Monday, October 9, 2017
Cristina Cabrera Jarro
CORAL GABLES | Before it became reality, the idea for a fulltime, on campus chaplain for the University of Miami’s Catholic Campus Ministry had been the subject of ongoing discussion between the Archdiocese of Miami, St. Augustine Church in Coral Gables — which housed UM’s Catholic Campus Ministry for years — the University of Miami, and the community.
It received greater impetus from Archbishop Thomas Wenski and the results of the archdiocese’s Second General Synod, which asked for growth in ministries to youth and young adults, as well as campus ministry.
According to the archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Parish Life, 75 percent of church-going Catholic high schoolers become non-attenders and non-believers during their four years of college. With the establishment of the ministry at UM, the hope is that students will remain engaged.
“This is a great place to see if we can offer everything from the gift of presence in Father (Phillip) Tran, to relationship-building in and through the campus ministry program to reach more and more young adults so that those statistics go down,” said Stephen Colella, Cabinet Secretary of Parish Life.
Patricia Whitely, vice president for Student Affairs at UM, noted that the university is proud to partner with Archbishop Wenski and archdiocesan staff to facilitate the appointment of UM’s first fulltime Catholic priest, especially one who is a former Hurricane.
“I am confident he will be a visible presence on campus for all of our students, especially those that are Catholic,” said Whitely.
Edward Easton and his wife Amy provided the initial funding for the fulltime Catholic chaplain. He is a UM graduate and former member of the Catholic campus ministry.
“The hope is that others will also contribute to ensure that the Catholic campus ministry has a presence at the University of Miami forever,” said Katie Blanco Bordeau, archdiocesan director of Development.
Father Tran believes that this is just the tip of the spear when it comes to campus ministry. The archdiocese has a vision of not just serving UM, but Florida International University, Miami Dade College, and other local campuses.