At college, make friends and go to Mass

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I could write about the solid marriages and subsequent cute babies that have come out of the Newman Club/Catholic Campus Ministry at Rowan University, but then you might think that all the organization is about is matchmaking. And that would be wrong.

OK, but wait, I will talk about them, because everyone loves a good love story. And who doesn’t like babies?

A lot of young men and women have met at Newman/CCM and gotten married. Many of the couples have been very dear to me over the years. Some live locally, some engaged couples are separated as one finishes a graduate degree or works elsewhere, and one wife and husband who have been special to me forever are somewhere on Long Island as he wraps his Ph.D.

Some of my favorite stories are about the guys who proposed to their ladies at Adoration. What could be more significant than asking the person you want to spend the rest of your life with to commit to that in the Presence of Jesus? Forget Jumbotrons at sporting events and diamonds dangling in champagne glasses; it gets no more romantic than proposing with Christ present. That 21-year-old men understand that is spectacular.

Out of some of those marriages that have their roots in Rowan’s Newman/CCM have come a ton of babies. Some parents now have families with several children; one of my favorite couples just welcomed their first (shout-out to Eva, and welcome to the world). These parents have a strong background in their faith, started by their families, enhanced by their Newman/CCM experience. Now, they share that with their own children.

But I digress. As staff advisor to Newman/CCM for more than 17 years — (Note: Every sanctioned club at Rowan has to have a staff advisor from among faculty or staff at the University. I work for Rowan, and I volunteer as staff advisor. The Newman/CCM folks make the “job” easy; they are well organized, orthodox Catholics and fun. Plus they keep snacks at the Newman House, which is located a couple of blocks from my office.) — I think it’s important for serious Catholics, and even for lukewarm Catholics, to remember a few things while at college:

— There’s no need to lose faith when you go to college. And there’s no excuse not to attend Mass. Newman Clubs/Catholic Campus Ministries/etc. either offer Mass on or near campus or can point you to a nearby church.

— If your Newman/CCM has its own facility like the one in Glassboro, you’ll find a place to crash, to study, to snooze, to chat, to share homemade meals, to catch a ride and find a shoulder.

— You will make lifelong friends. Rowan students have been each other’s bridesmaids and maids of honor, and they are offspring’s aunts and uncles and godparents. These are people who will share laughter with you and share your pain as well.

— You have to get involved in something at college in order to have a healthy and well-rounded experience. Whether you reside at your school or commute, you have to join something that captures your interest. At places like Newman/CCM, you will find people who may be in your major or something that would never interest you, may share your sense of humor or not get you at all, may be equally committed to service projects or want to sit things out, may love line dancing or video games, may gripe about homework and exams or seem to soar through everything, and may be from 150 miles away or around the corner. You will meet people with whom you have a lot — or little — in common. But you will share values and the most important thing — a love of God. These people will help you grow in your faith.

— You will get to know God a little better, get to experience his love more fully and share in his mission side by side with some pretty spectacular people. And that, as you pursue your education and rush toward your future, is about as good as it gets.

Patricia Quigley is assistant director of Media & Public Relations, Rowan University, Glassboro.