I know the typical thought behind providing for campus ministry is that we as a church need to support college students during these critical years when so many stray from their faith or actually leave the church. That is undoubtedly true, but I’d like to share a little bit of my story so that you can possibly see campus ministry in another light, as well.
My name is Shelley Breaud. I graduated from UL with a Finance degree about 30 years ago. I was not Catholic and had not attended church for several years. I don’t remember Wisdom at all. A few years later, Alan and I married in a civil ceremony while on vacation in another country. We had our marriage blessed when our older son, Hudson, was baptized. I had no idea why it was so important, but it seemed like a good thing to do, and it meant so much to my husband’s family. After our younger son, Harrison, was born and baptized, I decided to go through the RCIA program. I converted to Catholicism because by that time, I knew I wanted us to emulate the families I saw that were bringing their children up in the Church. Unfortunately, I didn’t want it badly enough to consistently DO what it takes to BE one of those families! We were hit and miss … mostly attending Mass for the big holidays, but not even always those.
Fast forward to the campus ministry part … our sons became very involved in campus ministry in high school and college through opportunities similar to the ones that Our Lady of Wisdom offers. They attended Mass, participated in and helped facilitate retreats, did service projects, went on mission trips, started a collegiate Knights of Columbus chapter, and most importantly, they learned about their faith at a very deep level. It was more than just learning the “rules and regulations”! And I watched. And I was inspired — to do more than the bare minimum. This is what I want to emphasize: because of campus ministry, our sons evangelized me.
About 6 years ago, after Hudson and Harrison were grown and gone, I made my way to the 6:00 PM Student Mass at Wisdom. By that time, I was much more faithful to Mass and had even become a Eucharistic Minister at another parish — I have found that taking on a commitment keeps me accountable, and I feel so blessed by the intimacy of that moment when I give a fellow parishioner the body of Christ. But I still had not really found the parish home that suited me best.
The students at Wisdom picked up where my kids left off, inspiring me to want whatever it was they were getting here. I was immediately struck by the reverence and respect shown by the students for the Mass. The liturgy was so beautiful and traditional, and the homilies were truthful and relevant to college students. Counter to our culture, I saw students who were here week after week and often at noon on weekdays. They were here with friends or by themselves. I was blown away by the music; and on the night I heard hundreds of college students sing “How Great Thou Art,” something in my heart gave way.
Campus parishes are unique in that the faces change often, as students graduate and leave. I know that whatever they do after graduation, Wisdom’s involved students leave here knowing deep in their hearts the depth and weight of what we are given as Catholics. They know fully what the Eucharist means. They know the great mercy of Confession. They know what a vibrant ministry that is timeless and full of truth looks like. They can’t “un-know” these things, and they’ll never be happy with anything less. They’ll take what they’ve learned at Our Lady of Wisdom into their present families, as my kids did, and they’ll be the spiritual leaders their future families need. They’ll be rock-solid in their parishes, communities, and workplaces.
I started by telling you I have a Finance degree from UL … in those terms, the return on an investment in the Wisdom for Every Generation capital campaign cannot even be calculated. To help ensure the facilities and programs are here for any and all students at UL who wish to have the same life-changing experience I’ve tried to describe, Alan and I have made a 5-year commitment to the capital campaign. I hope that you will join us in pledging your support for the Wisdom for Every Generation capital campaign.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.” The students of Wisdom are right here, sitting in the pews next to us. Please join us in helping them.
Note: Shelley and Alan Breaud are members of the Wisdom For Every Generation Leadership Board. Pictured: Shelley, Harrison, Alan, and Hudson Breaud.
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