The Catholic University of America

Sept. 7, 2012

Prayer and Pizza in CUA Residence Halls


Rev. Jim Sabak, O.F.M., at the altar of the Sacred Heart Chapel in Catholic University’s Flather Hall.

Junior Dan O’Connell, a resident assistant at Catholic University’s Flather Hall, sometimes slips into the Sacred Heart Chapel on the first floor for a few minutes of silent reflection.

O’Connell, an international business major from Albany, N.Y., also attends Mass at the chapel in the men’s residence hall and spends time with Rev. Christian Raab, O.S.B., who lives in the building. Flather’s chapel and Father Christian's presence in the residence hall are part of the University’s ongoing efforts to enhance the spiritual experience of students during their years at CUA.

Father Christian, a monk from Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana and a doctoral student in systematic theology, is a member of the University’s Religious in Residence program. He and three women religious who live in Regan and Reardon halls provide a ministry of presence to students.

The Flather chapel is the third one in a CUA residence hall. The oldest chapel on campus, St. Paul’s, is in Caldwell, the oldest residence hall. The other is in Opus Hall, where students pray before the Blessed Sacrament. The Religious in Residence program and the addition of chapels in Flather and Opus are new initiatives undertaken by the University in the last two years.

In addition to the clergy and religious living in the residence halls, Catholic University has a faculty-in-residence program that dates back at least 17 years, to the development of a residential college program in Regan. This year the University has faculty living in three residence halls.

Father Sabak, who helped start the Gentlemen of Flather student group at Catholic University, and Rev. Andy Santamauro, O.F.M. Conv., associate chaplain for graduate and law students.


Rev. Jude DeAngelo, O.F.M Conv., University chaplain and director of Campus Ministry, says the chapels and Religious in Residence program provide students with “immediate access to a place for prayer and the sacraments. It’s a gift for young people, especially those who may not have had that much direct interaction in the past with clergy and religious.

“They can get to know happy and healthy priests and sisters and begin to understand why they took that path and realize this might be a life choice they could make.”

As part of his ministry, Father Christian provides guidance to the Gentlemen of Flather, a group started last year by Rev. Jim Sabak, O.F.M. The group promotes faith, valor, integrity, and perseverance through community service and social activities, such as pizza parties, held in the Flather Lounge.

“The Gentlemen of Flather embrace a vision of manhood that aligns with Christian values at a time when young men are transitioning to college,” notes Father Christian. “We strive to make God part of that transition.”
Sister Maria Frassati, O.P., a graduate student in English, and Sister Stephen Patrick, O.P., a graduate student in biology, share an apartment in Regan, and Sister Ruth Harkins, I.H.M., a doctoral student in ministry, lives in Reardon.

In an essay that ran last month in The Tower student newspaper, Sister Maria notes that the program gives students “the freedom to ask. I don’t just mean the questions we field about roommate trouble, relationships, discerning God’s will, and how on earth we keep our habits clean.”

Rather, she says, “I am especially thinking of all the unasked questions … questions about human happiness, about fulfillment, about ultimate meaning …” that students may not even realize they are asking themselves.

In her essay, Sister Maria says she hopes that “small moments,” when students see her and other religious at Mass, at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center, at the John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library, “eventually build a relationship of trust; trust in us, trust in the Church at large.

“If we can create this kind of place for you, a place to lay your troubles down, a place to be honest with yourself and with us, then what we do here, or rather, who we are here, is most effective,” she writes. “We want to build you up, support you, give you tools you need to grow, and give you freedom to be yourselves.”

MEDIA: For more information, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy Hines in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.



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