At Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy, faith is at the center of everything. Each day students, parents, faculty and staff strive to recognize the presence of Christ in themselves and others while committing to Christian values and high ethical standards inside and outside the classroom.
That’s why SJCA has introduced a new Campus Ministry program. In accordance with SJCA’s goal to teach students to make decisions within context of their faith, the new program will nourish the spiritual life of the school community and provide opportunities for students who want to explore and connect with their faith on a deeper level.
The program’s first initiative was introducing weekly, all-school Mass in the Student Life Center. Each week, the entire school community gathers to celebrate Mass with Father Jonathan. Students have been inspired by Father Jonathan’s homilies, which are designed to guide them throughout the following week as they work to live out their Christian values. Director of Campus Ministry Nick Astle notes that “since the Mass is the ‘source and summit of the Christian life’ it is at the core of our identity as a Catholic school,” making weekly Mass an important addition to the life of the school.
Weekly Mass also gives students more opportunities to take part in Ministry programs. To date, five different Campus Ministry groups have been formed to give students a more active role in planning and executing Campus Ministry programs. So far, students have volunteered to provide music for all-school Masses, to assist with different liturgical ministry roles during Mass—such as lectors and altar servers—and to plan all-school chapel periods, enrichment day class retreats and before-school ministries. Astle hopes that the all-school chapel period will be almost entirely student-run by the end of the school year, which will allow students to develop leadership skills and take responsibility for their spiritual growth.
To encourage this spiritual growth, SJCA is also offering different prayer opportunities and devotions throughout the week for students who want to pursue a deeper faith. This includes intercessory prayer, praise and worship, Eucharistic adoration and other devotions. Astle says that the Campus Ministry program is aiming to increase the variety and availability of these opportunities throughout the year. One such opportunity will be the first ever all-school retreat, which will be led by a team from the Jesuit Spiritual Center in Milford, Ohio, this spring.
Astle hopes that opportunities like these will nourish and strengthen the spiritual lives of the students and enable them to grow in servant leadership. The ultimate goal of the Ministry is to encourage students to take an active role in the school’s faith life. Astle wants the students to have a sense of fellowship and community, while also developing a strong faith that will guide them throughout their lives. As Father Jonathan said during the homily of a recent, all-school Mass “If you encounter Jesus, follow him and seek him out…you will do great things.”