Lifting up college campus ministers

Magliocca (far left) and Father Adam Verona (seated, black cap) with FOCUS missionaries and SRU students at a bowling outing last January

With big challenges facing the Catholic Church and society, college campus ministry is needed more than ever, says a local leader who’s been tapped by a national organization to help expand the Church’s college outreach.

Diane Magliocca, the campus minister at Slippery Rock University’s Newman Center since 1994, has been named one of 11 regional ambassadors of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association for this academic year.

“Campus ministry is so important,” she said. “We have to encounter students and call out their giftedness, not just for the Church but for the world.”

Other students and the wider community need to benefit from those gifts, she said.

“I think some of the greatest challenges we face include division, isolation, anxiety/despair and complacency.”

Only a quarter of the nation’s four-year colleges and universities have Catholic campus ministry programs, said Michael St. Pierre, executive director of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association.

“To grow we need as many dynamic campus ministers as possible,” he said. “Diane is highly respected, has great energy, loves the Church and can communicate well to students, college administrators and clergy.”

As a regional ambassador for the association, Magliocca will reach out to her colleagues in the Midwest region, identifying ways to renew, motivate and equip them.

“We want to help raise up a new generation of campus ministers who can evangelize in creative and exciting ways,” St. Pierre said.

Most Slippery Rock students are taking classes online with only small number on campus. Therefore, social media platforms and one-on-one presence are crucial for building relationships, Magliocca said. However, with health safety measures in place, students are gathering for Mass, joining in small groups for Bible study and prayer, holding weekly discussions online and are planning ways to engage in community service.

“I see so much resiliency, openness to the Spirit and hopefulness in the students,” she said. “Despite the pandemic restrictions, their first reaction was to express appreciation on being able to still use the Newman Center. They are so optimistic, it renews us.”

Diane Magliocca