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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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