Helping College Students Grow Their Faith.

Campus Ministry

What is College Campus Ministry?

Patti Stenson, MS, LPC
Written By Patti Stenson, MS, LPC
On May, 20 2024
7 minute read
As your student leaves home and embarks on their college journey, you may be wondering, “How can I ensure they remain close to their Catholic faith? What can I do now that they’re out of my house?” 

This is a big transition for you and your child. At Newman Connection, a lot of us are parents and understand how difficult it is as a parent to…

  • Constantly worry if they’re making the right friends
  • Battle the thought of “Did I do enough to prepare them for this next phase” 
  • Feel like there is nothing you can do to ensure your student is safe and making good choices

…we get it. To help with that, what if there was a Catholic community on their campus with like-minded people they could connect to…before they even arrive? It exists!

This is where college campus ministry comes in. In this article, we’ll define what campus ministry is, discuss the essential aspects of campus ministry, and how it is the best shot at your student keeping their faith in college.

“I met people who were truly living out their faith in an open and genuine way. I learned how to make my faith my own and that I was meant for a deeper relationship with God. I will be forever thankful for the BCC and how it changed my faith life in such a positive way.” - Dante, Butler Catholic Community, Butler University


Butler Catholic Community, Butler UniversityButler Catholic Community, Butler University


What is Campus Ministry?


Campus ministry is a faith-based organization that provides spiritual support and guidance to students on college campuses. It serves as a home away from home for young people seeking to grow in their faith and connect with other like-minded Catholic students.

Campus ministry is often facilitated through a parish near campus that serves both college students and families. Sometimes, the ministry operates as a university student organization that meets in a dedicated space on campus, like the student center or a multi-faith building and is led by a campus minister or chaplain. Other campus ministries have their own building or house on campus. 

The purpose of campus ministry is to create a welcoming and inclusive space where your student can encounter God's love, explore their Catholic identity, and deepen their relationship with Jesus. 


Community and Belonging


One of the best aspects of campus ministry is the opportunity it creates for students to forge meaningful connections with their peers. Think about this - within the first 72 hours upon arriving on campus, your student will meet and form relationships with people that could last through their entire college career. This is why connecting them to their campus ministry community before they even arrive on campus is crucial. 

Your student will no doubt face academic pressures, homesickness, relationship issues, and questions about identity and purpose. In times of uncertainty, campus ministry serves as a safe place where they can turn for guidance, encouragement, and prayer


Spiritual Growth and Formation

Through frequently attending Mass, discipleship groups, retreats, and Bible studies, your student has the chance to nurture their soul and strengthen their faith foundation in campus ministry. Campus ministry creates space for students to encounter God in meaningful ways, and to gain a deeper understanding of their beliefs so they are empowered to live out their faith in their everyday lives.

Your student will have access to peers and mentors in their campus ministry community who can walk with them as they explore their faith and address their questions and doubts.

Through workshops where they can explore and learn about the different vocations (priesthood, religious life, and marriage), spiritual direction, or discernment retreats, your student will gain the tools they need to make wise and faith-informed choices about their future.

“I've really enjoyed being a part of the Newman Association because it has led me to meet other Catholics on campus and made me feel less alone in my faith. Everyone I've met through the Newman Center is super nice and welcoming. Our meetings and weekly Mass have helped me feel close to God even when I'm away from home.” - Sophia, Newman Association, SUNY Plattsburgh


Newman Association, SUNY PlattsburghNewman Association, SUNY Plattsburgh

Character Development


Another awesome aspect of campus ministry is the character development your student will experience. Through service projects, volunteer opportunities, and outreach initiatives, your young adult will be challenged to step outside their comfort zone and engage with the needs of others. These experiences cultivate empathy, humility, and generosity. 

Experiences like volunteering at a local food pantry, participating in a mission trip, or organizing a fundraiser for a charitable cause provide a way for your student to learn valuable lessons about compassion and social responsibility.


Discipleship and Leadership Development


Campus ministry can help your student identify and develop their unique gifts and talents for service in the Church and society. Leading small groups and retreats or meeting regularly one-on-one with peers offers valuable lessons about effective communication and teamwork and prepares them for leadership roles both on and off campus.

At the heart of campus ministry is the call to discipleship—the invitation to follow Jesus and live out His teachings in our daily lives. Through prayer, worship, and service, your student is invited to deepen their relationship with God and grow in their understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.


Support and Guidance


College is a time of many “firsts” and unknowns for your student, and campus ministry provides students with the support and guidance they need to navigate all that this season of life brings. More often than not, campus ministry provides a faith community that helps them thrive academically, socially, and spiritually. 

Your student has access to spiritual directors, priests, and campus ministers who offer guidance, encouragement, and pastoral care. These mentors serve as trusted advisors and companions on their path to growing in virtue and living for Christ.

Above all, campus ministry empowers your student to face life's challenges with faith, resilience, and hope. Through the support of their faith community, they learn to trust in God's providence and embrace life's uncertainties with courage and grace. Campus ministry reminds students that they are not alone in their journey.

“The Newman Center completely changed my life! College without faith is very difficult...there are a lot of forces working against you. But having a community of Catholic friends and mentors was life-changing for me!" - Brandon, St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center, University of New Mexico


St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center, University of New Mexico

St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center, University of New Mexico


You can feel confident and relieved knowing that campus ministry will provide your child with the resources, guidance, and faith community they need to navigate the challenges and opportunities of college life and beyond.

Here’s how you can support your student

  1. See If Your Student’s College Has a Campus Ministry

Use our Find A Campus tool to discover the campus ministry on your student’s future college campus. You can learn more about what the campus ministry offers, find a worship schedule, and connect your student directly to the campus ministry staff.

  1. Connect your student to the next step in their faith journey.

Did you know that over 80% of students stop practicing their faith in college? One of the top reasons for this is because the student didn’t receive an invitation!

Let’s make sure your graduate gets that invitation!


Together, we can empower young people to grow in their faith, live out their Catholic values, and make a difference in the world.

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