The Most Reverend John O. Barres, bishop of Allentown, drew a large crowd when he spoke during Solidarity Mondays in McShea on October 17.
More than 100 students came out to hear Barres speak on solidarity and friendship.
He began with a prayer and then dove into the issue of friendship, calling it a beautiful, communal experience. He drew on his own friendships during his time at Princeton University, and one in particular with actor David Duchovny, star of The X-Files and Californication, whom Barres still keeps in touch with to this day. “David and I have really different world views,” he said. “But we connect at a very deep level.”
It’s that kind of lifelong connection Barres urged students to make. He also spoke about a track star at Princeton whose goal was to meet a new person everyday. “Let's be open to being really adventurous at friendship; open yourself to a whole range of people,” he said.
While Barres encouraged students to develop a wide range of friendships, he also talked about ways to build relationships in the context of the Catholic faith. He urged the audience to take a few minutes each day to read a chapter of the gospels and to see the face of Christ in the people they meet. “It's so easy for us to accept the temptations of lukewarmness, to surrender to the temptation of superficiality,” he said. “Your Catholic faith is calling you to something unbelievably heroic.”
Before his speech, Barres took time to walk around the room and introduce himself to students. Afterwards, he answered questions and posed for pictures. “He is a bishop that is very involved in higher education,” said Maggie Riggins, director of campus ministry. “He wanted to become a big part of helping to form the faith lives of people.”
Talk with students and they’ll tell you Barres is doing just that. “So many people that might not be very deep in their faith lives, I think hearing the talk from the bishop tonight might cause them to take the extra step to deepen their faith lives,” said Jaci Wendel, an English and philosophy major.
Matthew Trovato, a psychology and philosophy major, calls Barres theologically enlightening. “I enjoyed the talk very much and I thought that his theological insights help to bring awareness to the vibrancy of the Catholic faith that a lot of people are not aware of.
Solidarity Mondays in McShea is a brand-new program involving campus ministry and other student life offices. It’s held once a month on a wide variety of topics. For more information on campus ministry, contact Riggins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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