The Office of Campus Ministry will be reorganized into three areas that will focus on pastoral care and liturgy, spirituality and mission-based service.
Father Larry Snyder, vice president for mission, said the changes will allow activities sponsored by the Office for Mission to better reflect the evolving nature of programs and services at St. Thomas.
“We want to broaden our offerings in light of the ‘One University’ concept in the strategic plan,” he said. “In the past, we have been focused on undergraduate students, and we also need to respond to the needs of graduate students, faculty and staff.”
Under the reorganization, the three new offices will be:
- Campus Ministry. This area, under direction of a new chaplain who will be appointed this spring, will be involved in pastoral care, liturgies, music and the Catholic sacraments. The area also will examine ways to offer services for other denominations and faiths, including stronger working relationships with Muslim students and the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center in the Theology Department.
- Spirituality. Susan Stabile, a School of Law professor, will move to the Office for Mission to oversee this area, which will focus on retreats, peer ministry and programs with newer student groups such as Tommie Catholic and Tommie Disciple. Stabile is a fellow in the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions.
- Service. Jacob Cunningham, director of VISION (Volunteers in Service Internationally or Nationally), will direct the Service area. It will focus on mission-based service activities, including VISION, Volunteers in Action and Tommies Together, a new volunteer center. Cunningham, a 1999 St. Thomas alumnus, has directed VISION since 2002.
Snyder emphasized that the Office for Mission will continue to live out the longstanding mission of Campus Ministry through its three pillars of faith (encouraging the spiritual formation of all), community (joining together in prayer, worship and service) and social justice (discovering social responsibility and acting to transform the world).
The collective outreach of the programs also will allow St. Thomas to better reflect and fulfill the precepts of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Snyder said. The 1990 apostolic constitution from Pope John Paul II encourages pastoral care for all students at Catholic universities.
“That is fundamental to the work of the Office for Mission,” he said, “and I believe the changes will lead to more involvement by students, faculty and staff in the faith life of our university.”
Snyder thanked Father Erich Rutten, who soon will be assigned to a parish in the archdiocese, for his nine years of service as director of Campus Ministry. A reception for Rutten will be Tuesday, May 3, at 3:30 p.m. on Campus Way on the second floor of the Anderson Student Center.