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STM campus ministry growing in knowledge, faith and numbers

By Michael MacLean


SASKATOON — Students in the St. Thomas More College community have benefitted from STM campus ministry ever since Rev. Ulysses “Bud” Pare, CSB, established the first campus ministry team at STM, which included ordained, religious and lay people working together in collaboration at St. Thomas More College in the 1970s.

The idea was that a balanced team, complete with diversity and variety, would be the most comprehensive way to serve the needs of students.

The present campus ministry team features Michael MacLean, Madeline Oliver and Rev. André Lalach, who presides at Divine Liturgy Fridays in the STM chapel. The team has the support of Rev. Ron Griffin, CSB, who presides at celebration of the eucharist Tuesday to Thursday in the STM chapel at 11:30 a.m. and on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. This fall, the St. Thomas More College campus ministry team also welcomed new part-time team member Rev. Mark Blom, OMI.

Blom is the vocations director for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He is able to continue his work in vocations while serving the community at STM by presiding at the 5 p.m. Sunday celebration of the eucharist, and at the 11:30 a.m. weekday mass on Monday morning. Blom has an interest in discernment and spiritual direction, and he incorporates whatever he can (including props) to make the Gospel come to life in his homilies.

In a recent report to the STM Corporation, director of Mission and Ministry Gertrude Rompré stated, “At STM, paths of dialogue are created in our interactions with students.” Rompré added that the STM campus ministry team is on the front lines of this encounter, offering a ministry of presence to all students seeking to nurture both their faith and intellectual lives.

She also referred to “innovative programming” — like TED Talk time at STM — as a means to engage students in dialogue. According to its website, “TED is a platform for ideas worth spreading. Started in 1984 as a conference where technology, entertainment and design converged, TED today shares ideas from a broad spectrum — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independent TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.”

This year is the third for TED Talk time at STM. It consists of gathering students together to screen a TED talk and engage in discussion, while enjoying snacks provided by the host group. Campus ministry has acted as host a number of times since TED Talk time’s inception in 2013. Other groups to host the event include the department of Religion and Culture, Students Services, Engaged Learning, the Newman Centre, STMSU, Friends of Sophia, the Knights of Columbus, and In Medias Res.

The talks range in their scope, from Education (Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on schools and creativity) to Religion (AJ Jacobs’ talk on My Year of Living Biblically) to living authentically (Brene Brown’s talk on The Power of Vulnerability).

The nature of TED talk time is to develop partnerships, and one such relationship that developed this year was with the university’s committee that created events for Sexual Assault Awareness week. In conjunction with the other events that week, STM hosted TED Talk time that was devoted to this topic, screening Jackson Katz’ talk, “Violence against women — it’s a men’s issue.” The entire complement of Peer Health mentors joined the regular audience for pizza and discussion, making that TED talk the highest attended session to date.

Whether it is engaging in dialogue at TED Talk time, chatting in the hallway or cafeteria, or having a one-on-one encounter in the campus ministry office space, all of the STM team members are willing to lend a listening ear with a positive ministry of presence.

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