Take me to church: Campus Ministries Association at UB brings together groups of many faiths
What do Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) Buffalo, Lutheran Campus Ministry and University Bible Fellowship all have in common?
They are all clubs and organizations under the Campus Ministries Association (CMA). The CMA acts as a parent organization, mostly led by non-students, to help these groups organize events and reserve rooms around campus. They function like a religious Student Association, helping groups around campus that are religiously affiliated function on a daily basis.
Carl Hempel attended UB starting in 2009, where he received his bachelor’s degree and in civil engineering and eventually his masters in transportation engineering. He decided he wasn’t ready to leave campus just yet and became involved with the association.
“I was quite involved as a student. I helped to lead some Bible studies within CRU,” Hempel said. “When I came on staff with CRU, I became their representative to the CMA and I started doing some work within the CMA.”
CMA is not only for Christian organizations, though many of the organizations affiliated are Christian. The Hillel, the Baptist Campus Fellowship and the Baha’i Faith are also under the domain of the association.
The CMA works closely with the Newman Center to help host events. These events include Sunday masses and Bible study groups as well as interfaith dinners and larger fundraising events.
Christine Marino, campus minister, said that it’s not just the mass that helps student connect to one another.
After the 8 p.m. masses on Sundays, the Newman Center hosts meetings with food and drinks. These meetings serve as an opportunity to both meet new people and reunite with friends.
“It’s basically a platform for students to meet and connect with people that might not have a chance to otherwise,” Marino said. “A lot of students get excited about that because they get to see people that they wouldn’t normally get to see on campus during the week.”
Aside from their work within the church, the CMA offers a lot of service opportunities for anyone who is interested.
“This year, we’re working with Compass House, which is a home for runaways who are under 18,” Marino said. “We have a commitment with them once a month, we’re going to make dinner for their residents.”
They also work with the University Heights collaborative. All programming is open to everybody, not just members of the clubs or organizations affiliated with CMA.
“A lot of how people hear about us is mouth-to-mouth, student-to-student. They’re our best ambassadors really,” said Father Jack Ledwon, a pastor at St. Joseph University Parish.
According to Father Jack, approximately 250-300 people attend mass on the weekends.
“We try to make the 8 p.m. mass maybe a little more applicable to the students and what they’re going through,” Father Jack said. “But the scripture remains the same for all the masses.”
Father Jack believes that people in this point of their lives are searching for and re-examining traditional values and religion. He said that maybe students came from a Catholic high school or maybe their parents were a bit more structured in terms of their faith.
Father Jack also thinks that they come to mass because their family went. Now, these students are more independent because they are off on their own. They make the decision of going to mass because they want to and not because their family is.
“So it’s more of a personal decision,” Father Jack said. “It’s a time where many [students] need to assess what their faith is going to mean to them. They may even take a break or step away for a while.”
Students can choose to be involved in a variety of the groups and organizations affiliated with CMA, depending on when they can attend meetings and what they are most interested in. Not all religious groups are affiliated with the association, such as Brothers and Sisters In Christ (BASIC), which is a club through the SA.
Molly Hamill, a senior mathematics major, has attended BASIC meetings because she likes the familiar feel of them.
“I go to BASIC almost every Monday – they’re like my little family. I feel comfortable there, and I feel bad if I miss a meeting, because it’s like missing hanging out with my friends.”
No matter which organization, there are so many to choose from that are affiliated with religion. The CMA office is right in the Student Union and offers information for any student interested in joining.
Dan McKeon contributed reporting on this piece.
Tori Roseman is the senior features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.