In his second full year as director of Campus Ministry, Nicholas López is working to make students’ spirituality a more vital part of the UD community. Weekday resident-led Liturgy of the Hours prayers in the freshman dorms is the first initiative in this effort.
The Office of Campus Ministry sought to introduce a form of communal prayer on campus that wasn’t based in the Church of the Incarnation alone, according to López. López and his team decided to organize the program this semester, after conducting qualitative interviews and research polls last year.
There are between four and seven resident ministry leaders in each hall, all freshmen students who volunteered for the positions at the beginning of this semester. This excludes Clark Hall, where the program has not yet been implemented. In their prominent leadership roles, these students commit to 7:30 a.m. or 7:30 p.m. shifts throughout the week, and lead their fellow residents in the prayer in the dorm lounges.
“It’s a great way to begin your day … with people in your community in prayer,” López said.
One of the resident ministry leaders is freshman business and Spanish major Max McCabe. McCabe leads residents of Madonna Hall in prayer every Monday and Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m.
“[Leading other students in prayer] helped strengthen my faith life on campus by adding regular prayer into my schedule,” McCabe said. “I love the work. I think it gives me a really good opportunity to grow in my faith and help others do the same.”
Hearing about this newly-implemented program, senior biology major Abigail Sequeira regrets that she did not have access to a group form of prayer during her own time in Jerome Hall.
“I feel like I could have [more] easily gotten into that routine [of prayer in my dorm] than I would have attending a weekly meeting [at Campus Ministry functions held elsewhere on campus],” said Sequeira. “I am really sad that we didn’t have that when we were freshmen.”
For López, this reaction is one of the reasons he is so glad to have introduced this program to the campus. A UD alum, he remembers a time when each residence hall had a very unique identity, and he believes that encouraging students to pray with one another before and after class can bolster the community that each hall can potentially cultivate.
Some large Catholic universities, such as the Catholic University of America or Notre Dame, have full-functioning chapels and onsite chaplains for their dormitories, but this is simply not the case at UD, according to López. Campus Ministry encourages students to get to know one another and share their faith as they do so, and adding more programming to the halls may be the first step in affecting the culture of the school.
López hopes to add programs that include lectures, adoration and feast day celebrations for each hall’s patron saint, as well as Campus Ministry events held in the dorms themselves. He has already teamed up with the Residence Hall Association to put on two events this past week: “Unwind your Mind” on the west side of campus, and “Praising and Raising Cane’s” on the east.
Lopez recognizes that this kind of Campus Ministry programming is still in its pilot stages, and encourages suggestions to increase its outreach. The freshmen turnout to the Liturgy of the Hours, especially for the morning prayer, isn’t always ideal, but López believes that this can change.
“The prayer is relatively short,” McCabe said. “It would be really great if we could have more people join us in the mornings and afternoons.”
Anyone near the dorms who is interested in attending these prayers on campus is welcome to participate, according to López. Since every freshman hall on the east and west side of campus prays the same prayer at the same time, this ministry has already begun to encourage a sense of unity across the campus.
“The best kind of ministry is when it is done as a community,” López said.
López hopes that the student body will continue to respond in favor of Campus Ministry’s efforts to help the university grow spiritually.