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College Connection: Diocese helps connect

27 students with campus ministry

By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register

It can be somewhat intimidating to go off to college: leaving home for the first time; saying goodbye to family and friends; suddenly living in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar people.
By connecting new students with the school’s Catholic Campus Center, the Diocese of Dodge City “College Connection” program offers students a firm, faith foundation on which they can start their college life.
Michelle Wehkamp of Ingalls recently finished her first year at Kansas State University. Upon her arrival in Manhattan, she became involved at St. Isadore Parish, which serves the Catholic student community. Eventually, she would be attending a weekly Tuesday night rosary followed by Mass, 9:30 a.m. Sunday Mass, and a Thursday night praise and worship gathering. It didn’t happen immediately. Like so many new students, Michelle didn’t know anybody when she first arrived. She attended Mass and made friends, some of whom were involved with the campus ministry. Father Jarett Konrade invited the students to get involved. By her second semester, Michelle was attending the weekly rosary, and Mass twice weekly. And she was having a lot of fun.
“There’s so much there to offer,” she said. “They definitely have a lot for you to get involved with.”
Besides praise and worship, the Catholic Student Center offers everything from canoe trips to bowling to ice skating.
“I think it’s really important,” Michelle said. “You need that time as a college student. It was very good to help you de-stress and to have a great relationship with God.
“Everyone there was so welcoming and nice,” she said. “It’s a great way to meet friends.”
The College Connection program runs prior to each new school year.
This year, the Vocations Office helped connect high school seniors and transfer students from the diocese to 27 colleges/schools so that they would be invited to continue to enrich their Catholic faith at their new college home in the Fall.  
Connections were made to the following colleges/schools: Benedictine College, Bethel College, Butler Community College, Colby Community College, Dodge City Community College, Emporia State University, Fort Hayes State University, Garden City Community College, Hutchinson Community College, Heritage College, Kansas Wesleyan University, Kansas State University, NCK Tech, Newman University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Northwestern Missouri State University, Oklahoma State University, Pratt Community College, Seward County Community College, St. Louis University, Sterling College, Truman State University, Tulsa School of Welding, University of Kansas, Washburn University, Wichita State University, and Pittsburg State University.
“Some of the greatest activity in the Catholic Church today is centered on college campuses,” noted Becky Hessman, Coordinator for Vocations for the Diocese of Dodge City.
St. Isidore’s Catholic Student Center at Kansas State University offers not only a host of social activities, it also offers mission trips, service projects such as serving at nursing homes and providing Thanksgiving dinner for senior citizens, and even becoming Eucharistic Ministers and bringing Communion to local hospitals. There are Bible studies, Thursday evening praise and worship, RCIA, and several retreats offered throughout the year.
“I want to thank the many people who participated in College Connection 2013 in the Diocese of Dodge City,” Hessman stressed. “Graduating seniors, transfer students, parents, grandparents, Godparents, youth ministers, and others submitted information during the months of April and May so that the Vocations Office could connect these new students to their new Catholic Campus Center.”
If you have a student who will be graduating from high school next spring, or who will be transferring to another college, watch for the next diocese College Connection program, which will occur in April and May of 2014.

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