Conventions for College Students

Author: Thomas P. Grelinger


Suggestion by Thomas P. Grelinger for starting a student convention in each state based on the one held at Kansas Catholic College.

For those people interested in building the faith of young people including college students, you might want to consider starting a student convention in your state. The colleges and universities in Kansas have been doing this for 21 years now. I returned just a few hours ago from ours which this year is in Atchison and Benedictine College there.

The convention lasts a full weekend--Friday evening to Sunday noon--and covers speakers, reconciliation, Mass, meals, etc. There were about 250 college students from across Kansas who attended. Our theme this year was "Faith seeking understanding." This idea comes from St. Anselm, the eleventh century monk and archbishop of Canturbury.

Here is basically what we did this past weekend:


We arrived between 6:00 & 7:30 to register and break the ice, and then heard Dr. John Neumayr who teaches at St. Thomas Aquinas College in San Paulo, CA and is also on the board of governors. His talk was on the theme of the convention.

Afterwards, we had a reconciliation service for all of the college students where they could to individual confession and be absolved of their sins.


College students can be sacrificing and we certainly did when we started with daily Mass at 7:30 a.m. After a continental breakfast, we heard from Msgr. M. Francis Mannion who is rector of the Cathedral of the Madeleine and Diocesan Theologian in Salt Lake City, Utah. he has a doctorate in sacramental theology and has taught at CUA, St. Mary's College in California and St. John's University. He spoke on "Money, Sex, Power: A Catholic Perspective." Just as the world revolves around money, sex and power; we Christians should be practicing poverty, chastity, and obedience. By poverty, Msgr. Mannion means sharing the gifts God has given us and using them for the common good. By chastity, he means abstaining until in the bonds of marriage. By obedience, he means respecting other people and humility.

Our next major address was by Ms. Sabine Hyland, a convert who will receive a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Yale this year with the completion of her dissertation on Andean Indians and the Jesuit Missions, 1568-1600. She gave an excellent talk on "The Christian and the Other: Papal Teachings on Cultural Diversity." It sort of surprised their people deeply involved in anthropology that looked at the field in a Christian perspective unlike so much of the garbage that is thrown out to us.

Then came the favorite speaker of most, Mr. Scott Hahn (who is also working on a doctorate degree, but from Marquette in systematic theology). His talk was on "Faith Seeking Understanding in the Church." Pulling incidents from his own life he showed us important things about our faith.

After lunch, we broke into two groups and Msgr. Mannion and Scott Hahn offered a seminar to each to discuss "The Craft of Discipleship" and "Faith Seeking Understanding through Scripture", respectively. After the first seminar speakers switched rooms.

After the second seminar, each school gathered together to discuss who would be hosting next year's convention. Since we were the second largest school there and people who were anxious to do it, we were awarded the bid for next year. So sometime in late Winter or early Spring send college students to Lawrence, KS for a great weekend at the University of Kansas.

Up to this point we had been at the Mount St. Scholastica Conference Center where we had lodging, food, and the talks. In the late afternoon, we traveled to the campus of Benedictine College where we listened to his Excellency, Archbishop James P. Keleher talk about the importance of relationships in the family and how our society is marked as a culture of death.

We then had Vespers with the monks of St. Benedict's Abbey and an address by Sr. Mary Catherine Blanding, IHM. She teaches at Bishop Carroll High School in Wichita, KS and holds masters' degrees from the Angelicum and CUA and has been published in periodicals like _Homiletic and Pastoral Review_ and _Fatima Family Messenger_. She co-wrote the catechetical "Faith and Life" series for Ignatius Press. She talked about vocations in light of the theme, "Faith Seeking Understanding."

We then had a banquet and a talk by Dr. Neumayr. His talk was impromptu (he didn't follow the notes he had prepared) and talked more about Faith Seeking Understanding.

On Sunday, we had continental breakfast, reflection time in small groups and then Sunday Mass, and then we departed to return to our schools.

At least two of our speakers were wanting to do the same type of things in their state. Scott Hahn and Msgr. Mannion were both interested in conventions like ours for college students across their states.