SummaryIn college, students look forward to their opportunity to further their education and dig into their studies. The ‘Bosco Bundle’ is your own Faith-Aid Kit.
“My son wants to attend a college where he can obtain a degree in a professional field like math or science, but I am afraid he may lose his Catholic Faith! I have spent all these years homeschooling him in a Catholic program, but what will happen to him in college?”
These are serious concerns not only for Seton home schooling parents but for all Catholic parents. It can be very dangerous for young adults to attend a distant college, when the culture continues to turn against Christian values on all sides. What helps do parents have for their children to keep their Faith?
At Seton, we have heard from several of our graduates who are attending college that they take along the religion books they studied at Seton to help them explain the Faith to others who are weak in understanding or education.
In the Arlington Diocese, Father Christopher Vaccaro was assigned as chaplain to a secular college and saw the difficulties of Catholic college students trying to hold on to their faith. Even in many Catholic colleges, little attention is given to Catholic teachings, and even less to Catholic moral teachings, which is a disaster at this time when students most need to know the truths of the Church. Determined to make a difference, Father Vaccaro started an apostolate to help Catholic college students keep their Catholicism alive while they are attending college. The apostolate is called the Associates of St. John Bosco.
On their website, the Associates of St. John Bosco explain how they “support high school and college students in remaining faithful during this challenging part of life during challenging times.” Their work is accomplished through “(1) hosting College Nights to provide fun and informal social gatherings for rising and current college students, (2) scholarships for those studying at Catholic high school and colleges with a strong commitment to serving the Church in some capacity (priest, religious, DRE, youth minister, etc), and (3) support for colleges to bring vibrant and inspiring Catholic speakers to campus.”
In a recent talk delivered at an Arlington diocesan high school, Father Vaccaro noted that, “of those who go off to college, 80 percent will stop practicing their Faith.” He then declared that only 35 percent of them will return to their Catholic Faith after graduation.
To combat this problem, Father Vaccaro and the Associates of St. John Bosco host free College Night meetings for high school seniors. During these meetings, he gives away what he calls a Bosco Bundle™.
A Bosco Bundle™ consists of a Bible, a catechism, a desk crucifix, Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales, a book on relationships entitled Men, Women and the Mystery of Love, a book about the practical genius of Catholicism entitled Rediscover Catholicism, a rosary, and a prayer journal. Together these items provide a road map to living a Catholic Christian life, guidance on questions of faith and morals, and a blueprint for growing in faith and friendship with Jesus Christ.
Father Vaccaro and the Associates of St. John Bosco encourage recent graduates to put something else in their suitcase when they leave for college: their Catholic Faith. Father Vaccaro points out that unless there is a deliberate choice to grow in holiness and a decision to place prayer and the practice of the faith as a priority, then what often happens is the “busyness” of college life begins to consume the students.
With so many opportunities for involvement on campus, plus the academic time commitment, not to mention meeting and cultivating of friendships, the things of God are not deliberately rejected but they just slowly disappear. Preparing properly and finding a community that places God first in all things will allow students not only to hold on to their faith in college, but actually to grow in it!
At this time, the “Associates of St. John Bosco” operates primarily in the Northern Virginia area, but it would seem a great idea for other regions to implement such a program. Seton graduates surely can help fellow Catholic students by starting such a group to meet regularly for support in the Catholic Faith, and to encourage other Catholic students to attend daily Mass and go to Confession at least once a month.