February 19, 2021

Bloomington parish seeks interns to increase outreach to IU students

By Sean Gallagher

The campus of Indiana University in Bloomington is a mission field of tremendous opportunity for the Church in central and southern Indiana.

Tens of thousands of young adults from around the world, including many from within the archdiocese, call it home at a particularly formative part of their lives.

St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington has for decades sought to bring these young adults closer to Christ and the Church. It is now seeking four people to serve as pastoral interns to reach out to IU students who don’t ordinarily come to the faith community at the north end of the university’s campus.

“We’ve done an incredible job of creating opportunities for students to be explicitly evangelized and invited into discipleship formation,” said Dominican Father Patrick Hyde, St. Paul’s pastor. “At the same time, for every one student or so who’s in a Bible study, there are 10 or 20 who aren’t in a Bible study … .”

The internship, which will begin in July and last for a year with an option of a second year for individual interns, has four areas of ministry focus: hospitality; outreach; retreats and liturgy; and service.

Each of the interns will focus on one of those particular areas of ministry while also welcoming visitors and taking phone calls one day per week at St. Paul’s front desk and working in its development office.

Interns will fundraise about half of their living expenses and monthly $1,000 stipend.

Father Patrick hopes to select two men and two women as interns and envisions them as being recent college graduates, but is “open to whoever the Lord sends us.”

The interns will live in single-sex apartments or condominiums provided by St. Paul. They will gather regularly for community time and prayer, including Mass each day and a holy hour on weekdays.

“I see this as an opportunity for those who are feeling called to explore the possibility of ministry but aren’t yet willing to make a longer commitment or to graduate school right out of college,” said Father Patrick. “It’s an opportunity for young men and women who are trying to discern God’s will in their lives, to take a year to be intentional about their prayer and ministerial life and see if God is calling them, perhaps to the priesthood or religious life.”

Missionaries from the Fellowship of Catholic University Students will continue to serve at St. Paul, often leading Bible study groups and helping form students as missionary disciples. Father Patrick sees the new interns as helping St. Paul to build relationships with students who aren’t yet active in the faith community.

Once that relationship starts to be formed through service opportunities, retreats or social events at St. Paul, the students can then be invited to explore the faith more deeply in Bible studies, regular attendance at Mass and discipleship formation. The new internship program, Father Patrick said, “allows and creates a greater breadth and depth of ability to connect with people.”

Father Patrick says he frequently is in contact with relatives of students who are concerned that they have become less active in their faith while at IU.

The disconnect between many young adults and the Church has only increased, he said, because of the coronavirus pandemic. The new internship can, he said, be a catalyst to help St. Paul re-enliven the life of faith of many IU students.

“When we start to come out of COVID in the fall, we are going to need to go out and find those students who aren’t coming to Mass anymore because they’ve gotten out of the habit,” Father Patrick said.

The pandemic, he said, is an opportunity for the Church in general and St. Paul in particular to look at ministry and evangelization in new ways. The new pastoral internship program is one such effort.

“In a way, the world has hit the reset button because of COVID,” Father Patrick said. “Everything has changed. As a result, everything is uncertain and unstable. That can be frightening. … At the same time, Jesus has already won. He has conquered sin and death.”
 

(The application deadline for the new pastoral internship program at St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington is March 5. For more information on the program, visit hoosiercatholic.org/job-openings.)

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