By Catherine Sullivan, Middle Level Campus Minister
It usually happens on a Wednesday.
The rush of Middle Level students heading downstairs for lunch, followed by a brief calm. Then slowly, one by one, a girl in a blue dress and saddle shoes pops her head into my classroom. Each asks the same question, politely and sincerely, “Is this where the meeting is?”
Throughout this school year on an almost weekly basis, Middle Level students have brought their lunches to my classroom—French fries, cookies, and all—to spend their one break during the day designing ways for our community to grow closer to God.
Middle Level Campus Ministry has taken a variety of forms over the years, but the goal has always been the same. Reflect. Discuss. Inspire. Grow. Give the students leadership skills, confidence, and a glimpse of God’s love that they can take with them when they leave our cozy hallway.
This year, the Middle Level students have taken this opportunity and run with it.
Near the end of our very first meeting this year, at which over 50 Middle Level students were present, I gave the girls the opportunity to sign up for one of a variety of “teams”—the Chapel Team, which plans our Middle Level Monday morning prayer services in the Chapel, the Advent Team, which helped coordinate prayer and service opportunities before Christmas, and the Liturgy Team, which pulled off a full Mass for the entire school, to name a few—and I literally had to scurry to the opposite side of the room in order to avoid getting trampled.
Regardless of what team you are on, our meetings usually involve 10 or so students that represent all three middle level grades, an agenda packed with brainstorming, reflecting, reading and writing, and food—lots and lots of food.
During the months of February and March, the Lent Team has been hard at work. At the beginning of the season, this group was responsible for writing a short prayer for each morning of Lent. These prayers have been used by middle level advisors as they lead their students in prayer at the beginning of each school day. Now, the Lent Team is putting together the pieces of a prayer service that will take place during Holy Week in front of the entire school.
When asked why she wanted to join the Lent Team, Charlotte Doyle, a current NDP 8th grader, said, “I knew I wanted to be a part of Campus Ministry in some way. [Being part of the Lent Team] has taught me more about what Lent is about.”
By the end of this school year, about one-third of all NDP Middle Level students will have participated in Campus Ministry in some way. No one is requiring them or forcing them to do this. Like athletics, it is an entirely voluntary activity. But the draw is the same: students want to feel like they are part of a community, they want to be leaders in their school, they want to learn and grow.
Indeed, the best part of Campus Ministry is the camaraderie that is created among the students. 8th graders help 6th graders write prayers. Girls from different friend groups collaborate to brainstorm the right theme for a prayer service. Students from all different grades come together to embrace umoja in a real and visible way. In doing so, they create a tiny community that is a veritable force for good in our school, our city, and our world. Each week, I feel humbled and honored to work with them.