By Ashley Bowden
Finding a group of people who share the same interests and beliefs on campus might be tough for some students. For those who are searching for a sense of community, members of the campus Catholic Ministry extend their welcome to any and all who may be interested. “We’re here, and you don’t have to be Catholic to come and talk to us,” Felicia Viscusi campus minister, said.
The Newman club meets weekly to discuss the Bible and God. Viscusi serves as the advisor and leads meetings, and she is open to what members want to talk about. The club meets on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. “It’s a very open social environment and it gives a different atmosphere than what we’re used to,” Jack Tomlinson, freshman physical education and health major, said.
“It’s a great place to meet other people who are equally interested in Christ, find likeminded Catholics on campus and have a good time,” Cassidy O’Brien, sophomore musical theatre major, said.
“Since being here, I feel a lot more enlightened with God,” Tomlinson said. He attributes much of his positive experience to Father Michael Duffy, the Catholic Chaplain on campus. Through his homilies, Tomlinson said he’s been closer to and open with his faith. Duffy makes his spiritual addresses relatable for college students.
“It’s hard to fully understand the Bible, [but] when it’s compared to us in a similar lifestyle that we live in, it’s very easily understandable,” Tomlinson said.
September 2018 marked Duffy’s third year working on campus to lead or offer mass, hear confessions and assist students and faculty spiritually. He is the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Malverne, N.Y. “I’m here for you, if there’s anything that I can do for any student, Catholic or not, [I’m] somebody confidential to talk to,” Duffy said.
Viscusi works full-time Sunday through Thursday as the campus minister. She leads the ministry in rosary prayers, Bible study and she initiated a women’s group. She provides a space in Interfaith Center office B for students to come for counseling. Viscusi plans events such as mission trips and prayer groups.
“We are here to help you and let you know that God wants to be a part of your life,” Duffy said.
Members of the Catholic community on campus have been able to bond with one another through fellowship, events and activities. “People in our Newman club and campus ministry [come] from all different majors and backgrounds,” Viscusi said. “But when you’re all rooted in the same commitment and love of Christ, it’s easy to build relationships off of that.”
“It’s been amazing meeting new people and getting connected with our faith,” Neil Feminella, graduate student, said. He enjoyed doing volunteer work with the ministry in 2016 and 2017 to make sandwiches for the homeless and deliver them throughout New York City.
“At any age, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed and stressed and feel alone to say the least, and when you’re with God, you’re never alone,” Tomlinson said. “I think that’s a beautiful feeling to have, to know that there’s always someone there beside you.”
The ministry offers two retreats during the school year for a weekend of “faith, fellowship and fun,” according to Viscusi. From Oct. 19- 21, they will combine with the Catholic ministry at Adelphi University to visit Mt. Alvernia in Centerport, N.Y. where attendees can anticipate opportunities for prayer, mass, adoration, reflection on faith and various activities. The retreats provide a chance for students to meet other Catholics in their peer group. In April, the ministry will travel with ministries from Adelphi University, Hofstra University and Stony Brook University to the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, N.Y.
Masses are held in the Interfaith Center chapel every Wednesday and Sunday at 8 p.m. The sacraments of the Catholic Church are observed, including the Eucharist. Food is always served afterwards.
“The best part about mass here is that you truthfully feel as close to God as you possibly can,” Tomlinson said.