From Student Missionaries meeting with other students one-on-one to “Discipleship Groups” meeting in college dorm rooms to SPO Households – each of these environments is marked by one word: relationships.
Just as Jesus worked with a few to reach many, so does SPO in its approach to awakening faith and bringing faith to maturity on college campuses. We believe people are not ‘evangelized’ in a vacuum or simply through events, but through a web of interpersonal connections and commitments. Friends reaching friends makes the gospel concrete and personal. We know of no other way to keep the gospel spreading through campus but to keep it moving in a relational way.
One of my favorite words, in any language, is the word ‘kerygma’. It is a Greek word that refers to the moment where the good news unique to Christianity is proclaimed and a faith filled response results in the hearer. John Paul II’s definition is the clearest definition I have come across (Kerygma is “The initial ardent proclamation of the Gospel whereby a person is one day overwhelmed and makes a decision to entrust themselves to Jesus Christ by faith.”)
Most of whom we encounter on college campuses are ‘sacramentalized, but un-evangelized’ Catholics. These are college students who have ‘received’ all the sacraments but the fullness of the truth and life that the sacraments point and deliver to them has not yet been discovered in their lives. Our first goal with all the students we work with is to awaken the faith that often lies dormant within them. This faith ‘awakening’ happens on retreats like the Fan Into Flame weekend or at weekly prayer gatherings on campus or in the midst of a bible study led by a member of the SPO Missionary Corps.
Once this faith has been awakened, our work is not over – rather it has just begun. Seeing newfound faith come to maturity is such an exciting process to watch unfold. No longer is faith lodged into air-tight compartments, but draws students to see life in Christ as an all encompassing reality. This plays out most fruitfully in our Households and Formation in Christian Living Program, as well as our Missionary Corps Training throughout the year and at SNE.