Campus ministry programs on Faithful Citizenship can be as simple or elaborate as the leader chooses. They can be incorporated over several weeks and months, or they can be the focus of a single retreat or gathering or part of one, depending on how much time is available.
- It is important for young people to be familiar with some of the key ideas from Catholic social teaching that shape our approach to issues and campaigns. To do this, it is helpful to have already shared with them in previous sessions the Themes from Sharing Catholic Social Teaching, a card and poster summarizing seven key themes of Catholic social teaching, or the video, In the Footsteps of Jesus, which also summarizes these themes.
- Before students will be interested in learning about Faithful Citizenship, they need to understand the statement's relevance to their own lives. Host a gathering (with refreshments provided) on the theme "Why Should Participate in Political Life?" or "The World is inYour Hands: Exercising your Responsibility as a Faithful Citizen" or "What is My Church Saying about My Role in Transforming the World?" You may want to feature a relevant speaker or presenter outlining the document, but be sure to leave ample time for discussion.
- Use the Adult Education and Small Faith Community Sharing plans as the basis for a seven-week small faith sharing group on Faithful Citizenship.
- Recruit student volunteers to help plan a campus-wide "faithful citizenship" prayer service.
- Connect with Pro-Life and Social Concerns groups and other organizations on campus that share the Church's commitment to protect human life and dignity. Make sure that they are aware of Faithful Citizenship and suggest ways they can collaborate to co-sponsor events and make their membership and other students aware of the important document. Engage these students in passing out to other students promotional materials that can be found in the Parish and School Leaders section.
- Make sure that residence hall ministers are aware of the statement and the many resources available that may be useful in helping students with questions and concerns around election time.
- Organize a campus voter registration drive. Emphasize to Catholic students that it is their responsibility as faithful citizens to be active in political life. Be sure that your efforts are nonpartisan; for help, consult the resource on Political Responsibility Guidelines to Keep in Mind during Election Season.
- Facilitate a trip for students to attend the "lobby days" sponsored by state Catholic conferences, or organize a letter writing/email campaign to decision-makers about issues of life, justice and peace. For ongoing information about advocacy opportunities and issues of focus, contact your diocesan social action or pro-life office, your state Catholic conference, or the USCCB.
- Order copies of the Faithful Citizenship booklet to make available for students in campus ministry offices and in the back of the university worship space as students exit after Mass, and make the bulletin insert version of the statement, The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, available to all students.
General Suggestions for Campus Ministers
Infuse the Civic Responsibility Message into What You're Already Doing
Prayers and Liturgies:
Opening and closing prayers at parish or university Masses can include special intentions
for those whose lives are at risk, for those suffering from injustice, for political leaders who make important decisions, and, close to the election, for those who will be voting for our leaders.
Regular Faith Sharing Meetings/Event:
In addition to offering new events focused specifically on the Church's teaching on civic responsibility, existing programs can weave this topic into other discussions. For example, if small faith sharing communities
are already meeting on campus, they could focus on Faithful Citizenship
as part of one of their regular sessions.
Integrate Education and Advocacy into Service Activities
Many campus ministry programs do a good job of involving students in efforts to serve those in need. Young people are encouraged to serve the homeless, collect food for food banks, provide clothing and other items for those in need, and perform many other services. However, too many campus ministry programs do not effectively engage students in social analysis and education. Before and after service activities, young people should be encouraged to examine the underlying causes of the immediate problems their service efforts address. For example, when young people collect food for those who are hungry, campus ministers can help students ask why people are hungry and what opportunities our society offers for us to change those conditions. Likewise, students should be encouraged to become involved in advocacy. It is important to help all Catholics understand that voting and helping to shape policies that protect human life and promote justice and peace are part of what it means to be an active Catholic. Students can learn a great deal from attending "lobby days" sponsored by state Catholic conferences or from researching and writing letters to decision-makers about issues of justice and peace. For ongoing information about advocacy opportunities, contact your diocesan social action or pro-life office, your state Catholic conference, or the USCCB
Promote Citizenship but Avoid Partisanship
Campus ministers can play an important role in promoting "faithful citizenship." However, it is not appropriate for campus ministers to promote partisan positions on candidates or parties. For more information, see Do's and Don'ts: Political Responsibility Guidelines to Keep in Mind during Election Season
Do What You Can
Efforts to share the Church's tradition of civic responsibility can be as simple as asking a couple of questions during a meeting or as sophisticated as a campus-wide voter education campaign. The first step for most campus ministers is to become familiar with the basic message by reading the bishops' Faithful Citizenship
statement and the bulletin insert that summarizes it. Then decide what is realistic in your unique context, and do as much as you can to weave this message into your campus ministry programs.