March 29, 2017
Handing on The Spirit: Sisters in Ministry is a series of writings that feature our Sisters in action! The Sisters share how their ministries advance the Society’s mission and hand on our Holy Child values — compassion, confidence, creativity, respect, and joy — to others.
By Barbara Bartlett, SHCJ, Howard University Catholic Campus Ministry (Newman Club), Washington, DC
During my first years in Washington, DC, I met a native Nigerian priest who was the Howard University Chaplain. At that time, we both had been studying for a degree. He invited me to join him in his ministry at the University. I did so and met regularly with students for Sunday liturgies and Thursday evening meetings as well as other activities. These weekly meetings rotate between Bible Study, informational sessions on “What does it mean to be a Catholic?“ and “Out of the Box” activities which are more recreational. We also participate in reflective experiences through prayer and meditation. Chaplains came and went until Deacon Joseph Bell, an African American, arrived. He and I set up a program of priests for the sacramental needs of the members. The variety of celebrants is enriching but at times scheduling them is not! Many students are involved in the liturgy (this year, our greatest number of students involved in Sunday Mass has been around 40). Others are being encouraged to become involved in the newsletter, volunteer projects, and inter-collegiate activities. I assist with the planning and implementation of programs.
What is most challenging to me is to try to inculcate in the young people the importance of developing a relationship with Christ and to live what they believe as Catholics. Deacon Bell is a very collegial person to interact with and always open to my suggestions and questions. The students are fun, challenging, energizing, inspirational, frustrating…and so the list could go on. I feel privileged to be part of their spiritual formation and know that they play a special role in mine.
Barbara also ministers at the McKenna Center for Homeless Men and at Bethlehem House for Developmentally Challenged Adults.