Campus Catholic Ministry: What's Going On?
Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 1, 2011 17:12
One of the most active organizations at William Paterson University has more or less collapsed after decades of offering charitable services.
The Rev. Louis Scurti, ministry founder who served for many years as Catholic campus minster, said that, throughout the years, hundreds of students were members of the club.
"I'm saddened," said Scurti, "because students contact me and say they want activities and I can't …I have no role."
Catholic Campus Ministry was founded, Scurti said in a recent interview, "for social service, self-awareness and spiritual programming. So my role was to integrate campus ministry in any way possible on campus to the academics, social outreach, and volunteer works.
Scurti was replaced in July 2010 by the Rev. Hubert Jurjewicz. Since that time, the number of active students in Catholic ministry has declined appreciably. Jurjewicz said recently that the current lack of student participation results from the economy.
"They don't have money for education," said Jurjewicz about WPU students. "So they're working."
He also said their jobs are too far away from campus to allow them to participate actively.
The club still exists and has not been deactivated from the Student Government Association. Daniela Garay, the most recent president of the club, said in an email that the club is trying to rebuild its executive and does not have a president. Garay, a junior, is still a club member, but stepped down as president within the past month. She said the official roster shows 20 students have signed up for the club and explained that the executive board is being developed to bring the club back together.
"I joined the club because I am an active member of my church at home," wrote Garay. "I am a commuter and wanted to meet new people that are part of a club that I could relate to and find interest."
Jurjewicz said Garay is an active, hard-working student but couldn't do everything on her own, especially when she had little support from others.
Right now, Jurjewicz meets with students depending on their schedule.
"Time changes," explained Jurjewicz. "We have to be flexible."
He said students gather in the ministry center to watch movies, do homework and discuss anything that students want to do.
Various activities are still arranged. For example Bible study occurs twice a month, and outreach programs once a month. It is all up to the students, according to Jurjewicz.
The change in ministry campus leadership was determined by Bishop Arthur Serratelli of the Diocese of Paterson. In a 2010 statement written by Scurti (available in his website, www.frlouscurtiministry.com) he describes the way he was informed of the decision and notes that Serratelli had a new vision that did not involve Scurti for campus ministry.
Garay said the transition has been difficult, as is any change. Jurjewicz was assigned fulltime to WPU last year. Since then, he has become the diocese's director of vocations and the director of Domus Bartimaeus, House of Discernment. So he now works on a part-time schedule at the CCMC.
Unlike Scurti, who was fulltime and lived in the chapel's rectory, Jurjewicz lives elsewhere.
"I'm here Monday through Friday, usually in the afternoons," said Jurjewicz. "But I'm always available to talk…students can call or email me for an appointment."
Jurjewicz often has independent meetings with students who ask for guidance. Often, during the periods in which he meets with students, the chapel remains closed, he said, to avoid any interruptions. But the chapel is always open when someone such as his assistant, Philip Russo, is in the rectory.
Last year, mass service was offered every day, but not anymore simply because people do not come, Jurjewicz said. Mass service is celebrated on Sundays at 7 p.m.
"Ministry‘s schedule around the university's," said Jurjewicz.
That means when the university is closed, the ministry is closed.
When Scurti was at WPU, he founded CCMC Communications, a production studio whose main show, "The World Alive and Well," had millions of viewers nationwide. The studio was located at CCMC.
So what happened to it?
According to Jurjewicz, the studio no longer belongs to the ministry center and has been relocated to the evangelic center directed by the Rev. Geno Sylva of the Paterson Diocese.
"Before the bishop shut us down," Scurti said, "we had just gotten a $50, 000 grant from the [Charles] Koch Foundation for the studio."
Other things are different at CCM. For example, Scurti officiated marriages, but Jurjewicz said every sacrament has to be registered in the book of the parish and CCMC is not a parish.
"We don't give blessings for marriage and Baptism...we advise and prepare you…we help with all documentation and send it to your parish," said Jurjewicz.
Another change is the phone number. Up until last year, callers were connected to the CCMC when they called the university's main number (ext.3524). That number no longer exists. Now the direct number is 973.595.6184, which is not affiliated with the school system.