Staff Ed: Catholic campus ministries activities shine light on UMW’s campus environment
By THE BLUE & GRAY PRESS STAFF
If you were on campus Monday night around 9 p.m., you most likely witnessed a procession of students and religious clerics coming from the direction of Jefferson Davis Highway. With them came traditional Catholic hymns such as “Ecclesia Dei,” and pamphlets detailing the Catholic Campus Ministries’ activities at Ball Circle for the evening.
For most of us, this was the first time students were seen conducting public religious practice on campus, although we are no strangers to religious solicitation on campus. However, the University of Mary Washington, in accordance with many other universities, prides itself on being a non-denominational campus, which is why activities that are religious in nature do not occur often on Ball Circle, or any other area on campus for that matter.
Founded in 1998, FOCUS, Fellowship of Catholic University Students, is a campus outreach program inspired by Pope John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization.” FOCUS hires and trains recent college graduates and sends them back to campus. These missionaries host creative outreach events, lead small group Bible studies and mentor students on a one-on-one basis.
Monday night’s event was meant to entice students to be a part of FOCUS and the Catholic Campus Ministry by raising awareness of the organizations’ following on campus. While this is just and allows students who practice Catholicism a place of unity, safety, faith and prayer, is it an infringement on UMW’s non-denominational policy?
Other organizations on campus, such as DivestUMW, have conducted walks and processions similar to the CCM’s monday night event. But does the fact that the CCM is a religious based organization changed their role on campus?
We at The Blue & Gray Press believe that Monday night’s gathering proved that UMW is a welcoming environment and is open to the practice of religion on campus. In fact, activities such as these allow the campus to think about their environment and the diversity we hold at UMW.