Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Bishop Senior Visits Millersville Campus Ministry, Blesses New Oratory

Nestled in the heart of farm country, Bishop Timothy Senior made his first visit to the campus ministry Newman House at Millersville University on April 24. During his visit, the bishop blessed the new oratory in the house, where Father Stephen Logue, campus minister, will celebrate Masses for the students.

For a number of years, Catholic Campus Ministry shared a building with the university HUB for Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. The HUB building was sold in the spring of 2022, and students then used a conference room as a worship site for the 2022-2023 school year. Last summer, students renovated part of the Newman House to serve as a chapel that can hold up to 30.

The chapel is named for St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped by Arab slave traders in 1877 when she was 8 years old. She was subsequently bought and sold more than a dozen times over the next 12 years, enduring countless beatings that left her with more than 100 scars. In 1883, she was sold to the Italian Vice Consul, who gave her to a family in Italy who took her as their nanny. The family eventually placed Josephine in the custody of the Canossian Sisters in Venice. During this time, she began to discern a call to religious life, and she received the Sacraments of Initiation in 1890. She took her final vows with the Canossian Sisters on December 8, 1896, and for 42 years worked as a cook and doorkeeper at the convent. She also visited other convents to tell her story. She died February 8, 1947, and was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II on October 1, 2000.

“As we were renovating the Newman House to prepare for the chapel, we came to the realization that there was a distinct lack of diversity in the images of the saints throughout the house. We were able to obtain a painting of St. Josephine Bakhita for the oratory, and so decided to name it after her. It’s very much a witness to the authentic diversity of the saints in the Catholic Church,” said Father Logue.

During the Mass, Bishop Senior reflected on the daily Gospel reading from John, where Jesus spoke of coming to the world to be a “light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46)

“What do we bring? Always the light. The light who is Jesus Christ. The light that we, as baptized Christians, receive; that light is represented in that Easter candle. Jesus says in the Gospel today, ‘I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness,’” said Bishop Senior. “Jesus is always inviting us into the light. Into His presence and His love. We do that in the wonderful way by celebrating the Eucharist.”

The bishop continued that we are also called to share the light of Christ with others.

“We need to look for those who are struggling in darkness and somehow, bring the light of God’s mercy to them,” he said.

After the Mass, students gathered with Bishop Senior for a homemade dinner. Jenna Helsel, a senior biology major, and Josh Kinsky, a senior meteorology major, both told The Witness they were excited for the bishop’s visit.

“It’s exciting. I remember when we found out the news, it was exciting. It’s just an honor to have him come here and hold Mass for us,” said Helsel.

Both have been involved with campus ministry for several years, adding this form of ministry is important for young adults.

“I think it’s extremely important. I’m a meteorology major and I’ve loved weather since I was a little kid. My dream has always been to be a weather man. But going here, I’ve realized how important this is as well. Coming to men’s group, coming to Wednesday night dinners, having a community with everyone else who is also Catholic, it’s just very important,” said Kinsky.

“This is the point in many young adults’ lives when we are experiencing adulthood and independence and it’s great to have that one thing to still be a constant in our lives and to help us continue our faith,” added Helsel.

“It’s increasingly difficult to live your faith in college,” Father Logue said. “With Catholic Campus Ministry, we look to what we can offer students so they can live and learn about their Catholic faith. We also find that their involvement at the Newman House helps them foster authentic friendships in faith, friendships that are deeper and beyond interests and classes they have in common. My goal as Campus Minister is receive the students who come in as university students, care for them during their four years here, and then hand them off to their parish or a young adult group ready to start their next chapter when they graduation.”

Catholic Campus Ministry at Millersville University is highlighted by weekly Mass, movie nights, socials, trips and the popular Wednesday night dinner, which is a tradition at the Newman House. Each week, students gather for Adoration and Mass, and then take turns cooking for one another.

(Photos by Rachel Bryson, The Catholic Witness.)

By Rachel Bryson, The Catholic Witness

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