The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Minister mulls Ministry missteps

I have ministered with University Ministry the last four years, and this is the first time I have felt a mentality of exclusion. That unfortunately flies completely in the face of the mission of both University Ministry and Marquette. The ministry now focuses more on commitment than encouragement and more on performance than praise.

This year, for the first time, ministers were asked to attend an all-day Sunday training session, starting at 9 a.m. The rationale? In large part, to "weed out" those who had lower commitment levels. Only through higher commitments and training can a Mass become transparent, and run well.

Yet, the most spiritually profound Mass on campus — Tuesday at 10 p.m. at St. Joan of Arc — is also the least transparent. Fathers Naus and Flaherty joke with each other, while the choir stands in front of the altar, while the guitarist interrupts with a random riff in the middle of the Eucharistic prayer. And it is beautiful. And there is no commitment necessary for the choir, the readers or the Eucharistic ministers.

When my father — who has served in lay ministry for 30 years — said he would not have been willing to complete the day-long requirement, I knew something was wrong. Personally, if I hadn't been helping to lead the training, I probably wouldn't have either.

In another example, while studying abroad last semester, I got to know a girl who above all things identified herself by her ministry in the University Ministry choir. Given the chance to describe herself in one phrase, she would undoubtedly rave about her indelible commitment and enthusiasm for singing praise to God at the 4 p.m. masses. She had sung with them for two and a half years and definitely hoped to continue as a leader in the group this year.

Except that will never happen. She was cruelly cut from the choir during a re-audition process.

In speaking with the choir director, I found the cut resulted from limited space and a fresh, talented crop of freshman who performed better. Performed? When did ministry become about performance rather than praise? Maybe when egos got involved.

I guarantee that this senior — with three years of experience — had enough spirit, passion, zeal and yes, even commitment, to get her past a sight-reading deficiency to be not only a great choir member (as she had already proved to be) but also a leader in the group.

The choir director pointed out there are other choirs to join and "this is the university choir." Incorrect, I pointed out. This is the University Ministry choir. And as with all programs through that office, it should promote ministry rather than utilitarian means to promote a better sound.

How many students who would have otherwise been ministers were lost because of the raised expectations? Hundreds, many of whom are student leaders in other fields. Granted, there are several hours of post-training videos that can be watched to make up for missing training, but most students are not pursuing that route. University Ministry lost these students with one exclusionary tactic, and they are not about to return begging to do ministry.

I see the importance of the role of ministry in my own life, and have seen its importance in the lives of others. It is time for leaders of University Ministry to re-examine recent decisions that discourage students from exploring ministry in their own lives and begin looking for ways to encourage such a fulfilling experience for all students — even busy ones.

Eichenlaub is a senior communications major and the Co-Coordinator of Eucharistic Ministers for University Ministry.

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