by Anne Shepherd-Knapp and Alice Wold, Serra’s USA Council Vocation Committee
Serra’s USA Council and the Newman Connection, a Catholic outreach organization, have partnered over the last several years to connect graduating high school seniors with Catholic ministries at their college destinations. It is estimated that 80% of Catholics who attend college no longer practice their faith by the time they graduate from college. In fact, information from the Newman organization reveals that many of these students never locate their Catholic ministry or church at all. Your help as Serrans is greatly needed to help our young people stay close to their faith and grow in their relationship with Our Lord. It is through their connection with their college Catholic community that they will be able to make good Catholic friends, continue their formation and grow as they discern what direction God has for their lives. It is a worthwhile endeavor when we consider that our our youth are the future of our Church, and the pool from which we will draw future vocations.
Serrans can help in this most important work. At the parish level, help is needed to collect the names of the graduating high school seniors, along with the names of their college destinations. Through the Newman Connection this information is passed along to the appropriate college ministries, giving them the opportunity when resources are available to connect with the students early, so that first friendships and fun activities can happen through the Catholic community. We hope that students will find good Catholic communities that will help nurture joyful relationships and a spirituality that will complement their years of study and beyond.
It is recommended that each parish plan a graduation Mass and reception for their high school seniors celebrating this milestone in their lives and encouraging them to stay in touch with their parish family. The graduates can be invited to process into Mass wearing their caps and gowns and be seated in a special reserved section with their families. A reception with refreshments can follow where students can receive Catholic ministry information packets specific to the college each will attend. These can be prepared by local Serrans in advance through http://newmanconnection.com.
In cases where the student contact and college information are not readily available in advance of the graduation Mass, the reception can be a good time to obtain information for later processing using cards designed by Newman Connection for that purpose. Keep in mind though, that the information is most effective when shared with students in the presence of parents who can reinforce its use. The graduation Mass provides just such an opportunity.
The Newman Connection website address should also be shared with the students because there is a wealth of information for students and parents there, such as Mass times, location, and a great variety of social and spiritual events. As Serrans, we never know when or how the opportunity will arise for us to help students and their families make the connection to their Catholic faith. Each local Serra club has the ability to provide this information to their local students. Go to Serraspark.org for additional information and details on how your club can share in preserving the faith by connecting our students through this important program: Newman Connection. Find it under Tools at Serraspark.org. Start planning now for program completion prior to graduation dates.
We thank the Newman Connection organization for their exclusive coverage of private and diocesan Catholic school students making campus ministry connections. They work directly with each Catholic school so Serrans can focus on other students through local parishes.