Program Promotes Spirituality in Residence Halls

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

An initiative sponsored by the Housing Office and the Chaplaincy aims to strengthen the adult presence in undergraduate life with the addition of resident and peer ministers to campus housing.

Since the program began as a pilot project last year, the number of resident ministers in Main and Newton campus residence halls has risen to six. In addition, four peer ministers - recent graduates of Boston College or other Catholic academic institutions - are now living in residence halls.

The ministers serve as confidants and counselors, helping students explore their spirituality, reflect on their experiences, and consider their professional and personal futures. They also arrange Masses and meet with residence hall directors and assistants to discuss their work.

Administrators say the program represents a contemporary approach to cura personalis (care of the whole person).

"We hope to help undergraduates be more aware of, and take interest in, the range of possibilities for growth and change that college offers," said Housing Director Robert Capalbo. "This includes the possibility of spiritual growth, and for a Catholic and Jesuit institution like BC, that is a primary mission."

Capalbo added that while the program initially is focusing on first-year students, the eventual goal is to provide the ministry to undergraduates in all classes.

"We try to collaborate with Housing staff as needed," said Chaplain Paula Norbert, who lives in Williams Hall. "We're not there to create programs so much as serve as a resource, to be available for student retreats, music ministries, volunteer efforts, or simply for conversation."

The peer ministers, being closer in age to the undergraduates, also play a valuable role, administrators say. They are experienced in social justice, volunteer and community service activities.

Welch Hall peer minister Jeffrey Glover sees his relationship with students as an ideal combination of big brother and friend.

"I think they feel a need to go beyond their classmates or roommates to talk about what's going on in their lives, and although I'm still a young guy I have a certain perspective they haven't attained yet," Glover said.

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