Last Sunday night I celebrated the student liturgy at St. Leo University and confirmed six of their members and offered First Eucharist to one. First let me begin by saying that it was a lovely liturgy and they had a roughly ten person choir who provided very appropriate and beautiful music for the liturgy. Father Stephan Brown, S.V.D. is in charge of Campus Ministry and invited me to be with his community. Normally I do not ever confirm during Lent but I made an exception this time at Father Brown’s request since Easter falls so late and there are only ten days of sch0ol left at St. Leo after the Easter break.
The liturgy on Sunday night took place in the Abbey Church although it usually occurs in a room at the student union. I suspect that St. Leo had a large share of students who go home on week-ends because they live so close to the University. Attendance of students at this liturgy was not large and the fact that Sunday Eucharist is celebrated in the Board Room of the student union indicates the challenges inherent in a campus ministry program for a school such as this.
St. Leo University has grown significantly in the last twenty-five years, for the first ten or eleven under the leadership of Monsignor Frank Mouch and for the last thirteen under the current president, Dr. Arthur Kirk, Jr. While its residential program on campus numbers about 2000 traditional four-year students, its outreach through distance learning and programs on military bases makes St. Leo about the fifteenth or sixteenth largest Catholic university in the nation.
I know a lot of graduates of our high schools who attend St. Leo and love it. They are certain that they are getting a first rate education for life after college and the graduates students are grateful for for the opportunities afforded them as well. It’s local, it’s Catholic, it’s educationally sound. – all good things. Soon they will dedicate a new building housing the School of Business and the campus has experienced such growth that it is impossible for me to locate a single picture which does the whole justice. St. Leo Prep which preceded St. Leo College which preceded St. Leo University was for many years an apostolic work of the Benedictine monks of St. Leo Abbey. A number of years ago the title and ownership of the college was turned over to basically a lay board of trustees who have taken bold ownership while still remaining committed to the Benedictine spirit and tradition of ora et labora, or “prayer and work.” Another part of the Benedictine spirit from their founder is that of hospitality and it was certainly in evidence on Sunday night. Congratulations to the confirmandi, to the campus ministry and peer ministry program and to all who keep the light of Saint Benedict and his sister Saint Scholastica alive.