Cover photo of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception taken by Sean Newhouse
When University of Dayton’s campus closed due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 20, campus ministers reacted the same way that many of us did.
Campus minister Mike Bennett described his reaction to the news as a “grieving process,” a sentiment shared by many UD students, especially seniors.
Crystal Sullivan, the executive director of Campus Ministry, put it bluntly: “I was sad. Really sad.”
She added that along with being sad, she was fearful about the ambiguity posed by COVID-19.
Campus Ministry’s work is especially relational, which is made difficult when people are supposed to remain physically away from one another. As Bennett put it, “So what does ministry look like now?”
This question is answered, in part, by Campus Ministry’s efforts to create virtual opportunities so that members of the UD community can be spiritually connected despite being physically apart.
One such opportunity is weekday noon prayer via Zoom.
Each weekday at noon a campus minister leads UD students, faculty, staff and even alumni in a roughly 15-minute prayer. Senior Will Capuano regularly attends the virtual prayer.
“I participate…because one – I love prayer services hosted by UD Campus Ministry,” he said. “Second, living in these tough circumstances that prohibit the UD community from being together in person, I take part in these prayer services to stay connected to UD and its incredible community members.”
Capuano encourages other UD students to participate.
“…[I]t’s only about 15 minutes long so it’s very doable. And there’s just something about sharing this prayer with so many UD community members across the world.”
The type of prayer that is done each time changes. For example, last Monday attendees prayed the Lectio Divina, which is a combination of scripture reading, meditation and prayer.
Prior to beginning it, the campus minister leading it said: “I’m a big fan of this psalm.”
Information on how to attend the noon prayer, and an archive of past noon prayers, can be found here.
Another opportunity offered by Campus Ministry was “Piano Pew.” Livestreamed on YouTube, the virtual event allowed viewers to request Catholic “bops, bangers, and jams” from Scott Paeplow, campus minister for liturgical music, who played them on the piano in UD’s Chapel.
“It was a way for people to be together virtually in community,” Bennett said of the event. “I know I was singing along at home.”
Sullivan praised the Campus Ministry staff who have made all of this possible.
She added that while she has less in-person contact than normal, she is reaching out in new ways to people who she had been talking to less. While she typically takes time to reflect during her day, she’s also found that she has been especially mindful recently of how we are being changed through these experiences.
“I would like to encourage UD students to seize the moments that they are in as UD Flyers,” Sullivan said. Specifically, she said she’s striving to pay attention to what is most important and let go of disappointments in order to be more present in the moment and to support our community and our world.
Bennett stressed that campus ministers are available for students even if they aren’t on campus.
“[We] are still working, and we’re still here to support students and journey with [them],” he said.
You can schedule a time to talk with a priest or campus minister by calling 937-229-3339.
The Marianist Brothers are live streaming their 10 a.m. Sunday Masses from their house on Chambers. More information on this, and other virtual offerings from Campus Ministry, can be found here.
All Masses at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception have been cancelled. The Chapel is open, however, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for private prayer and Confession is available weekly on Fridays.
Click here for other answers to faith-based questions relating to the coronavirus.