Religious groups for students diverse at Quinnipiac

By on March 2, 2005

With a variety of students with different religious backgrounds present at Quinnipiac University, three groups are responding to students’ quests for faith: Branches, HILLEL and Christian Fellowship.

“Students need somewhere to nurture their spirituality,” Reverend Vernon Thompson, the university’s Protestant Chaplain, said. Thompson, who began as Chaplain of the Christian Fellowship in 1998, now mentors the 20 or 30 active members in his group.

Father Jonathan Kalisch, the Catholic Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry, agrees.

He says that the groups are just what Quinnipiac students need.

“There is a need for faith on campus,” Kalisch said

The Catholic group, Branches, has existed for over 15 years. It has six active leaders who plan events with the help of Kalisch and the club’s 90 other members. Some of their events include the newly instated candlelit masses held Wednesdays at 10 p.m., Sunday services and frequent discussion groups.

Kalisch, who started this fall, is still in the process of getting familiar with the campus and is working to promote awareness among students. For example, he is planning a spring break trip to Jacksonville, Fla., where students will take part in a number of service projects throughout the week. He says its a good opportunity to get away for while, as well as do something meaningful and valuable.

Hillel, the Jewish group on campus that is directed by Rabbi Steven Steinberg, is mainly concerned with planning events with the help of the club’s several student officers. HILLEL is particularly active in planning events in which all students, club member or not, can partake.

The groups accommodate Quinnipiac University’s religious population which is 70 percent Catholic and 10 percent Jewish. The remaining 20 percent are a mix of other religions or atheists.

All three organizations are active on a regular basis and hold weekly events including such thinks as Bible studies, Pro-life awareness group sessions and ice cream socials. Rocco Aloe, a sophomore broadcast journalism major, feels that despite his personal lack of religious involvement, there is a definite need for the religious groups on campus.

“If the groups are there, there must be an interest,” Aloe said. “It is a good thing.”

One major issue that Kalisch believes affects worship on campus is the absence of a chapel.

“I believe it would incite a greater sense of communal worship,” Kalisch said.

Without it, he feels that students are more private about their religious involvement because there is no specific sanctuary for reflection.

Kalisch says it is not out of the ordinary for non-religious institutions to have a chapel on campus. He has worked on many secular campuses including schools in Ohio, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, all of which have a designated place of worship.

Steinberg disagrees. He would like to see money going toward events and activities rather than the creation of an on-campus place of worship.

Steinberg believes that such an area is mainly for aesthetic purposes and that his office in the student center is sufficient for the community’s needs.

Joshua Danzig, a senior broadcast journalism major, says that the intensity of religion on campus is maintained at the right level.

“If you try and do something more with religion on campus, then it might cause a little commotion,” Danzig said.

Despite their differences, all of the religious groups seem to be promoting the same message.

“They are all here to foster a greater spirituality,” Kalisch said.

Students interested in getting involved with any of the three groups should contact the group heads or visit the organizations’ offices in the upper level of the student center.


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