We've been talking a lot about assesment lately. How do we assess how we are doing? How do we calmly, and charitably study the fruits of our labors and efforts and adjust our pastoral plan? What exactly is the measure of a good Catholic campus ministry at a good Catholic University?
Certainly religious practice is a component in such any assessment, a key component. I think though any study of our religious practice has to include some kind of before and after criteria. Where was the religious practice of our students before they came to Catholic and where is it now? We also have to look at what usually happens to religious practice in the lives of young adults nation wide after they leave home. (I really don't know where to begin with this. If anyone knows of studies in this regard please pass them on to me.)
Religious practicie should include:
- Mass Attendance
- Personal prayer....
all of those things are essential in the life of the Church and our own personal spiritual lives.
I think we also have to ask ourselves if we have helped our students get beyond their own interests and their own world? Have we helped our students see a broader perspective than their own lived experience. Have given them opportunities to examine our culture and our values in the light of Gospel? Have we inspired them to service, but service not for service sake rather service inspired by and imbued with Gospel values? .... a very important question indeed.
Have we in some way tried to evangelize (bring young people to faith) or have we only worked with those who come to us. Have we thrown the net out wide? How and when and where have we reached out to those who don't practice their faith or have any faith at all. This is often a very frustrating exercise for our staff. It is not always well received and if one looks at evangelization on a college campus this can be a huge effort for what seems like a small result. I don't think we can allow the world to discourage us but rather we have to press forward without fear.
Obviously levels of participation have to be considered in all of this, but I'm not sure that there is any way to benchmark our statistics with anyone else. I have not found other tools or instruments around that have look at these questions.
I put all of this our there just in case anyone has any ideas on how we might begin or where I can go to get more information.
Peace Prayers and assess well
Maybe the best assessment is the old faithful examination of conscience before you go to bed, who knows. ;)
For studies on what kind of faith life young people have after they leave home you should try the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown. They should have something. Also try the Life Cycle Institute; they should at elast be able to point you in the right direction, if they don't have any of their own studies.
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