More than 120 professional campus ministers and student leaders from 23 college and universities — representing Catholic institutions and Catholic campus ministries at public schools — nationwide are at the University of San Diego through June 9 for the Campus Ministry Leadership Institute (CMLI) conference.
Participants arrived Tuesday for an orientation, but Wednesday marked the first full day of the program. The opening liturgy was held in Founders Chapel and Diocese of San Diego’s Coadjutor Bishop Cirilo Flores was on hand for it. Monsignor Daniel Dillabough, USD vice president of University Mission and Ministry, joined Bishop Flores for the mass and welcomed all participants.
One particularly powerful sign of unity among the represented schools, including those from California, Colorado and as far away as Princeton University, Cleveland State and Pennsylvania’s Gwynedd-Mercy College, was the processional at the beginning of Wednesday’s mass. Two team members from each college represented approached the front of the altar to add holy water to the main stoup.
The conference features morning and evening prayers, leadership activities, time for campus ministry teams to work on a project of their own design, faith sharing and socials. Participants will be using spaces throughout campus for their various activities.
One highlighted event and an off-campus experience is Friday’s trip to the United States-Mexico border area, said USD Associate University Minister and CMLI Conference Site Coordinator Erin Bishop, “to explore immigration and border security as a faith-based social justice issue.”
Bishop said the short trip to Friendship Park — USD’s campus is only 20 miles from the border — will engage students about the issue, one that Catholic bishops have been vocal about. Discussion sparked by the visit will follow upon their return to campus.
This conference, one of two to be held this month, enables CMLI, which was developed through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral letter, Empowered by the Spirit, realize its objectives.
The institute is designed to produce effective leaders who work collaboratively to develop and implement successful Catholic Campus Ministry programs on college campuses, both private and public. The CMLI, according to its website, lists five major goals: Ground participants’ understanding of leadership in the context of Catholic faith and discipleship; provide students and ministers with a “big picture” perspective of campus ministry; Develop or improve a project that will be ready to implement upon returning home; Learn and practice collaborative campus ministry team skills; and, to generate and share new ideas and program possibilities through networking with other campuses.
— Ryan T. Blystone