Help each other lead students deeper into relationship with Christ
By Rachel Gleeson
Many Catholic schools have some sort of campus minister. They may be a theology teacher who organizes retreats and lock-ins on the side, a chaplain who does double-duty, a totally separate position, or even a few dedicated volunteers fulfilling the same functions. For teachers, it’s not always easy to know how to work well with your campus minister or even what they need from you.
As someone who has been a teacher, worked in campus ministry, and now serves as a youth minister working with a parish and its school, I have seen many sides of this dynamic.
What is crucial to this cooperation is understanding the role of your campus minister and being committed to helping them lead students deeper in their relationship with Christ. Here are three things you can do to benefit your partnership with your campus minister.
Truly Work Together
Working with your campus minister is key to helping your students engage with the faith. It may seem like anything related to retreats, school Masses, and service projects is “their job” but ministering to students, being Christ to them, is something we all should be doing. Being involved shows your students that these things matter to you and encourages them.
Campus ministers are busy people, especially if they fill another role at your school or are only part-time. Yes, we’re all busy. But if you know your class has a retreat soon or that there’s a big event coming up, ask your campus minister what you can do to help. They’ll appreciate it.
Unfortunately, working in a school can be a busy job where emails get sent the day before and things slip through the cracks. Make sure to communicate early, often, and effectively with your campus minister. If you have concerns or ideas, share them. This will help keep everyone on the same page.
Most importantly, communicate about the kids. Campus ministers aren’t in your classroom day in and day out. They don’t know who the talkers are or who they need to keep an extra eye on. They don’t know who isn’t talking to who this week or which kids work well together. Give them your perspective. That inside scoop could make the difference between an awesome retreat that brings them closer to Christ or a retreat where students were distracted by one another.
Respect the Difference
Campus ministers are not teachers. They may work for your school, with your students, and even teach them things but they are not teachers. Their job is not to make sure grades stay passing or even to plan great lessons. Their job is to build relationships with students so that they can lead them to Christ. Generally, campus ministers do have a higher tolerance for side conversations and off-topic questions. But this does not mean they are lazy or lax. This difference is because their goal is not so much to focus students on a concept or fact, but to capture their attention so it can be directed to a person.
Teachers and campus ministers ultimately both want good for their students. When we work together for that good, amazing things can happen. It is crucial that we work together well because when we do, our students benefit.
Rachel Gleeson is a campus minister in Colorado.
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