New school, new life, new spiritual community.
Students who are new to the University of Colorado — or returning students exploring their faith in a new way — have plenty of options for finding a church, prayer group, meditation group or gathering that best fits their spiritual wants and needs.
Zach Parris, president of CU’s Religious Campus Organization, said the RCO helps students connect with the faith-based groups that best fits them. The organization participates in campus events throughout the year to help acquaint students with faith-based groups, but also maintains a website that allows students to explore their on-campus faith options with a few clicks.
RCO brings together more than 30 faith-based groups to support students’ diverse beliefs, Parris said.
CU has “a wide diversity, a whole wide range of options,” he said.
Joining a group also can help students find supportive communities that build faith while supporting academics and personal life, Parris said.
“To succeed in college, you have to be brave enough to raise your hand and take all these positive risks. With the support of an organization like a campus ministry … you know there is a group that will support and hold you even if you fail,” he said.
Students looking for their own place in religious life don’t have to leave campus to find it. You can learn more about campus religious groups face to face during an information fair throughout Sept. 3, near the fountain at the UMC.
Students also can explore their options from the comfort of their laptops or smartphones using RCO’s search engine, which easily connects students with groups that include Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. Check out RCO at colorado.edu/studentgroups/rco.
Here’s a a small sampling of more than 30 faith-related organizations on campus:
Chabad at CU
Jewish organization Chabad at CU is in the midst of a big expansion. The organization is renovating a building at 909 14th St. that will be a hub for Shabbat dinners, social gatherings and study sessions each week.
Rabbi Yisroel Wilhelm, who used to host Chabad events out of his own home, said the new building is meant to “really make students feel like they’re loved and can be themselves. That’s the greatest l’chaim,” or celebration of life.
Events include weekly services, dinners, holiday celebrations and even impromptu activities with some of the neighborhood’s other religious groups. Chabad and students from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church held a neighborhood basketball game last year.
For more information, visit facebook.com/jewishcu.
Muslim Students’ Association
The Muslim Students’ Association provides ways for students to study the Koran, celebrate Islamic holidays and discuss community issues. Yet the club isn’t just for Muslims — the group invites students who are curious about Islam or have questions about its practices.
One of the biggest events is the MSA’s annual “Sights and Sounds of the Islamic World” event, which invites people to learn more about Islam through dance, music and food. Last year’s event, held in the UMC Glenn Miller Ballroom, included a fashion show and booths with information about cultures and traditions from Muslim countries.
For more information about events and meetings, visit facebook.com/MSACUBoulder
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church’s student center, 1520 Euclid Ave., has a large body of students who attend weekly mass and social events.
The church welcomes Catholics and students who are interested in finding out more about Catholic faith. It also has an academic branch, The Aquinas Institute for Catholic Thought, which hosts a series of lectures throughout the year. Lectures are open to everyone, regardless of faith background.
In past years, the Aquinas Institute has held lectures and debates on topics such as God and politics, the death penalty and feminism in Catholicism.
St. Thomas Aquinas also holds regular masses, student-centered events and celebrations throughout the year, including an open-air mass at 6 p.m. Aug. 24 at Farrand Field.
The church has a tongue-in-cheek podcast, called Lanky Guys, that discusses scripture with Father Peter Mussett and Scott Powell, director of scriptural formation.
For more information, visit thomascenter.org.
Secular Students and Skeptics Society
Some students are interested in exploring religion, philosophy and science without joining a specific religious group. Those who consider themselves to be atheists, agnostics or thinkers who want to debate world issues through the lens of philosophy, can join Secular Students and Skeptics Society.
The group believes in acknowledging the “beauty and mystery of the universe around us, the incredible diversity of the life, the power of the individual, and our own ability to help the human condition, free of myths, faith, and dogmas,” according to its Facebook group.
The group holds panel discussions, film screenings and lectures open to people of all faiths and backgrounds.
Last year, the group celebrated Carl Sagan Day with a discussion and a screening of his popular 1980 show “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” which has since been rebooted as “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” with host Neil Degrasse Tyson.
For more information, visit ssass.org.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Megan Quinn at 303-410-2649 or firstname.lastname@example.org.