning how your voice sounds and where you can improve.  I've learned to ask short questions and also to do some humming vocal work before a show to make my voice sound lower.  

Some Related Resources:

SoundCloud for show hosting

LibSyn for show hosting

Smart Passive Income Podcast Player for advanced users who use WordPress

Podcast Answer Man for tutorials on podcasts

Podcast Movement conference for those who want to go deeper into podcasting

Ready for the Next Step?

Let us at CCMA help you with your podcast!  Email me at and I'll walk you through the steps mentioned above and a whole lot more.  In no time, you'll be helping other campuses launch their own show:)


Podcast 24: How to Build Intercultural Competencies on College Campus

In this episode, we talk with one of today's leading voices in terms of multiculturalism on campus: Gabriela Karaszewski of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.  

As I travel the country, one of the common struggles is that of reaching out and including students of different cultures into campus ministry.  We want to do this but often don't know where to begin.  Gabriela offers some practical steps that every campus can use.

Enjoy the cast!

Podcast 23: Brother Ken Appuzzo, BH

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We finally had a guest in the studio here in New Jersey!  I caught up with Bro. Ken Appuzzo, BH just before Christmas and we had a stellar chat.

Bro. Ken is the General Superior of the Brotherhood of Hope.

Bro. Ken talks about what to do (and not to do!) in your first six months on campus. In addition, he shares some of the surprising details of being a General Superior of a religious community. Finally, his articulation of worship is especially relevant to campus ministry programs.

For information about the Brotherhood, visit:

For information about St. Lawrence Catholic Church & Newman Center, visit:

NEW: have you downloaded the new eBook from CCMA? Visit:

New Board Members Chosen for CCMA

Earlier this week, the CCMA Executive Board had its December conference call.  Joining us for the first time was Bishop Cheri, our new Episcopal Moderator and it was fantastic to hear his perspective and support for campus ministry.  

Part of the bylaws and constitution that were approved in 2016 included a shift to a nominating committee (which we call the Board Affairs Committee).  Gordy DeMarais and Lulu Santana co-chaired this committee and we received many nominations via a form that was posted on the CCMA website.  Individuals were invited to either self-nominate or nominate another person.  A "job description" was provided so that the qualities were clearly articulated.  The Board Affairs Committee met several times with me and then the three of us met with the executive committee of the Board to discuss nominees.  (By "met", I refer to conference calls as we are spread across the country.)

The Board sought to compliment its current roster with individuals who can help CCMA further its Catholic mission to campus ministry and campus ministers.  Additionally, we sought individuals who can help CCMA grow and expand its reach.  

The following individuals were chosen to serve on the CCMA Executive Board:

Fr. Michael Barth

Originally from Buffalo, New York, Fr. Mike currently serves as General Custodian for the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, a religious congregation of priests and brothers serving throughout the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Columbia. Before this appointment in 2015, he pastored missions in Stirling, NJ, Cleveland, Ohio, and Camden, Mississippi. Besides serving on many nonprofit boards, Fr. Mike served as Vicar General of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity for eight years.

Patrick Lencioni

Pat is the founder of The Table Group and the author of 10 books which have sold nearly 5 million copies and been translated into more than 30 languages. The Wall Street Journal called him "one of the most in demand speakers in America." He has addressed millions of people at conferences and events around the world over the past 15 years. Pat has written for or been featured in numerous publications including Harvard Business Review, Inc., Fortune, Fast Company, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek. Prior to founding The Table Group, Pat worked at Bain & Company, Oracle Corporation and Sybase. Pat lives in the Bay Area with his wife and four boys. Pat has been a presenter at the Rebuilt Catholic conferences as well as the Amazing Parish conferences.

Austin Schafer

Austin is the Pastoral Associate for Campus Ministry at The Ohio State University, St. Thomas More Newman Center. Austin has a M.A. in Theology from the University of Dayton, an Executive Certificate in Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame, and certificates in Pastoral Ministry, Catechesis and Youth Ministry. He has been in campus ministry for 10 years, 8 at Ohio State. Austin has presented at the CCMA National Convention, USCCB Frank J. Lewis Conference and for various ministry webinars. 


Fr. J. Friedel

Fr. J is the Director of Catholic Campus Ministry (Missouri State University) and Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Fr. J. is a former CCMA Board Member and former Chair of Executive Board, a former Member of USCCB Standing Committee on Campus Ministry, a current Ambassador for Certification for CCMA, former Chair/Member of Higher Education Relations Committee, former Convention Chair. 

Why Your Ministry Needs a Blog

Blogging is one of those things that most folks just don't get.  

  • What's a blog?
  • Don't bloggers have real jobs?
  • Who would read my blog if I had one?
  • I'm too busy to blog!

All of these are good questions and each has a simple answer.  I'm going to look at three of the nation's top ministry programs and let's see if they have a blog:

Answers to Questions

What's a blog?  A blog is an online location for articles, often called "posts".  A blogpost can be short or quite long.  A good blog has regular posts and is tended to like a garden.    

Don't bloggers have real jobs?  Most do, yes.  I've been blogging for a decade and have always held a "real job".  Blogging has been my hobby.  For some folks, they've been able to make a living out of blogging.

Who would read my blog if I had one?  This is probably the #1 question I hear from those who have considered blogging.  There are billions of people on the planet and some are bound to find you interesting.  In campus ministry, students find their campus ministers to be fascinating.  Trust me, if you write it, people will read it.

I'm too busy to blog!  Are you too busy to Tweet or surf Facebook?  If you are, then blogging isn't for you.  On the other hand, if you're already on social media channels, blogging might be the next frontier for your platform.

Try it out!  Get blogging today!

Ryan O'Hara on Mission, Call and Adoption

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ryan O'Hara of St. Paul's Outreach for Episode 19 of the CCMA Leadership Podcast.  Ryan's perspective on maintaining zeal in ministry is edifying!  Towards the end of the show, you'll also hear why adoption has meant so much to Ryan and his wife.  

Enjoy the cast!

Advent is Almost Here: Our Interview with Fr. Mike Schmitz

Are you ready for Advent?  Will your campus ministry program be different this year because of Advent?  What special things can you do as a leader to help others enter into the liturgical season of Advent?

Podcast episode 18 covers these questions and more!  I had the pleasure of interviewing Fr. Mike Schmitz of the University of Deluth-Minnesota.  

Fr. Mike's Newman Center at University of Deluth-Minnesota:

For Fr. Mike's "About Me" page:

For Ascension Presents YouTube Series:…klBTNhAw/featured

This week's sponsor is Spark Catholic Communications:

Podcast 16 with Fr. Nathan Castle, O.P.

In episode 16 of the CCMA Leadership Podcast, I interviewed campus ministry veteran Fr. Nathan Castle, O.P.  Fr. Nathan was the chairman of the CCMA Executive Board in years past and is known nationally as a preacher, author and mentor to many campus ministers.

His website is found here.

Fr. Nathan's book on the spirituality of the Wizard of Oz is found here.

We are grateful to St. Paul's Outreach for sponsoring this episode of the podcast.