UMD Campus Ministry seeks to aid as young students ‘Embark’ on new life

By Dave Jolivet, Anchor Editor

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. — “Any transition is difficult in life,” said Father David C. Frederici, diocesan director of Campus Ministry and chaplain at UMass Dartmouth and Bristol Community College, and pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Pocasset. And he should know, having made the journey from high school to college to seminary to the priesthood, where one can, and usually does, wear many hats.

Another who knows a bit about change is Deacon Frank Lucca, a campus minister at UMass Dartmouth. Lucca also made the trek from high school to college, to the business world, to being a father and husband, then embracing the challenges of preparing for the permanent diaconate and all that ministering as a deacon entails.

With such vast experience in facing and accepting change, the two are offering area students who will be entering college within the next few months an overnight program to help them prepare for the biggest changes most will encounter yet in their young lives.

“We’re offering a program for first-year students focusing on transition,” Lucca told The Anchor. “It’s for any student, not just those planning on attending UMass Dartmouth.”

“And,” Father Frederici added, “it’s not just for those who will be moving away to campus. It’s also for those who will be commuting. They too, are experiencing a major transition in their lives, and transitions are disruptions.”

The free overnight program will take place on the peaceful grounds of the Sacred Hearts Retreat Center in Wareham beginning with registration at 12:30 p.m. on August 4, ending at 1:30 p.m. on August 5.

“When freshmen students begin that new journey in their lives, often their faith lives fall through the cracks, even if they’ve been active in their parishes for many years,” said Father Frederici. “Also, at some point during that first year they may also get that ‘I don’t belong here,’ feeling about the college experience and leave.

“The overnight program is called ‘Embark,’ something all the students will be doing in a couple of months. We’re hoping to ease the disruptions of transition for them, with the help of some students who have gone through the very same thing.”

Along with Father Frederici and Deacon Lucca, the Embark team will be comprised of three young adults who have been active with campus ministry, and/or who have experienced retreat programs geared toward college-age individuals.

“We have three young adults who will be assisting their peers,” explained Lucca. “A UMD graduate student and an undergrad, and a undergraduate from Rhode Island College. Each are peer leaders in their respective campus ministries and have attended a campus ministry retreat.”

“It’s important for new students to hear about the transitions they’ll face; whether it be living away from home for the first time, dealing with school and work, and still finding the time to keep their faith lives alive,” said Father Frederici. “But it’s also important that they hear the message from someone their own age; someone they can relate to. It’s important to have them socialize with them, and then when they’re on campus there can be that comfort zone.”

The overnight program includes prayer, PowerPoint presentations, talks, small-group sharing, personal reflections, Eucharistic Adoration, food, and social time.

Father Frederici and Deacon Lucca agree the program can give young students the opportunity to make contacts on campus who they’ll know and trust.

“We find that the earlier  we have contact with students, the more likely they will remain involved in campus ministry or their parishes at home,” said Father Frederici. “We want students to know that the campus ministry is not one of the many clubs that will seek out students during their college years. The ministry is there for them; to help them when they need help; to provide a Spiritual haven if that’s what they need; and to be there for students to help them include the Spiritual aspect in their lives that can sometimes become so overwhelming and busy.

“Come August, all the realities of a major change in life will sink in rapidly.”

The program is free and open to any student attending any college or university for the first time this coming semester. For more information, contact Deacon Frank Lucca at flucca@umassd.edu or visit www.fallrivercampusministry.com.

© 2017 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing  †  Fall River, Massachusetts