By Shannon Szefinski
Sacred Heart University’s Office of Campus Ministry is doing its part to connect students through daily prayer emails titled “Take a Deep Breath.”
In response to questions from The Spectrum, the Campus Ministry leaders, Fr. Ed Stewart, Chaplain; Fr. Joe Farias, Chaplain; and Valerie Kisselback, Campus Minister, answered questions as a group in an email.
“Our series of Take a Deep Breath is meant to encourage the wider SHU community to spend daily moments of quiet reflection, to meditate on the big picture and to foster hope in the midst of these challenging times,” said Campus Ministry.
These emails have consisted of personal stories of strength, inspiring song lyrics and speeches of hope from Pope Francis, among many other topics.
“These emails have acted as a source of motivation and inspiration to get through my schoolwork throughout the day,” said junior Paige Campbell. “I find myself looking towards the daily emails as something to meditate on while going about my day.”
Campus Ministry works alongside Volunteer Programs/Service Learning as well as several members of the music faculty to create something that will be beneficial for the university community.
“Each of us has the freedom to use our own particular spirituality, human experience, and point of view to come up with something that we hope will resonate with, reassure and speak to the experience of our students, faculty and staff,” said Campus Ministry.
The goal of Campus Ministry is to urge the students and faculty of Sacred Heart to recognize that while they are not together in person, they can be connected spiritually.
“Everything we are trying to do is intended to convey that the SHU community, and with it our community of faith, is alive and well even if we can’t be physically present to each other at this point in time,” said Campus Ministry.
During times of great stress, anxiety and uncertainty, it is not uncommon for people to focus their energy toward their faith to get them through it.
“There’s something really comforting knowing that even if you feel like you don’t have anything, you can still have faith,” said Campbell. “It’s not something that can be taken away.”
Campus Ministry provides encouraging words and strength for those looking for direction during a time of crisis, as well as acknowledging that among the tough times there can also be positive things happening in the world.
“These emails invite us to remember that each day the sun is continuing to rise, to shine and to set, that spring has actually arrived and things new and green are bursting into leaf and flower as they always have,” said Campus Ministry. “That we continue to be loved as we have always been and that we still have the opportunity to love in return, that our God is a God of life and of hope even in the face of the threat from this virus.”
Campus Ministry also posts inspirational content every day on their Instagram (@shucampusmin). For Sunday Mass and additional prayer experiences go to the Campus Ministry home page and look for the series titled Praying with SHU.
“We are going through uncertain times, but you are not alone. There is always someone that will stand by you. As anxious as we are, times like this bring out the best in people Neighbors, teachers, storekeepers, mail and package deliverers, caregivers and tons of medical and healthcare workers are taking risks to stand by each of us. And we are called to stand, too, to say to one another, ‘Stand by me.’ And together we’ll stand strong.”
“You might feel overwhelmed by the situation right now. Know that you are not alone! Lord is always with you! He never abandoned you or forgot you! Just feel His presence, through peace and tranquility. He manifests Himself in different ways. He wants to be hope in our hearts, light in our minds.”
“But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm,” said Pope Francis.
“When we carry each other in our hearts with love and kindness, the separation of physical distance seems, at least momentarily, to drop away.”
“Heavenly Father, here is our desire to do your will and to celebrate Passover by eating matza and by observing the prohibition of eating leaven, but it pains our hearts that slavery prevents us and we are in mortal danger . . . for this reason, we pray that You will keep us in life, and preserve us and redeem us quickly so that we can observe Your laws and do Your will and worship You with a full heart – Amen.”