CCMA on the Road: Kansas City & Denver

It's been a great week as I travelled with Fr. Chris (CCMA Board Chair) and Chrysta (Director of Member Services) to both Kansas City and Denver.

In Kansas City, thanks to the generous support of the Hilton Foundation, over 20 of us met in order to discuss how we can promote (nationally) the presence of religious sisters on campus.

From there, the three of us traveled to Denver to meet with the leadership team of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students).  Special thanks to Brenda Cannella for hosting us.

Next up: UPenn and WashU


Vine is Gone (and why Campus Ministers Should Take Notice)

Vine, the once wildly popular video sharing app, is being shut down by its parent company, Twitter.  Twitter announced on October 27, "In the coming months we'll be discontinuing the mobile app."

You can read the full story here.

This is a big deal.  I grew up just north of Boston and there was a clothing store chain, Bradlees.  Before Walmart moved into the area, Bradlees was king.  Today, the stores are gone.  New England Patriots fans now have to trek all the way to the nearest Walmart for their #87 jersey.  

The same with MySpace.  What's next to go away?  Meerkat?  Periscope?  Yahoo?

Some have called the death of Vine ‘A potentially devastating blow to the meme economy.’

Many campus ministry programs use Constant Contact or FlockNote for their database needs. For fundraising, eTapestry and Raiser's Edge seem to be the "big dogs" on campus.  

A word of caution- if Vine reminds us of anything it's that nothing this short of heaven is permanent.  Your data should be backed up.  The products we use should be sourced from companies that have staying power.  

Facebook is cool but don't do all of your networking via Facebook.

Same with Twitter and Instagram.  They likely won't be around in another ten years.

Great campus ministers know that the best forms of communication are found in one conversation at a time.  They realize that technology complements the face-to-face.  Let's choose our tools wisely.

Podcast 15 with Sr. Jenny Zimmerman

To say that the students of USC are fortunate would be an understatement.  Besides having a wonderful Director of Campus Ministry in Rosie Shawver, they have a new addition to their team this year.

Sr. Jenny Zimmerman is our guest this week on the podcast and she is the Campus Minister for Spiritual Life at USC.  Sr. Jenny, an avid Cleveland Indians fan, is also funny, down to earth and has a number of great insights on vocation discernment for young adults.

I really enjoyed my chat with Sr. Jenny and we also referenced an upcoming event sponsored by the Hilton Foundation and the good work they are doing related to religious sisters.  

You can reach Sr Jenny via the Caruso Catholic Center.  Enjoy the cast!

Bishop Fernand Cheri, New Episcopal Moderator for CCMA

Earlier today, Fr. Chris LeBlanc sent this notice out to membership and it's great news indeed!  We are thrilled to welcome Bishop Cheri as our next Episcopal Moderator.

Message from Fr. Chris LeBlanc, Board Chairman

"It gives me great pleasure to announce that the Most Reverend Fernand J. Cheri, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans has accepted an invitation from our Executive Board to serve as our association’s Episcopal Moderator.

We are most grateful to Bishop Cheri for making the commitment to join in the task of strengthening campus ministers. May our work together be in the service of the Gospel and serve to bring people closer to Christ.

Bishop Cheri brings a wealth of experience to CCMA, particularly from his years of service in diverse parish settings. He is a graduate of both Notre Dame University (New Orleans) and Xavier University (New Orleans).

Bishop Cheri was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 1978 and joined the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) in 1992. He served as the Associate Director of Campus Ministry at his alma mater, Xavier University (2009-2010), and as the Director of Campus Ministry at Quincy University (2011-2015).

In his role as our Episcopal Moderator, Bishop Cheri will provide episcopal input in the formation and execution of our vision, advocate for the mission of CCMA, and facilitate relationships between CCMA and the larger Church, particularly the USCCB.

I am grateful for the prayers and support you will most assuredly offer to Bishop Cheri. May our faithful service form us into credible leaders in our churches, on our campuses, and in our communities."

Fr. Chris LeBlanc


Podcast Episode 14: Cristina D'Averso of Rider University & Monmouth University

How do you balance the demands of campus ministry on not one but two campuses? 

That's what this week's episode of the podcast tries to answer with our exclusive interview with Director of Campus Ministry Cristina D'Averso.  Cristina ministers at both Rider and Monmouth Universities.  I visited with Cristina in the summer and was immediately impressed.

We talk about the tools she uses to communicate with students.  I also really enjoyed her perspective about faculty and staff and some practical ways to include them in campus ministry.

If you like the podcast, why not share it with someone else?  Even better- give us a positive rating on iTunes:)

Visiting the National Catholic Education Association

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of visiting with members of the staff of NCEA, the National Catholic Education Association in Washington, DC.  Tom Burnford, their newly appointed CEO and President is an excellent leader and a true advocate for Catholic education.  While NCEA typically deals with K-12 Catholic education, their support for higher ed, and campus ministry in general, is strong.

Visiting with "cousin organizations" is always a good idea.  It builds bridges and spurs on new ideas.  Who can you visit with this week to broaden your network?

Podcast 12 with Marcel LeJeune of Texas A & M

Enjoy this cast with Marcel LeJeune of St. Mary's Catholic Center at Texas A & M.  Marcel is the Associate Director of Campus Ministry and one of the leading voices for campus ministry around the country.  

St. Mary's Catholic Center typically welcomes 4,000-5,000 students per weekend for Mass.  They have six weekend Masses and a wonderful campus ministry program.  

I think you'll love this chat with Marcel:

For more information about Marcel, visit his website.

For more information about St. Mary's Catholic Center, visit their website.

Podcast 10: Friar John Bamman, OFM, Conv.

You're going to love this week's podcast with Friar John Bamman, OFM, Conv.  Friar John is the Vocation Director for Our Lady of Consolation Province.  

Want more information about the Franciscans?  Head over to their website where you can see how Friar John is using the New Media to his advantage.  

Enjoy the show and if you like it, please share it with others.  That helps us get the cast into the hands of other leaders just like you.

On the Road: Cincinnati, Archdiocese, Webinars & Wright State University

We've just wrapped up another road trip and managed to visit some former board members, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the staff of the Catholic Center at Wright State University.  

Special thanks to Fr. Ed Burns, who was gracious in providing hospitality to the Meetup.  I'm also grateful to Celeste who works with Fr. Ed and of course Chrysta Bolinger for arranging every little detail of the night.  

We also managed to host our monthly webinar and put the spotlight on Shari Reilly and her excellent team at St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center at Iowa State.  

Podcast Episode 9: Interview with Gordy DeMarais

This was a really fun conversation!  Gordy DeMarais, founder of St. Paul's Outreach and I chatted about how he founded SPO, what's next for the organization and how he stays fresh in his ministry.  Gordy is a true man of God and models humility for his family and for those who have become a part of the SPO culture of evangelization.  Gordy was given the Catholic Man of the Year award from the Catholic Defense League and he and his wife Teresa are the proud parents of six children.  

Want more information about SPO?


A Free Resource to Make Your Graphics Beautiful

Most of us don't have the time to learn Adobe Photoshop or another heavy program like it.  Still, we all need beautiful graphics that will invite students to each of our programs.  And, let's face it, people judge us on our promotional materials.  

These could include:

  • Signage for office hours, Mass times and Confessions
  • Flyers for upcoming events
  • Instructions for "where to go"
  • Promotions for guest speakers
  • Invitations to Holy Hours, service projects, Fall retreats, small groups and much more!

With all of these in mind, which tool can you use to make all of your graphics attractive while still minding the budget?  

We use for nearly all of our graphics, logos, flyers and promotional materials.  I've used Canva for about two years and have to say that it's so easy to use, I can't imagine using something more complex.  To the left, you'll see a flyer we made that helps to explain how annual giving to CCMA benefits campus ministers.  This took all of 15 minutes to create.

Couple this with free photos from and you'll turn ordinary promotional materials into stunning tools that invite greater participation.

Don't take my word for it... try it yourself!

An Inside Look at the CCMA Executive Board Nominating Process

CCMA is a unique organization.  As a professional association of members, its board, called the Executive Board, is charged with the oversight of the Executive Director (me!) and the operations of the organization.  All the while, the Board is mandated to ensure that CCMA is true to its Catholic mission and has a future.  Thus, there is one part vision and another part operations.

This is different from a "parish advisory council" which is typically just a sounding board for a pastor.  The CCMA Board also differs from a university board which is often totally self sufficient.  Finally, the CCMA Board is different from a high school "board of trustees" which is often designated as a "board of limited jurisdiction".

All fancy words to spell out one thing: the CCMA Board is unique and very important.

I'm grateful for the Board that has led CCMA in this past season of service and also for those who have served on the Board in past decades.  As the membership approved a new set of Bylaws and Constitution this past Spring, the Executive Board now is tasked with accepting nominations for itself.

Some Details

  1. Starting in January, there will be at least 3 open spots and at most 6 open spots.
  2. The criteria for Board members is here.
  3. The Board must have at least 6 Associates (individuals active in campus ministry).
  4. This year, for the first time, we can also accept nominations of individuals who may be unfamiliar with campus ministry but who can bring expertise that would be beneficial to the organization.  Think of people who like to "think big" and can also work towards that goal.  
  5. We welcome you to consider nominating yourself or another individual via this form.

If you have any questions about the process or the Board itself, please let me or Chrysta know.  We are here to answer your questions and help individuals through the nominating process.

Lord willing, we will be blessed with additional Board members who love campus ministry and want to work towards its success.  


Episode 7 of the CCMA Leadership Podcast: Barbara McCrabb

Enjoy Episode 7 of the podcast. We talked with Barbara McCrabb of the USCCB.  

Barbara is the Assistant Director for Higher Education for the Secretariat of Catholic Education at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. She brings 20 plus years of Campus Ministry experience in Catholic, state and private institutions.

In 2000 she received the Forsythe Award from CCMA for her leadership on a national, regional and local level. In 2008 she was acknowledged for an exemplary program, the Cunneen Fellows, as a service formation program. Her passion has been team building, social justice, and faith enrichment.

She has worked with Campus Ministers in formation, mentoring and leadership initiatives. She holds a Master of Divinity from Washington Theological Union and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida.

For more information about Encuentro, visit:

Putting Students in a Situation to Serve

I visited with the campus ministry team at Monmouth University and Rider University earlier this week and while the "team" is small there (only a few staff members), we discussed the blessings of connecting with students.

Additionally, we talked about how wonderful it is to put students in a situation where they can serve.  

This story caught my eye this past week and I'm not alone- a Florida State wide receiver and his teammates visited a local elementary school.  Travis Rudolph saw a young boy sitting alone and make himself right at home.  

Here's the full story.

The follow up question is simple enough: how are you putting students in situations where they can serve?

Podcast #6 with Katie Diller

One thing many campus ministers lament is the "handoff" from life in college to life in a parish.  Young adults tell us any number of the following, upon entry into a parish:

  • The music is different
  • I can't seem to find my place
  • Everyone else is older

And on it goes... let's face it, it's not easy becoming a "regular Catholic" in a parish after you've had a great experience of campus ministry in college.  

That's where ESTEEM comes in.

ESTEEM stands for "Engaging Students to Enliven the Ecclesial Mission" and Katie Diller, our guest for Podcast #6 is the national director.  

We talk about how ESTEEM works, how your campus can take advantage of it and what's at stake if we don't do "the handoff" well for young adults entering parish life.

Enjoy the cast!

The Value of Good Signage

As most college students are back to school as I'm writing this (August 22, 2016), the internet is full of great examples of Campus Ministry programs that are reaching out to new students.  Students are being invited to everything from Sunday night Mass to ice cream socials to barbecues.  

It might be easy to overlook the value of signage for newcomers but a strong campus ministry program often includes clear instructions for where to go and when to go there.

Here are some great examples of signage:

Effective signage is clear, simple and upbeat.  If it's done well, it communicates a message in less than 2 seconds.  

One resource that CCMA recommends for making eye-catching graphics and signage is  Canva is free, easy to use and requires no prior design experience.  Try it out and see how it improves your signage around campus.