This is from a 1997 tour of Ireland of the Notre Dame Folk Choir and it was their last song of the tour. I'm not a grad but I've always admired the student's and their dedication to the liturgy. You can see the realization from some of the seniors that it's all over--they won't be singing together after this moment. Look at the faces of these young lads and see the exchanges of hugs and the hand holding and the tears shed. This is a Campus Minister's dream to forge such a bond.
In many ways they bring me back to my own college days at Fordham when I was part of the Emmaus Retreat Team with their campus ministry. I'm beginning to put together retreat teams in Buffalo and I hope I can create a similar bond like the one that was created amongst my classmates. I can remember after leading a year's worth of retreats (6 in total), that our student team members travelled up to our retreat house for one final evening together. We held hands as we prayed and sang and laughed and remembered a great year, a year that would not have been the same without the experience of being "on the road to Emmaus."
While the miles separate me from many of those people, I'm in touch with almost all of them to this day. They clearly made a difference in my life as a Catholic, as a minister today and as someone who hopes to make a difference in the lives of others. I've been a retreat director for years and have had strong bonds with many of the team members but none could ever equal the kind of bond that we had that wonderful Senior Year of college at Fordham. It's hard to equal the kind of bond we had living in close proximity and then sharing on such a deep level with one another.
Have you had a group like that in your life? A grouo that was so tightly connected that you almost couldn't think of doing something without calling at least one of them and even today when you get back together with them, it is like the hours were few since you last got together. Who are those people in your life that touched you so deeply and brought you to that place where you realized that not only were you there with one another but you were there with Christ?
Your humble blogger is Mike Hayes, a well-known expert in the world of young adult ministry (20s and 30s) in the Catholic Church. Mike is the author of Googling God (Paulist, 2007) where he explores both the chaotic world that young people live in and their religious reactions to that world. He also explores the age of instant gratification and how churches can respond to the needs of the young adult age by using technology alongside more traditional ministry methods.
Mike founded the award winning BustedHalo.com® in 2001 and continues to contribute to it as the editor of their catechetical section appropriately named Googling God.
Recently, he left BustedHalo® to focus on more direct ministry with young people at St Joseph University Parish as a Campus Minister for the South Campus at the University at Buffalo.
He has only two loves: his adorable wife, Marion and a nine pound chihuahua named Haze, who still find him amusing enough to let them live in their home.