ATHENS, Ga. — As another college term concludes, the Catholic Center at the University of Georgia is coming to the end of a busy year.
The campus ministry program offered a service event and a student-run retreat last month, according to Thomas Vigliotta, OFM, who directs the program with David Hyman, OFM.
Thomas, who has been at the university since 2005 and director of the program since 2007, is grateful to the Province friars who have visited the university to lecture. They include Xavier Seubert, OFM, William McConville, OFM, Brian Smail, OFM, and Vincent de Paul Cushing, OFM.
“As I reflect on this past year, I feel that many in the Holy Name Province have done much in the area of faith formation through lectures,” said Thomas.
A Service Weekend
Spring Alternative Weekend took place March 8 to 14 on a farm run by Glenmary priests in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. Students from the University of Georgia and Notre Dame University worked together on the farm, visited the homebound, and taught children to read. “They melted together like long-lost friends,” said Thomas.
“It was a very hands-on ministry, living under austere conditions,” he added. “They went to a Pentecostal revival and had quite an experience with a different faith.”
Limited to one shower that week, and living without a computer, TV or cell phone taught the students a lot about themselves, according to Thomas. “They found out what is essential.”
A Student-Run Retreat
The Charis Retreat took place March 21 on campus. Run by the students, the retreat at the Catholic Center was led by a graduate student, with Thomas and two sisters providing spiritual direction.
On April 18, students participated in the Catholic Center’s 31st 5K race. It is one of “our major fundraisers, making it possible for us to do outreach in the greater Athens area,” said Suzanne Bourgeois, assistant director of the center.
Over the past few months, Thomas has welcomed Xavier, William, Brian and Vincent to the center.
Last fall, Xavier discussed St. Francis through art, a subject that helped students recapture the saint’s spirit. In October, William offered a lecture on the call of forgiveness. “Using the book Amish Grace was a real challenge and inspiration to our own faith journeys,” said Thomas.
“In the spring semester, we were pleased to welcome Vincent de Paul Cushing, OFM, to our faith community. His lecture to the faculty was a major event. We had many come out in the middle of a snowstorm. Vincent never got to complete his time here because of the freak storm, but we hope to welcome him back in the fall.”
Fr. John Dear, SJ, has also lectured on his journey to justice and peace. His book, Persistent Peace, is popular at the university library, said Thomas
As part of the Lenten journey to Easter, the center also welcomed Sr. Rose Clarisse, who gave a lecture/retreat on “Fully Human, Fully Divine.”
More than 900 households comprise this active faith community, according to Thomas, who said, “probably everything that happens at an average parish happens here.”
As the college breaks for the summer, Thomas and David will dispense with the student Mass on Sundays, and look forward to another active fall semester.