Tuesday, February 25, 2020 UTC

KEEPING CONNECTED WHILE AT COLLEGE

Horizons has launched a unique family and youth ministry resource that intends to help Byzantine Catholic youth include faith in their choice of a college.  “Keeping Connected While at College: A National College Directory for Byzantine Catholic Youth and Their Parents” lists colleges and universities across the United States located within a 20-minute drive from a Byzantine Catholic church.  The directory includes every parish, mission and outreach of the four Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic eparchies in the country.

The project is a response to statistics in recent years which indicate that young people continue to abandon their faith during their college years.  This decline is the result of a combination of factors.  However, for some Byzantine Catholic youth, it is facilitated by the fact that their colleges of choice do not have Byzantine Catholic churches nearby

Horizons editor Laura Ieraci said the directory, which includes more than 100 colleges and universities, is also an attempt to “start a new movement in our Byzantine Catholic community — a change in the dominant mindset — that sees the Byzantine Catholic faith and faith practice within our particular tradition as a significant factor to consider in choosing the ‘right’ college or university.” 

“Faith is either on the back burner or not a factor at all in the selection process,” said Ieraci.  “Our directory is encouraging families to do the opposite — to make faith a priority when choosing a school for a young adult’s most formative years.”

The national college directory is “not only a handy tool but an absolute necessity” said Father Thomas Loya, director of the Marriage and Family Ministry of Parma, in the foreword.  “The ‘mortality rate’ of faithfulness to church teaching and to church involvement during the young adult years is extremely high.”

College students “need to be connected with structures and people who will help them navigate through the often stormy psycho-spiritual transitions from childhood to adulthood.  Structure and people are necessary for the young person to retain a continuity in their faith,” he said.

A good education and a good career path need not exclude faith, said Deacon Nicholas Szilagye, who penned the introduction to the directory.  The retired physician is a member of Horizons’ editorial board, and he and his wife, Kathryn Kranack, dedicated about 80 hours per month for five months to compile the list of colleges for the directory.

College should include the formation of the whole person, and the spiritual life must be a part of it, too, the deacon wrote.  He also shared how his personal choice for schools, internships and residency were informed by where he could “keep my Byzantine Catholic faith alive, as well as forge ahead with my career.” Loretta Nemeth also provides tips to parents and parishes on how to keep college students connected to the Byzantine Catholic faith.

The directory is available for free at: www.parma.org/horizons/collegedirectory.

By Horizons Staff (official newspaper of the Eparachy of Parma)