- What is the Catholic population on campus?
It recovered from a low point of 60 during the absence of a priest and is now about 250. The population at Mass on campus varies as to season, family visits, and studies. There are two close parish churches. (When you attend these churches, please consider wearing Wesleyan identification. It is good for the town and gown when you go.)
- What is the Mass like?
The preference of the students is rather low-key. There is no effort to bunch up students until the Eucharistic prayer starts. Then it is only a general invitation to come up around the altar. Surprisingly, the students come up at that time. It seems they need a transition time.
The music depends on the students. The space is a Methodist chapel space so it is a challenge for Catholics to match the volume of a typical Methodist congregation. At any rate, the emphasis is on singing the Mass and not singing AT Mass.
Confessions, requested by the way in a student survey, are before Mass or by appointment.
- How is the Catholic chaplaincy connected to the whole Church?
The bishop of Norwich gives Wesleyan University about half the budget for the chaplain’s salary. There is a Dean for Campus Ministry, Fr. Laurence LePointe, who is very supportive of the chaplaincy and explicitly wanted an Oratorian to come here. In return, Fr. Hal attends deanery and diocesan functions both for Wesleyan and campus ministry awareness in general.
Fr. Hal’s community is a federation of Oratory houses and is international. There is an intention to found a new house in Middletown.
- What about Catholics and a social life at Wesleyan?
Like Fr Hal at Punahou, Catholics seem to have their own social life so the Catholic chaplaincy does not attract people who want to eat and socialize. Small groups are the general rule and sometimes special food after a feast day Mass or on graduation day.
- What about special programs?
The rhythm at this point is a special program in the autumn and in the spring Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter are the big events. The academic calendar prevails against the church calendar so what is really important to Catholics gets washed out from time to time. We do not anticipate things such as Christmas. We observe Advent and Lent and do not move feast days to suit the Wesleyan calendar.
- What kinds of Catholics are at Wesleyan?
Well, it takes all kinds and we have at least one of each. Every Catholic knows these are not easy times. The goal of the chaplaincy, minimally, but really, is for the Catholic students to accept themselves in their own faith journey and give space to other Catholics. In short, nobody should feel obliged to excommunicate themselves or others.