Campus Ministry at Roselle Catholic High School is not a club, but rather an invitation to our entire school community – students, especially, but faculty and parents, as well – to participate in our activities, an invitation that the majority of our school community responds to with a resounding "Yes." Major events in the Campus Ministry calendar include the class retreats at Esopus, liturgies for the church seasonal holy days, Festival of Lights in December, and various community service projects throughout the year.
Our philosophy is simple: we are all spiritual beings, no matter what our religious persuasion. We hold to the basic tenet that because we are all children of one God, we are brothers and sisters to each other. As such, we must love one another, and try to care for each other, especially those less fortunate. Thus, our activities seek to instill in all participants the belief that it is only through us - through our eyes and our ears and our hands - that God’s work can be done, that God’s love can be present in our world. Campus Ministry is built on three major areas: retreat, prayer and service.
Retreats are offered for all four years. They are an optional, but very popular part of life at Roselle Catholic. We use the Marist Brothers Retreat House in Esopus, NY, right on the Hudson River, a beautiful spot to which our students always want to return.
One of the major concerns in the successful transition to high school is the making of new friends. Before the first full day of classes, all incoming freshmen are invited to participate in the Esopus weekend, giving them the opportunity to meet their classmates, some of the upperclassmen and many of the faculty. Through organized games, activities and discussions, our new Freshmen begin to bond as a class and individual friendships are able to be formed. Upon returning home, students now have the ability to recognize new friends as they enter classes or the cafeteria. This program continues to be not only formative, but also most impressionable. Our upperclassmen continue to confirm that friendships made during this weekend last throughout their high school years.
During the fall semester of Sophomore year, students are given the opportunity to more fully explore the concepts of friendship on a deeper spiritual level. It is a chance to examine knowledge of self and peer relationships. Guided by upperclassmen and faculty, students come to a better understanding of human relationships.
In Junior year, the retreat program continues with a spiritual look at Relationships, specifically the one-on-one love relationships that help form the basis of future commitments. In a combination of light activities and serious discussion, a thought-provoking dialogue is begun. Participants are encouraged to continue this dialogue, upon returning home, with parents, faculty and other significant adults in their lives.
During the spring semester of the Senior year, the issue of “Transition” is once again at the forefront for Seniors preparing to move on to college. Students are invited for one last trip to Esopus, to honor the experiences they’ve come through together, and to look ahead to the future. This retreat is a chance for Seniors to explore together their doubts and fears, recount the strengths and wisdom they’ve gained from each other, as they discuss and share their excitement and anticipation about the future.
Open to those in the junior and senior year, Encounter is a program of deeper four day retreats, with students from the other Marist schools in the NY/NJ area. Encounter is held three times a year; Roselle Cat usually brings 10-12 students to each of these retreats.
Every day at Roselle Catholic begins with prayer over the PA. In conjunction with our Religion Department, we work to help each student explore, develop and experience spiritual growth. During the course of the year, Campus Ministry provides a variety of liturgical experiences. School-wide prayer services are offered at the opening of school, Thanksgiving, Ash Wednesday and other appropriate religious occasions. Liturgy of the Eucharist is offered for our Junior Ring Ceremony and Senior Baccalaureate. During the weeks of Advent and Lent, class liturgies and special events are scheduled. We also conduct communion services each morning in the chapel, which are open to the entire school community. In all of these, students play a major part in the planning, as well as participating as readers, leaders of song and dance.
Adolescence is a time of tremendous self-examination and self-centeredness, a necessary process through which all children must go. However, that self-absorption can be too much at times. Students who get involved in Campus Ministry and other service projects are helped to keep a balance, to see that there are other perspectives on life, and that it is important to work to help others, even in small ways.
Service activities include Halloween candy collection, Thanksgiving food drive, blood drives and more. We have an on-going relationship with the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, St. Joseph Social Service Center and Bridges, which is our outreach to those who are homeless.
Our Summer Service Days see over 100 students come back to RC for the first three days of summer vacation, to be sent out to various agencies and private homes to help with clean-up, painting, sorting food and helping wherever needed.
Our annual spring break trip to West Virginia allows our students to experience another part of the country, where poverty is extreme.
Festival of lights
Festival is a two-night celebration of word, music and dance – but it is also much, much more. It begins in October with the choir rehearsals – and the choir is a perfect example of who gets involved in Campus Ministry. All walks of Roselle Catholic life are represented - sports teams, yearbook, drama, and gamers.
Festival is also the Giving Tree, where over 300 gifts are brought in by our students and faculty, and distributed to families in our communities. It is 120 students making Gingerbread Houses that are sold to raise funds for our service trips. It is over 30 clubs, classes and teams decorating table-top Christmas trees for delivery to area nursing homes. It is music practices in the chapel and dancers rehearsing in classrooms. The school is buzzing with activity for a month and a half – until performance nights.
It doesn’t end there, however – after the performances, the real work of Christmas begins - toys, food and trees are delivered throughout the county by our senior students, with the help of many faculty members.