Story by Reagan Scott
DAVID CITY (SNR) - This year, all 169 students in grades 9-12 at Aquinas in David City will participate in spiritual direction.
The goal is to help all of them develop a personal relationship with Christ and prepare them to leave Aquinas as intentional disciples.
Beth Nemec, director of campus ministry at Aquinas and St. Mary Schools, credits Father Benjamin Holdren, the school chaplain, with getting the project started.
“In the past,” Nemec said, “one-on-one spiritual direction was available for the students, but only a small percent were taking advantage of it.”
As a result, the decision was made to require spiritual direction through the students’ religion classes. Each student will meet with a spiritual advisor once a semester.
“We had to ask ourselves, ‘How can we reach every student?’ This was a way to achieve that,” Nemec said. “We are able to have contact with each and every one of them, no matter where they are in their relationship with God.”
To make the students more comfortable, they have the opportunity to schedule appointments with one or two of their classmates if they wish, and they are able to choose which spiritual advisor they would like to speak to. Each meeting is scheduled for half an hour and takes place during the school day.
“Our goal is that they feel comfortable going to a priest for help and spiritual direction,” Nemec said. “We want students to get used to having a go-to person they can trust.”
This year, five priests, one deacon, Nemec and a parent volunteer are serving as spiritual advisors for the students. She commented that all have been very responsive to helping the students and giving of their time.
Father Corey Harrison, a teacher at Aquinas and Associate Pastor at Saint Mary Church in David City, said that each session is an opportunity to talk to the students and let them know that they are loved by school faculty, and Our Lord.
“There’s been a good response,” Father Harrison said. “The students appreciate the time spent with them and it’s a different experience than in the classroom.”
In just a few weeks, all of the students will have gone through spiritual direction once, and Nemec said that the response from the students has been very positive. She also said that many other students will be returning for more spiritual direction upon request.
Nemec said, “Personally, my prayer and hope is that they will know they are truly loved by Christ as sons and daughters of the Father. And, because of that love, they discern God’s will in choices that they make when they go off to college. It’s all about love.”