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The Deacon's Bench

201012012629.jpgA new order of sisters is having an impact on campus ministry in California — and what they’re managing to do is impressive.

Details, San Francisco Catholic:

It’s easy to get lost among the 30,000 students at San Francisco State University.

But a small group of Catholics, led by an innovative, relatively new order of young Catholic nuns, is raising the profile of Catholic campus ministry – setting up tables in the center of campus each week, chalking on the sidewalks and pathways, and holding weekly dinners and on-campus Bible classes with pizza – known as “Scripture Bites.”

“We’re small but we’re growing,” said SF State sophomore Katie Ortega, who moved from the San Fernando Valley, and is active in SF State’s Newman Center, under the guidance of St. Thomas More Campus Ministry administrator Msgr. Labib Kobti.

Students go on hikes, bowl, play soccer and just hang out with each other.

Monthly Masses in the Cesar Chavez Student Center often draw hundreds of students happy to have an opportunity to attend Mass on campus. The Catholic student group also volunteers with the Missionaries of Charity at their soup kitchen and their AIDS hospice. Each year the Newman Center organizes a Peace Day, with each participant singing a song, reading a poem or otherwise sharing their ideas of peace in a lunch time event that attracts students between classes.

“Honestly I went for the pizza first – the free food on Thursdays,” said senior Kyle Schlehner. “They really opened my heart and mind to God and what he has to teach. That is when I became more involved in my faith.”

Msgr. Kobti is enthusiastic about the women religious of Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity. Its young, often pants-clad novices and women religious have invigorated SF State’s campus ministry, he says. They are also a “great, great help” at St. Thomas More Parish where the 8 p.m. Sunday Mass attracts many students.

“It’s a really inclusive group. Everyone feels welcome,” said Sister Sara Postlethwaite, who “tables,” setting up tables in the SF State quad and handing out flyers once or twice a week with the students. “Everyone looks out for the other one.”

Read on to find out more about this new order and the work they do. Bless ’em.

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