Since being named pastor of St. Augustine parish in 2010, Monsignor Michael Carruthers has spent almost as much time studying and learning as the UM students in the Catholic Campus Ministry.
“I spent the first year I was here mostly trying to discern what the needs were and how the vision for Catholic ministry can take shape,” he said.
The summer following his first year, Carruthers developed the Duc In Altum – Latin for “to put out into the deep” – as a vision document to help define the areas that needed improvement and the direction to be taken.
The three major themes include: encounter, which focuses on creating an environment so students can have a closer encounter with God; formation, so that once students have that encounter, it changes their lives; and evangelization, to share the new life with others.
“Throughout my second year here, I began to try to act on the vision and really develop it,” he said.
Carruthers said he tries to empower students by training them in prayer and leadership skills, specifically in sharing their faith with others. That helps take the Catholic way of life across San Amaro Drive to the campus, he explained.
Since his arrival, the number of students who belong to the campus ministry has grown to nearly 300. He has added new programs, expanded old ones and developed new ways to increase student involvement in the church. For the first time, the Campus Catholic Ministry Olympics took place last year.
“We divided into guys’ and girls’ teams, enjoying each other on the [University] Green and growing in a community,” he said.
This year, Carruthers is teaching a class on St. Ignatius Loyola’s “Rules for the Discernment of Spirits.” It involves becoming sensitive to “motions of the soul” – such as thoughts, inclinations, feelings, repulsions and attractions – and reflecting on them to understand where they come from and where they lead people.
The class is held Sunday afternoons in the church library. Anyone is welcome to attend and it is free of charge.
Michelle Ducker, who directs UM’s Catholic Campus Ministry, said she is also fond of another program: college retreats.
“It is a weekend away from university life,” she said. “It’s a way for students to strengthen their relationship with God, grow in a community, as well as really live their faith as a college student.”