By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — The campus ministry team at St. Ambrose University looks forward to having students back on campus and hopes for more in-person activities this year. Two new members also join the team.
Father Ross Epping is the new chaplain and Nicky Gant is the new coordinator of Service and Justice. One of her roles is to plan mission trips. Lauren Bollweg is beginning her third year as coordinator of Music Ministry and Tammy Norcross-Reitzler begins her eighth year as director of Campus Ministry.
Norcross-Reitzler said the team hopes to gather in small and large groups for liturgy, service, faith sharing, music and fun. The biggest hope is more in-person gatherings. She said the capability to livestream and record with a mounted camera and sound system in the chapel has been completed.
“When we weren’t able to have in-person Mass at Christ the King Chapel we celebrated Sunday Mass in the KALA studio and it was broadcast live on their radio station. When we did livestream Mass, we used cellphones to livestream on Instagram and Facebook.
The picture quality wasn’t too bad, but the audio was not good and it really frustrated me,” she said. “We tried a wireless mic, but it still wasn’t great. So, thanks to a generous donation from Father George McDaniel, we now have the capability of livestreaming and recording in the chapel.”
Norcross-Reitzler said the team has not decided whether to livestream Mass every week. “We are hoping that students will want to come to the chapel to celebrate Mass together. We have the capability (to livestream), so if there’s a need we can do so.”
Just one retreat (the fall Antioch retreat) had to be cancelled last year because of the pandemic; the other retreats were held with modifications to meet COVID-19 restrictions, Norcross-Reitzler said. The peer campus ministers worked hard to offer an on-campus version of the “Bee Connected New Student Retreat” and the spring Antioch retreat, she said. Students slept in their own residence halls. Campus food service personnel helped with box lunches and space for the students to eat while social distancing.
“We used the chapel and Rogalski Center ballroom for prayer and some of the sessions because both spaces are large enough for the students to be socially distanced. The student leaders did a great job of thinking through the whole retreat and figuring out how to adapt to the COVID restrictions. Everyone had to wear masks of course. The students were so grateful to be able to participate in person.”
One of the student leaders was quarantined during the New Student Retreat last September, but her small group Face-timed with her a couple of times. For the spring Antioch retreat, Norcross-Reitzler said a new person was added to the team and “was like an under-study. She was prepared to lead a virtual group if students who registered couldn’t attend in person. She was also prepared to step into one of the other roles on the team if a team member got sick or in quarantine. Thankfully neither of those situations happened.”
The campus ministry team plans to host retreats this school year.