On and off campus, programs help students keep ties to Catholic faith

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Whether they attend Catholic, private or public colleges, Catholic students can face challenges to their faith in the new environment of campus life.

But a variety of programs on and off campus are working to remind students of their Catholic roots and helping to make their college experience not only a time of academic growth, but of spiritual growth as well.

More than 100 college students who are parishioners at St. James Church in Setauket, N.Y., receive twice-yearly reminders “that your parish family loves you and is thinking of you,” according to Mary Arasi, who has been running the program for 15 years.

The reminder comes in the form of a care package that includes homemade baked goods, a copy of the local town newspaper, an assortment of candy and other snacks, a religious article and a handwritten note signed, “God bless you, your St. James parish family.”

This fall 117 students received the care packages. “We had 36 bakers making baked goods all week,” Arasi said. Another 40 volunteers assembled the boxes, which were then placed near the altar at Sunday Mass to be picked up and mailed by parish families.

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