By Chelsie Gastright, Organizations Editor
September 19, 2012
When entering college, finding that special place to feel welcomed and at home can be difficult. For many, finding that “home away from home” is more than just a dorm and the university they attend, but is found in a club or organization. Last year, that home away from home for many students was found in a weekly mass.
High Point University Catholic Campus Ministries, HPU CCM, started as a weekly mass that hosted 20 students. Only one year later, HPU CCM is working on becoming a chartered organization, hosting its first event and serves, on average, 70 students per week at mass.
In fall of 2011, Patti Suchan, a member of the HPU CCM leadership team, started going to Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, IHMCC, located about 10 minutes from HPU.
Soon after Suchan started attending, the church announced it would begin providing services on HPU’s campus every Sunday at 9 p.m. in the Slane Terrace Room. A few weeks passed after the first night of mass, and the group had outgrown the Terrace Room.
Weekly mass was then moved to Phillips Lecture Hall, but on only the first night the room was filled to capacity.
HPU CCM now meets every Sunday at 9 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall in Hayworth Chapel and is led by the head pastor at IHMCC, Father Vince Smith.
The number of students attending mass is quickly growing, and is already causing Andrew Lanier, leadership team member of HPU CCM, to consider new locations.
Lanier and Suchan could not be more thrilled with the growth of the Sunday masses, and mentioned that they hope to see attendance in the triple digits fairly soon. They also both stressed that both the masses and the new organization will emphasize a strong sense of community and belonging.
“It’s like a family, it’s like a home, and it’s just a great group of people where you can share similar values,” said Lanier.
In order to strengthen HPU CCM, each week after mass the students stay for fellowship. During this time, parish members from IHMCC bring baked goods for the HPU students. The fellowship is used for relaxing, socializing and building depth in the organization through the student members.
“It’s always fun to be able to see people on campus and recognize them,” said Suchan. “You don’t have to be best friends, but it’s always nice to have that connection with other people and that common ground.”
Other than fellowship and mass, Lanier has put together the organizations first event: a lock-in. The lock-in will take place on Sept. 21 and 22, and is open to all who wish to attend.
At this lock-in, students will have a chance to participate in icebreakers and large and small group sessions that will help explore the greater questions of faith and Christianity.
“We are going to focus on relationships and how faith plays into our relationships, our faith journeys and the in-betweens,” said Lainer.
Students involved in the lock-in will meet in the Fellowship Hall of Hayworth Chapel at 7:00 p.m. and then walk to the old IHMCC off of Montlieu Avenue.
Registration for the lock-in is available at mass, through the HPU CCM website and in-person the night of the lock-in. Lanier also wanted to point out that there is no deadline to register. Students wanting to participate can simply show up the night of and register at the church.
HPU CCM has many other fun events planned, including movie nights, a catholic film series, a trip to the ropes course, service trips and other ministry related activities.
“This [HPU CCM] is honestly one of the best parts of my week. I look forward to going to mass on Sunday nights,” said Suchan. “Being with people who understand where I’m at and want to know how I’m doing, it’s kind of like a piece of home, but tailored to my life right now.”
Lanier and Suchan both mentioned that even though the organization is based on the Catholic faith, it is open to any student who wants to be involved. They also both hope to network with other faith based organizations to better the experience of everyone involved.
Whether you are just starting your college career, or are in the final stretch, HPU CCM gives all students an equal opportunity to be involved and accepted by a loving home away from home.
For more information, visit the HPU CCM page by searching High Point University Catholic Campus Ministries. Visit their www.hpuccm.org, or email Andrew Lanier at email@example.com.