Friar Recognized for South Florida Campus Ministry

Roy Gasnick, OFM Features

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Because of Mario Di Lella, OFM, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, has fulfilled a longstanding need since its founding in 1965: a Catholic Campus Ministry.

At the end of the Catholic Campus Ministry’s successful initial year, Mario was awarded a framed plaque reading: “Student Organization Adviser of the Year 2008-2009.” This award was presented to him at the annual Student Involvement and Leadership Awards Banquet in April.

“This prestigious award,” Mario said, “is really a recognition of the dedicated work of all the students in our ministry. The ministry is now well prepared to make its presence known once again during its ‘sophomore year.’”

Mario began his second year as campus minister last month, assisted by two highly-motivated young Catholic students.

At designated tables during three recent welcoming events for the 2009-2010 academic year, Mario and the students handed out attractive brochures emphasizing that the mission of the Catholic Campus Ministry was to pray (through Mass), to study (Bible) and to play (social events). Other handouts were USFSP Catholic Campus Ministry logo-ed prayer cards with the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, a campus ministry wallet-sized information card and a flyer about the campus ministry’s Mass and weekly meetings.

This year, Mario hopes to further expand the ministry’s outreach program.

“Last year,” he said, “one of our projects was to distribute handmade Christmas cards to the kids in All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.” For another project, he said, “The students distributed prayer cards on the city streets to anyone who wished to have one.”

“On one Sunday afternoon,” Mario said, “our students helped out the poor and needy at the St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen. During this fall semester, we plan to increase this service to once a month.”

“I had two wonderful student leaders to work with,” Mario continued, “Brittany Lyp, our president, and Casey McGauran, our vice president. Last year, because of their undaunted efforts, Catholic Ministry at USF St. Petersburg became an officially recognized University entity. Among other things, this recognition made our ministry eligible for student government funds.”

The USFSP Catholic Campus Ministry is officially a ministry of St. Mary, Our Lady of Grace Parish (staffed by TOR friars). The church, located not far from our St. Anthony Friary where Mario resides, is on the edge of the USFSP campus. The campus ministry events are listed each week in its parish bulletin.

Mario has a background of 38 years of campus ministry at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

— Fr. Roy, a resident of St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, is former communications director of Holy Name Province. He founded the Communications Office in 1969.