When Brother Michael Murphy, accepted the job as Saint Mary’s Director of Mission and Ministry in January 2012, he was coming full circle. He’d first worked in the office 17 years ago, when the Dominican priests ran what was then called Campus Ministry.
Despite many changes, the job description remains much the same — to promote the Lasal- lian core principals of respect for all people in an inclusive community, faith in the presence of God, a quality education and social justice and concern for the poor.
“I’m pleased that it is and always has been a ministry for the whole campus,” he said. “We’re charged to promote that. We’re charged to pro- mote the Catholic and Lasallian character.”
The challenge is staying relevant in an increas- ingly secular society — a society Brother Michael called “eroded by materialism and individualism.” More than ever, he sees his role as providing a welcome environment for students to share meals, prayer and service. “For many students, this is the first time they’ve experienced this sense of community,” he said.
While the core principals have remained the same, the demographics on campus have changed. The number of non-Catholic students has grown to 46 percent, prompting Mission and Ministry to make mass more inclusive and, on special occasions, invite spiritual leaders of other religions. “Every faith is important,” he said, add- ing that he’s even looking for a second worship space for non-Catholics on campus.
For those who would question how far we should go to accommodate other faiths, Brother Michael was steadfast in his resolve. “I could argue that the most powerful way to evangelize is by example,” he said. “By the kindness in our eyes and the warmth of our smile. Hospitality is so important.”