Connecting with Christ through campus ministry

Campus ministry at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria oversees the spiritual formation of students, faculty and the school community. The ministry brings Christ throughout the school by helping it to “advance always” and to “be who you are and be that well.”

In a sense, campus ministry started when the school was founded in 1964. Back then, the spiritual program was headed by the Oblates who lived at the school. When the Oblates left nine years ago, Father Edwin E. Perez, currently parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Lake Ridge, became the first diocesan priest to serve as Ireton’s chaplain. Father Edward J. Bresnahan is the current chaplain.

In addition to Father Bresnahan, the other leader in campus ministry is Jennifer Blair, assistant campus minister. Dozens of others contribute their time and talent to campus ministry, from the math teacher who chaperones a Camden Retreat to a student who leads their class in the direction of intention. With so much to do, it's better when the whole school pitches in.

Ireton has many clubs and groups connected to campus ministry. There are six Salesian Leadership Team members who work with campus ministry on retreats (such as the advisory retreat). They are Conrad Lakso, Ann Johnson, Eleanor Burling, Carl Undersander, Hannah Hermann, and Liam McHugh.
Ireton sponsors the Catholic Witness/Pro-Life Club, which is headed up by Sofi Driscoll and Hannah Hermann. Ireton also works with the Camden Ministry Club, Kairos Leaders and “The A-Team” which all help Father Bresnahan set up and serve at Mass, and help with other clubs.

The goal of campus ministry at Ireton is to challenge people and bring them to Jesus. Father Bresnahan, inspired by St. John Bosco (the partron saint of people who work with youths, is particularly inspired by the quote, “If you want to be loved … you must love yourselves, and make your children feel that you love them.” Father Bresnahan said, “We try to do just that by meeting students, parents, faculty, alumni and other community members at places they love because in campus ministry we know that if we meet people where they are, they'll talk to us about the things we want to share with them. I've had a lot of conversations about God on the sidelines of sports games. It's amazing because simply being present to people reminds them that there's always an open door in campus ministry.”

 The campus ministry is getting busy this time of year, logging community service hours, planning for the upcoming Camden retreats and getting things organized for the Karios retreat later this year. Plans are underway for the upcoming Feast Week in February as well as for Lenten programs.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

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