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The Aquilian

    Campus ministry department adapts and succeeds in virtual environment

    In order to adhere to safety guidelines, Kairos groups met in the school parking garage for some activities on the retreat.

    The coronavirus pandemic has affected many in the Gonzaga community; however, one department was hit particularly hard—campus ministry. Campus ministry, a department that usually revolves around student interaction and conversation, has been forced to reformat retreats to be on campus and adapt service to a virtual space.

    Since campus reopened on Oct. 13, several sophomore retreats and one Kairos have been held on campus. The department had to fully adapt them to adhere to Washington, D.C.’s COVID-19 health regulations with smaller groups and activities restructured to allow for social distancing.

    “We first really started experimenting with the sophomore retreats,” said Mr. Stephen Szolosi, director of campus ministry. “Each of those kind of yielded some insight into what it would require to to bring a group to campus.”

    Restructuring Kairos to be on campus was no easy feat, and nobody knows this better than senior Johnathon Howell who served as rector of Kairos CLVIII. Howell put in countless hours to help rework the retreat.

    “As a rector, I felt a lot of pressure to make sure everything ran smoothly,” Howell said. “Some parts of the retreat were improvised, but in my opinion that made it even better.”

    Mr Szolosi speaks with retreatants in St Aloysius church
    Mr. Stephen Szolosi, director of campus ministry, speaks with Kairos retreatants in St Aloysius church on the fall retreat.

    Campus ministry has also ramped up its efforts to work with the Class of 2024, Gonzaga’s newest freshman class.

    The Class of 2024’s Gonzaga career has started slowly, with students forced to study from home and miss out on a year’s worth of football games and pep rallies; however, in their place has come virtual spirit days and six hours of mandatory virtual service, the first non-senior class to have to do so.

    “I actually think it’s the perfect year to roll it out,” said Ms. Danielle Flood, assistant director of campus ministry. “It’s just been another avenue for the freshmen to be with one another to serve and to learn about our community.”

    Service-oriented zoom calls have also provided freshmen with a chance to interact with upperclassmen, another aspect of campus life that they have missed out on. Despite the struggles of a virtual school year, members of campus ministry agree that it has brought them closer together.

    “I am realizing more and more that the Holy Spirit and God’s presence is so alive, no matter where the location is … no matter if it is not the exact way that we pictured this year was gonna roll out,” Ms. Flood said.

    Mr. Szolosi agreed, saying that the bonds formed on these unique retreats will persist upon the reopening of campus.

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    • M

      Molly MayFeb 4, 2021 at 11:50 am

      Great article and photos 🙂

    • P

      Pam ValeirasFeb 4, 2021 at 10:55 am

      Your informative article is a great shout out to this incredible department! Great photos!