|Blo-No students keeping faith|
|Written by Jennifer Novoseletsky, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Thursday, 13 September 2012 13:32|
According to the Huffington Post, once college students leave home, their religious beliefs are negatively affected.
However, contrary to the recent report, students in the Bloomington-Normal area continue believing in their faith.
Though students at ISU may not be a part of a religious group or RSO, that does not mean they are not still believing in whatever religion or faith they believed in at home, the Rev. Susan Ryder, United Campus Christian Foundation Campus minister and co-pastor at New Covenant Community, explained.
At the Newman Center on Main Street, the number of students participating grows annually, Father Peter Zorjan, chaplain of the John Paul II Catholic Newman Center, said.
“I would argue, at least with our case here at Newman, we’re actually growing and we’re growing a lot,” he said.
The Newman Center currently holds enough seats for 275 to 300 students to celebrate Mass, Father Zorjan said.
Ash Wednesday, being the busiest day of the year, has 1,500 to 1,800 students walking in and out of the Newman Center. There are also six hours worth of confessions, he added.
The Religious Center on campus also sees different faces coming in and out of the doors each day.
“[Students participate in a] variety of activities, but most often there are opportunities to attend worship, do Bible study, hang out, eat, play games, watch movies — a whole host of activities go on there during the school year, including a Super Bowl watching party in February each year,” Ryder explained.
A number of students go to the Religious Center or to the Newman Center for support. Many students come and ask for others to pray for them, Father Zorjan said.
“Many students grew up in youth groups at their home churches, so a campus ministry can offer a sense of family, a ‘home away from home,’” Ryder added. “Campus ministries offer a safe space for students to explore their spirituality by asking questions and struggling with beliefs they may be conflicted about.”
It is also important to note that the Newman Center and the Religious Center are only two places out of several in the area with hundreds of students using both facilities before others.
College students are actually more willing to use these centers than people living in the town.
“The participation of town people at Mass is only about maybe 10 percent,” Father Zorjan said. “About 90 percent of people here are students. Now it’s important to know our center here doesn’t just serve ISU, we also serve Wesleyan and Heartland [Community] College.”
At the end of the day, it really comes down to what each individual believes, Ryder explained.
“The additional freedom of being a college student allows young adults to make their own choices, test boundaries and explore life options in new ways,” she said.
“This doesn’t mean they aren’t [spiritual, it] just means they are creating their own ways of exploring their options and analyzing what they may have been taught growing up against the realities of life they are experiencing now,” she added.