Monday, November 19, 2012

To be Thankful...

We are about to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving here in the United States, an occasion that for many involves football, family and lots of food. Whenever human beings celebrate, it tends to involve at least two of those: family and food. Even our family of faith utilizes these, including our celebration of the Eucharist. Eucharist, a word that means thanksgiving. We are a Eucharistic people, that is, a people of thanksgiving. This means that everything that we are about, that we do is in thanksgiving to God. Have you read President Lincoln’s proclamation establishing Thanksgiving? Let’s reflect on that for a moment. The nation was in the midst of the Civil War, a war that killed 2% of the nation’s population. To put that into a current day perspective, do you know someone who is a student at a 4 year private college or university? That group makes up 2% of the current American population. A bit overwhelming, isn’t it? Yet, in the midst of this national tragedy, at a point when the outcome of the War was not known, Lincoln calls upon the country to set aside a day to give thanks to God: “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union… …I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens…” (Presidential Proclamation of Thanksgiving, October 3, 1863) In the midst of such a crisis, the President was able to list the things that the country should be thankful. The challenge of this civic holiday for us who are a people of thanksgiving is simple: do we take the time the thank God for all we have, for all God has gifted to us including his love and faith, even in our times of crisis?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Register Today for the CCMA National Convention!

Magnifying Christ's Light:
Calling Forth Leaders for our Campus, Church and World

Register today for CCMA's National Convention.
The Early Bird Rate deadline is Monday, November 19. Don't pay more; register today!

Optional Convention Events
ACCU Wrap Around Meeting
The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) is hosting a wrap around meeting titled, Catholic Higher Education: Campus Ministers and Mission Officers Strengthening Catholic Mission and Identity Together. It will be held Tuesday, January 8 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The cost is $85 and includes lunch and meeting materials.
Meeting Description
There are a variety of best practices demonstrating how campus ministers and mission officers may work together for the common good. We will explore that the different ways the campus minister and the mission officer carry out their duties can help both offices improve their work and presence on campus. This wrap around is not designed to improve the campus minister’s ability to minister to students (that is a primary focus of the CCMA National Convention), but rather to focus on how Catholic mission and identity is advanced on campus cooperatively by the mission officer and the campus minister at a Catholic university.

Morning: How does the campus minister help shape and find his/her place in the institutional Catholic culture of the campus?
Afternoon: Look at a variety of different models of Campus Minister/Mission Officer working relationships on Catholic campuses. Here are a few examples:
  • The Campus Minister is the Mission Officer
  • Little to no interaction exists between the Campus Minister and Mission Officer
  • The Campus Minister reports to the Mission Officer but has little programming similarity
  • The Campus Minister and the Mission Committee are separate but work in unision
For more information contact Andy Costigan at or 202.457.0650. You may register for the ACCU Wrap Around Meeting through CCMA's website or by calling 888.714.6631.
NADDCM Meeting
The National Association for Diocesan Directors of Campus Ministry is hosting a complimentary meeting on Tuesday, January 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Meeting Description
Join NADDCM members and diocesan directors for networking and discussion of organizational business. There will be a break for lunch on your own and then more discussion on leadership and future plans.
For more information contact Kevin O'Donnell at You may register for the NADDCM meeting through CCMA's website or by calling 888.714.6631.
General Information
When: January 8-11, 2013

Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort
400 Mandalay Avenue
Clearwater Beach, FL 33767
P: 888.353.3222

Hotel Rates: $99 per night, plus tax
The Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort is offering convention attendees the rate of $99 per night plus tax for single or double occupancy. Rooms are spacious and comfortable and amenities include hair dryer, ironing board and iron, refrigerator and wireless internet service in designated areas. In-room wireless service is complimentary.  

To reserve your room, visit the link below and follow the instructions or call the reservation line at 800.753.3954. With either option, please be prepared to secure your reservation with a credit card and to provide the information below.

Group Name: CCMA 2013 National Convention
Group Code: CCMAGA
Register by November 19 and save on your registration!

Hotel Address:
400 Mandalay Avenue
Clearwater, Florida 33767

Early Bird Registration
Members $375
Non-Members $400
After November 19
Members $400
Non-Members $425

Registration rate includes: three breakfasts, one lunch, two receptions and dinner banquet, as well as convention materials.

Airports closest to the Hilton Resort are the Tampa International Airport (TPA) and the St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport (PIE). TPA is approximately 30 minutes and PIE is approximately 20 minutes from the Hilton Hotel. TPA is served by most major airlines, providing nonstop and connecting service daily, as well as offering shuttle service, rental cars and other transportation options. Visit their website at PIE is served by Alligiant Air and leaves from a limited number of cities. Visit their website at for more information.
 SuperShuttle is offering convention attendees $28 trips to Clearwater Beach. Shuttles may be found at the Tampa International Airport in the baggage claim area. To place a shuttle reservation, please visit, complete the form on the left side of the page and submit your payment information. The group code for the discount is RVV9J. You may also call SuperShuttle at 800.BlueVan (258.3826) to make your reservation.

Taxi service, buses and rental cars are also available at the airport. More information may be found at in the ground transportation section.

For more information and to register, visit the National Convention page or call the office at 888.714.6631.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Politics and Neighbors

I waited in a long line yesterday to vote in my hometown of Erie, PA.  My long wait gave me an unusual opportunity to sit still and reflect.  I experienced tremendous unity while standing in that diverse line of people.  After all of the nauseating commercials, advertisements and divisive language, there I was standing shoulder to shoulder with my neighbors preparing for the common civic duty of voting.  It was a particularly respectful and charitable public moment.  People were holding doors for one another and waiting patiently.  At that moment I was not particularly concerned about the political ideologies of the elderly woman in front of me or the young man behind me.  Our greater purpose for the day transcended the limits of our individual agendas.  As I stood in line I was reminded of the wisdom shared at a recent Theology on Tap session in my Campus Ministry, during which a political science professor reminded students that Jesus specifically asks us to love our neighbor.  “Neighbor” could be a broadly understood concept, but at its initial understanding this is about the people near us, who live next door, work in the next office, shop at the same stores, attend the same sporting events and belong to the same churches as us.  Sometimes our attention to national and international politics takes too much of our attention.  (This is not to in any way diminish the important life and social justice concerns nationally and globally which indeed merit our advocacy, time, energy and resources). 

Imagine for a moment if our primary daily consciousness centered on concretely recognize Christ as present in our neighbor.  Imagine that each student on your campus was committed to loving and caring for roommates and hall mates and that one of the foremost concerns of all departments and offices on your campus was to care for neighboring offices.  We would be a more gentle, centered and patient people.  As Catholics our politics are (or at least should be) quite clear: we are rooted in human dignity, respect for life and Catholic Social teaching and we assume a posture of love and compassion with a particular emphasis on social justice and the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves.  We cannot take this posture only to issues without applying it also to the people who daily cross our paths.

This morning Face Book is flooded with an unfortunate amount of divisive language (from those who are pleased and those who are displeased with election results).  I often find myself quite accepting of people from very different faith traditions.  But a fellow Catholic with different political leaning…this is often much harder for me to reconcile.  The national Catholic vote is once again clearly divided.  How will we model for our students a way of being firm in moral convictions without failing to treat people with dignity? Can we be divided on issues and still love each other, even respect each other?  When we gather for Eucharist we gather as a broken people seeking to be reconciled with one another and with God.  This reconciled posture is not merely meant for Sundays and Holy Days.   Let’s not leave our young people to Face Book, Twitter and profit-driven media outlets for their model of working together.  I am convinced that, with the right guidance, our young people can and will teach us how to be better neighbors and a people who, in the end, can disagree and still love one another.

Greg Baker is Director of Campus Ministry for Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA