As a response to the loneliness of social isolation, Newman University Campus Ministry is increasing its online presence in order to uphold the university’s strong community atmosphere in this time of need.
Recent emails sent out by Father Adam Grelinger, Newman University chaplain, and Emily Simon, assistant director of campus ministry, contain online resources such as prayers, passages and websites that allow people to attend Mass without leaving the safety of their homes. In addition to resources included in the emails, Campus Ministry collaboratively created its own website known as The Virtual Red Couch.
This charming home away from home has a great deal of warmth and personality, as well as weekly challenges, prayers, poems, podcasts and opinions for both reflection and entertainment. It feels just as genuine as lounging on the real red couch, and any student who visits it is sure to smile.
In the words of Grelinger, “Our social distancing ought not to be spiritual distancing,” a motto which has been proven by various emails and reinforced by The Virtual Red Couch.
Simon, too, was passionate about providing spiritual assistance from a distance.
“We don’t know why these things are happening and there’s no doubt that living through a pandemic is frustrating and confusing and lonely,” she said. “But I hope that one day we’ll be able to look back on this time and recognize how the circumstances taught us to rely more than ever on God’s grace and mercy. Let the difficulties of this time bring out our spiritual resilience and our faith that even now, God is providing.”
She continued by expressing the importance of community in Campus Ministry and explained that they did not want the feeling of togetherness to be lost in this new situation.
“When we were considering what way would be best to continue our community and ministry digitally, it became apparent that we needed a place to consolidate all the forms of engagement we wanted to try. So a website that acted as our home away from home seemed the best platform to house a multitude of ideas.”
The website and emails were composed swiftly and masterfully, efficiently providing students with hand-picked passages and even a prayer written by Father Adam.
Simon added, “He also put together the spiritual resources we sent out in the email and also feature on the website. I have certainly been very impressed with all the organizations that have worked hard to create and consolidate resources for people who will suddenly have a lot more free time. So I’m sure we’ve either stumbled across these spiritual resources through our own internet crawls or word of mouth.”
Aside from resources named in the emails and on the website, Simon recommends BibleProject for those who are “attempting to dive deeper into the Bible during this time.”
Simon was also excited to announce a collaborative project with Wichita Adore Ministries to film the Stations of the Cross — among other things — in St. John’s chapel located on the Newman campus, which will be streamed and shared in the future.
“Our main goal in this time is just to keep reminding the Newman community that being together is possible. We can support one another in our prayers and build each other up with beauty, even from a distance.”
NU Prayer for the Crisis
Written by Father Adam Grelinger
Merciful God, Creator of all things, and our loving Father, we turn to You in this difficult time and pray that our world may be spared the worst of this crisis.
We echo St. John Henry Newman in pleading, “Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom. Lead Thou me on!” For we too cannot see all that lies ahead in this difficult time but confidently pray with St. Maria De Mattias, “Providence that has provided, still provides and always will provide.”
Imploring Your loving care, we offer You now the intentions closest to our hearts: For the sick, we pray they may be healed and strengthened in trust. For our health care workers, we pray for courage, clear judgment and safety. For our leaders, we pray for wisdom, prudence and justice. For us all, we pray for hope, patience and loving solidarity.
For the Newman University community we pray especially for all students, faculty, staff, administration, board members and Adorers; keep us all safe and healthy, Lord. As our semester enters this uncertain time of change, grant us empathy and courtesy toward one another. Though we may not be able to fully understand this cross You are asking us to take up, we pray You will help us to bear it with grace and to emerge stronger as a community once the crisis has passed.
St. John Henry Newman, pray for us.
St. Maria De Mattias, pray for us.
Our Lady Undoer of Knots, pray for us.