Incoming college freshmen, while excited, often find themselves faced with uncertainty and challenges, according to Tim Taylor, director of the Newman Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Staying connected to their faith can positively impact students’ academic, social and emotional health, he said.
“Getting involved at your college’s Newman Center offers a great way to make really good friends,” said Taylor. “Many students are looking for a place where they feel they belong and we are here to make them feel at home while helping to ease the transition into college.”
The transition into college, though, is sometimes a difficult one, said Taylor. “Normal routines are different and your lives are much more fragmented,” he said. “It’s hard for students to find time to read scriptures, attend Mass and pray.”
The Newman Center at SIUC works to provide routine for new and continuing students. The center celebrates Mass, offers bible study sessions and small group faith circles on a regular basis. Students can also attend retreats both locally and nationally.
“One of the things we also do is introduce peer ministers to new students,” said Taylor. “That way, students can relate to other students during their faith journey.”
The effects of remaining active has both practical and spiritual benefits, said Taylor. “The educational advantage is that students who are involved on campus are more likely to stay enrolled,” he said. “Even more so, college students active in the Catholic faith are more likely to be active Catholics in adulthood.”
The faith journey for the SIUC Newman Center begins the Sunday before classes with a “Welcome Back” barbecue. Father Robert Flannery will celebrate Masses each Sunday at 11:15 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.