SNE Fuels New Jersey's First Season of Mission

SNE Fuels New Jersey's First Season of Mission

The school year is now in full swing and the 2017-2018 Missionary Corps (made up of Missionaries and student leaders) have been working hard to reach as many new students as possible. In New Jersey, at both Seton Hall University and Rutgers University, the first few opening weeks of school are dedicated to an intense season of “reach” - a time in the mission when the goal is to meet as many students as possible in hopes that they come to know Christ through the SPO community.

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The Best Place for a Man to Live

By Pat Stucker, Mission Leader, Rutgers University

The Saint Paul's Outreach Men’s Household is the best place for a man to live during his time of college.  

There, I said it. No holds barred.

If Household could speak, it would say enthusiastically on behalf of each man, “My life is not my own.”  Here at Rutgers University, the Household men are on a mission.  From hosting parties for over 100 people, to sharing a family style dinner with a few new guests, to taking a fellow student on a Sunday hike, we walk the same mission - to invite people into a relationship with us and with Jesus Christ.  

The Men’s Household at Rutgers has been in the running for three years, and we been fortunate to inherit the faithfulness of the men who have lived in the Households before us. This year’s Household has decided to build further upon this faithful foundation.  From making a man cave out of our living room (ping pong table and all), to learning how to make some mean breakfasts using a cast-iron skillet, the men of Household have created a refuge of brotherhood which is life giving for both ourselves and all of the guests who walk into our home.

Household has become the place where men want to be, a place where men can live out their faith freely, and a place where they don’t have to worry about looking perfect or overly-pious. Men can truly be themselves here.  What we have in Household is the best way of life that can be lived on the campus; one in which we are brothers together, on a mission for the Gospel and laying down our lives in service so that others may truly live.

The men in Household are not just the future leaders of the Church.  They are not just the future fathers of our families, not just the future pastors of our parishes, not just the future owners of our businesses.  They are not just the Church of the future.  They are the Church, now.  I believe with great hope that the men of Household at Rutgers University and the Households across the country will renew the faith from cafeteria-Catholicism to an intentional Catholic way of living, integrating faith into everything we do.  Thanks be to God!

The Men of Rutgers University foster brotherhood on campus through Men's Nights.

The Men of Rutgers University foster brotherhood on campus through Men's Nights.

Dr. Dan Keating Delves into "The True Cost of Discipleship" at New Jersey's Formation Retreat

On November 11 and 12, the Catholic Student Association at Rutgers and Saint Paul’s Outreach came together to put on the Fall Formation Retreat at Saint Paul Inside the Walls in Madison, NJ. The retreat’s theme was “The True Cost of Discipleship.”

129 total participants attended the retreat, 59 of which were students who are involved in Saint Paul’s Outreach at Seton Hall. A majority of these students are committed to the Formation Program - a program for formation in Christian living which includes a bi-weekly teaching, small groups, and regular one-on-one pastoral mentoring.

During the retreat, Dr. Daniel Keating, a professor at Sacred Heart Seminary and a man dedicated to evangelization, gave a series of talks about discipleship. The talks examined life that is lived in discipleship to Christ. Keating challenged the participants to face the obstacles to discipleship in their lives and hold nothing back as they give their lives Jesus Christ. His teachings were practical and woven into the witness of discipleship in his own life. Keating concluded that a life of discipleship is truly an adventure with Christ.

Jen Holbieka, a Sophomore at Seton Hall shares what she took away from the Keating’s teachings about discipleship:

This retreat was one that I was originally hesitant about attending. I honestly wasn’t expecting the retreat to impact me in the way it did.

In Keating’s talk, “Obstacles to Discipleship,” I found myself facing different obstacles to my relationship with God. From anxiety to low self-esteem to having fears of the future, I nodded vigorously and took notes as Dan Keating discussed how these obstacles hinder us from our relationship with our Father. The road to peace from these obstacles is found through offering them God and prayer.

In “Ventures of Faith,” Keating illustrated and named four ways people live their lives: the Ideal Castle, the Obstacle Course, the Slug, and the Great Adventure. Once again, I found bits and pieces of myself in all the aspects of the talk: how I have built an idealized future with my goals, how I see each day as an “obstacle” of hurdles, and how sometimes I get lost in lack of hope when I let minute problems overcome me. But at the end of the talk I yearned for the great Adventure with God. It was refreshing to remind myself that our lives can be abundantly joyful and adventurous, if lived Christ.

What continues to resonate with me is that I don’t have to be “worthy enough” or at perfect place in my life to turn to God—God has his arms open and ready to embrace me as I am today. God accepts me with all my faults and brokenness and wants me to turn to Him. He yearns for us to delve deeper in our relationship with Him.

The retreat ended with a prayer meeting Saturday night. Retreatants gathered for a time of praise and worship and Eucharistic Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. This time of prayer allowed retreatants to bring all they had been learning and wrestling with to the Lord and to ask for his grace to live out his call to discipleship.

Dave Miller, a Junior at Seton Hall shares about his experience:

As we approached the prayer meeting, I expected praise and worship and adoration to be the same as always. How God proved me wrong! During the prayer meeting, Pat Stucker prayed over me for an openness to God in a few particular areas in my life. I also asked for the grace to be open during adoration because I felt that there was something between me and God. Pat asked God to work in freedom and God certainly responded. I have not experienced the Lord working so powerfully in my life than I did on Saturday Night. I experienced such a deep sense of God as my Father and that brought so much joy to me. I learned so much during the retreat, but I especially learned to never underestimate the Lord’s power through prayer and Eucharistic adoration.

Overall, the retreat was a powerful experience different communities coming together to learn about discipleship and worship the Lord together. Students and young professionals were challenged to hold nothing back, dive into the adventure, and give all of their lives to Christ for the rest of their lives.

Friends: The Surest Way to Heaven

By Michela Brooks

Friendship is a topic I have been reflecting on a lot lately. Maybe it's the time of year. Friends are moving on. After seeing each other every day for 9 months you say goodbye for the summer. You finally have time to reflect on the friendships you have made since you came on campus. You are looking forward to seeing old friends back home. All of these things and more have led me to reflect on my friendships and God's purpose for them in our lives. 

I have learned a lot about friendship and it's importance in our lives this year. Some of these lessons have been learned through being a good friend, and others have been learned through failing at friendship. However the lesson was learned, I'm glad it was.

Lesson 1: Friends rejoice in one another's joys, and mourn one another's sorrows. This lesson is pretty simple, and biblical (Mat 5:4) but so necessary in friendship! A priest told me this year, "Friends are two bodies and one soul." They should mourn with one another, rejoice with one another. In the little victories (Yay! You got an A on that exam!!) and in the big spiritual victories (Wow! It is beautiful to see you so faithful to your daily prayer!), we should be rejoicing with one another! And when our friends fall we should mourn with them. If it's spiritually falling, pray for them. Doing a small penance for their sin or failure is a beautiful gift to give someone. Moral of the story: their victories are your victories, and their faults are your faults and vice versa!

Lesson 2: Close friends are a gift from God. Sounds super simple (and obvious), but truly they are. Last year was an interesting year for me where I had built a lot of friendships, but not a lot of close friendships. I said a prayer at the end of the year asking God for a companion the next year. And you know what? He answered my prayer! He gave me an amazing friend and companion this year. It's the friends who know you (too) well, who can tell you when you are being ridiculous, who just likes being with you (even if you're not doing anything interesting) that are truly gifts from God. It's not always rainbows and butterflies in those friendships but it's those friendships that make you the best version of yourself. 

Which leads me to the last lesson... 

Lesson 3: Friends are the surest way to heaven. Not because they tell you how holy you are or because they make you so happy all the time and you just want to love Jesus more. No. More accurately, relationships (friendships specifically) show us the parts of ourselves that we don't like, the parts that are less-than holy, the parts only the people who know us really well can see. They are the sandpaper to our rough edges that help to smooth us out, purify our hearts and rid us of our self-centeredness.

I am so grateful for all of my friendships this past year (both near and far) that have helped me to become more of the woman that God wants me to become. As the summer begins and the new school year approaches, I will be praying for all of my friendships that they would be centered on Christ and others, and lead to our eternal home.

He is the True Artist

By Daniel Folta, Sophomore, Seton Hall University

Ever since I realized my potential at the Art Academy of Hillsborough, I have always aspired to be a professional artist. After two years of weekly classes, I spent my gap year in the academy’s full time program, where I spent a minimum of thirty hours a week honing my skills in oil painting. Since then I have been producing portraits for my clients while studying at Seton Hall’s Business School.

The NJ Men’s Household have been very supportive of me in this, and are helping me set up a studio in the house. Living with them has been a huge blessing to me both with my relationship with God and as a fine artist.

But I would be more aptly named a “copier,” not an “artist,” because what I paint has already been formed by the true Artist, who is God. My work is merely a rough renditioning of His. The more I learn about classical painting, the more I can delve into the intricacies of God’s handiwork. I have been so blessed to be able to start a career that studies and gives back to the glory of God in this way.