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Embracing the Summer Return: Engaging College Students in Parish Life Embracing the Summer Return: Engaging College Students in Parish Life

As college students have returned home for the summer, parish leaders have a unique opportunity to welcome and engage these young adults in the life of the Church. This transitional period offers a chance to foster a deeper connection with college students, reigniting their faith and providing a supportive community during their time away from campus. Here are some practical strategies to engage college students who are home for the summer.

Ensure that your parish is a warm and inviting environment that college students feel comfortable returning to. You might consider working with young adults in your Family of Parishes to organize social events such as picnics, sports, game nights, museum tours, hikes, bonfires, etc., and promote these across your Family of Parishes and beyond. You can also encourage college students to actively participate in parish activities and join parish ministries.

Leverage the power of social media and online platforms such as our Detroit Catholic Young Adults Mighty Network to connect with college students. For a long-term strategy, establish and develop active social media accounts for your parish, perhaps with the help of young adults, and share engaging and relevant content.

Make sure your website is attractive and up to date. It is the digital front door to your parish. Are your Mass and confession times easy to find and clearly listed? Sometimes it’s not obvious where confession actually takes place even if the times are listed. Many young people go to our websites seeking this important and basic information, and we want to make sure to capture those opportunities for them to experience sacramental grace.

Recognize the unique spiritual needs of college students and provide opportunities for growth. Work with the young adults in your Family of Parishes to offer summer Bible and faith study small groups. Follow our Getting Started guide for help in forming small groups which includes guidance for group facilitators. Consider organizing talks for young adults with time before and after for young adults to socialize. These could address topics such as discerning God’s will, responding to the moral challenges and questions of the secular culture, etc. Get input from young adults on what they are looking for and what setting would be most attractive for them. Work with young adults to create these opportunities.

Inspire college students to make a positive impact by inviting them to participate in service and outreach initiatives. Work with young adults in your Family of Parishes to organize volunteer opportunities in partnership with local charities, food banks or community organizations. By actively engaging in acts of service, college students can witness the Gospel in action.

As college students return home for the summer, parish leaders have an opportunity to embrace and engage these young adults in parish life. By creating welcoming social, spiritual and service opportunities, offering relevant formation, and utilizing social media and online platforms, parish leaders can help cultivate community and faith in the hearts of college students empowering them to live as joyful, missionary disciples.