Bishop visits George Mason University Campus ministry

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George Mason University students and alumni welcomed Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge to the campus ministry’s weekly supper social in Fairfax Feb. 23. The Philadelphia native enjoyed mingling with the students and exchanging some friendly banter with Philadelphia Eagles and Redskins fans during his first visit to the ministry.

Instead of giving a prepared speech, the bishop said a few words about growing up as a Catholic in Philadelphia and his role as the bishop of Arlington. He then opened the floor up for questions from the students. 

It was good to hear how he lives out his faith as the bishop and does it with so much joy.

While there were a couple of inquiries about his Philadelphia Eagles loyalty and his opinion on where to get the best cheesesteak in Philly, there also were several thought-provoking questions. The university is known for its diversity and many of the students had questions about how to foster relationships with other faith denominations. He encouraged the students to pursue dialogue with their friends, classmates and professors of all different faiths but to challenge each other as well. He recognized the difficulties that can arise on campus when the faith is attacked.

“Speaking the truth in class can kind of be like martyrdom. It means you have to stand out, to separate yourself,” said Bishop Burbidge. “We really need you to do that, to be witnesses and show your joy in doing it. What is going to attract people the most is your joy and serenity.”

Another student asked the bishop for ways to rekindle one’s prayer life. He first encouraged them not to panic, and he assured them that it was normal to go through periods of “staleness.” He suggested that the students try simple prayers that they have known their whole lives while also making time for 10 minutes of quiet every day.

With Lent around the corner, many students were interested in hearing any tips the bishop had for them. Bishop Burbidge suggested starting out the penitential season by going to confession. He also cited the church’s long tradition of prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent, but encouraged the students to take Lent day by day as opposed to weeks at a time. He also suggested that Lent was a good time to share their many talents with others.

As a token of the students’ appreciation for his visit, Student Campus Minister Kami Beliard presented the bishop with a Catholic Patriots T-shirt and hat that he promised to wear proudly.

“I think his talk helped the community see the authenticity of a bishop,” said Beliard. “It was good to hear how he lives out his faith as the bishop and does it with so much joy.”

Buy photos from the visit: catholicherald.smugmug.com

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017