Editor’s note: An estimated 211 students are signed up for leadership positions in Campus Ministry this year, and nearly all DSHA students will likely participate in Campus Ministry activities — from attending Masses and retreats to cleaning the chapel sacristy and running service initiatives. Leading those students will be seven DSHA seniors, known as Campus Ministry Officers, who are poised to take charge of Campus Ministry’s prayer, service and communications work. This is the second in a series of stories introducing this year’s officers.
Before she was a freshman, Bridget Flyke, DSHA ’19, said she “didn’t really have a strong foundation in my faith.”
That foundation materialized quickly, though, during an almost-random visit to the weekly Faith Friday liturgy. She was still only a freshman when she felt unexpectedly beckoned there — "I was just being called to the chapel, I didn’t really know why,” she now recalls — for one of the school’s optional weekly Masses.
“I just kind of went and grabbed a rosary and a hymnal and I sat down and the rosary started,” she said. “And as I looked around, everyone was so reverent. And some girls even had their eyes closed, and that was just really striking to me because, before, when I had gone to Mass during middle school, no one really seemed engaged at all and no one even opened their hymnal or wanted to sing.”
Inspired since then to grow in her faith and help others do the same, Flyke is now hoping to serve as an inspiration to her younger DSHA classmates. Ditto for fellow students Claire Lois, DSHA ’19, and Reegan Schmidt, DSHA ’19, who with Flyke will work this year to help students grow in their prayer lives.
The three Campus Ministry Officers are poised to take charge of DSHA’s teeming prayer ministries by helping manage liturgies and direct fellow students who volunteer in sacramental roles at the school.
“Being a Campus Ministry officer or a Retreat Coordinator are some of the most prestigious leadership positions at DSHA because of the level of commitment,” said Campus Ministry Director Kathleen Cullen Ritter, DSHA ’05. She pointed specifically to a demanding schedule that includes weekly meetings and working regularly with the entire DSHA student body.
Still, Cullen Ritter said the young women filling leadership roles this year are some of the most faith-filled and organized she’s ever worked with. Flyke, for instance, is coupling her position’s emphasis on prayer with a key leadership role in an Advent service project she’s designed and coordinated to work with Milwaukee-area immigrants.
DSHA’s Campus Ministry programming features heavy concentrations of direct and active community service. Dashers last year, for instance, completed nearly 25,000 combined hours of faith-infused service, and ministry coordinators like Flyke, Lois and Schmidt are looking forward to large-scale projects they’ve already lined up for later this year. The school has also scheduled multiple faith-formation retreats this year, including an annual, two-week “Vocare” service retreat for seniors.
Schmidt said service programs — including a project during Lent aimed at helping pregnant women in West Africa — are among the things she’s most excited about working on this year.
But she and the other two prayer officers said they were equally excited about helping guide classmates through some of the more ethereal dimensions of their faith.
“The goal I have for people from a prayer perspective is that they can learn that there’s more than one way to pray,” Lois said. “There’s not just the basic praying your Hail Mary, Our Father, basic prayers; there’s different styles of prayer. There’s different ways to pray that maybe aren’t so conventional, but you can find a way that works best for you and make it a daily part of your life and grow closer to God.”
“You’re not going to hear (God’s) voice in your head, that’s not how it works,” Schmidt said, echoing her classmates and noting opportunities to emphasize a range of prayer techniques was something she’s looking forward to.
“That’s something that I want people to realize,” Schmidt added. “Even if they feel like it’s really hard to pray and it’s really hard to talk to God, there are so many different ways to do it and every person has their own way that makes them feel connected to God. … And there’s no wrong or right way, and I think that’s something that I really want people to realize and I really want to address and talk about.”