By NATHAN VOELLER/Montana State News
Religious texts, game boards and other supplies are strewn across every surface of the Resurrection Catholic Campus Ministry office. In the midst of the seemingly random assortment of equipment sits Brian Greer, whose job is to help others make sense of chaos through spirituality and the Roman Catholic faith.
Greer, a 24-year-old graduate of Carroll College, serves as the campus ministry coordinator for Resurrection University Catholic Parish. He took the job shortly before the fall 2012 semester began, arriving only one day before the final orientation session for new students at Montana State University was scheduled to start. Since then, Greer has sought to provide students with the means to preserve or find their Catholic faith and sense of identity in the college environment.
“My job is to provide opportunities and events to keep students involved in their faith,” said Greer.
Before coming to MSU, Greer had accumulated experience in youth ministry through his work with REACH Ministries. According to the organization’s official website, REACH Ministries “builds relationships with youth and families with HIV/AIDS and other populations in need, in order to equip them for experiencing God’s design, which is a lifetime of hope and purpose.” Greer lived and worked with a team of employees who lead retreats for middle school and high school Catholic groups.
“REACH was really difficult. Community living was difficult. But it was a time of spiritual development and growth,” said Greer.
In his new position, Greer gets to utilize many of the same skills he used in his work with REACH Ministries. In spite of a self-professed inability to plan, Greer has provided a number of opportunities for students to contemplate their faith and interact with others who have similar perspectives on religious topics. Bible studies, retreats and viewings of religious films and television series have all been scheduled in an attempt to bring the Catholic students of MSU together.
“He’s not a planner, but everything gets done,” said Kristen Rausch, a Resurrection Catholic Campus Ministry member.
Greer said a solid contingent of students now regularly celebrate Mass, which is a good indication of faith among parishioners. However, he attributes the participation of students in both Mass and smaller group activities to their own dedication instead of his efforts.
“Students here are eager to be involved and even lead things,” he said.
According to members of Resurrection University Catholic Parish, however, Greer has had a large impact on the quality of events hosted by Resurrection Catholic Campus Ministry.
“For a long time, we did not have a head of campus ministry. He’s able to do it. He puts a very good face to the community. He’s made it into a consolidated thing. He’s opened doors,” said ministry member Edward Gillig.
The Rev. Val Zdilla of Resurrection University Catholic Parish said, “He has adapted well and has brought his own skills and Catholic experience to the ministry. He is present at all events and his door is always open.”
Greer’s devotion to his Catholic faith and Resurrection Catholic Campus Ministry is evident in his future plans. He hopes to provide more open communication between students and the church in the future to foster greater participation and understanding.
“The more people that get involved, the better discussion we will have,” he said.
Greer acknowledges that certain stances taken by the Roman Catholic Church are not popular with segments of the population, which could result in a barrier between some people and faith. However, he supports the Catholic Church’s traditional stance in regard to issues such as abortion and contraception.
“Church is always going to be countercultural,” said Greer.
However, he believes the Catholic Church should take greater action in regard to some issues which do not conflict with religious principles. Greer cites aid to the poor and issues concerning the environment as areas where expansion to meet the needs of the modern world could occur. Nevertheless, his philosophy is to allow the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church to determine the direction of Catholicism.
Greer said, “If it should be, it will be. The Spirit will guide the church into that frame of mind.”
No matter what stance the Catholic Church may take on popular social issues, Greer believes human beings are innately good, just and moral. College leads to a search for identity which can result in spiritual exploration and an awakening of faith despite political issues.
Career opportunities, outdoor activities and the availability of faith-based communities are top factors in the selection of a college, Greer said. As students seek to discover themselves, they gravitate toward organizations like Resurrection Catholic Campus Ministry. He believes no one can be or should be forced to make religion part of their lives.
“With college comes the search for identity. Spirituality finds its way out or at least gets explored,” Greer said. Later, he suggested that “everyone has an individual calling and their own way to express it.”
Greer does not believe college students are alone in their search for identity; he said that he is still waiting for his own calling. He plans to continue to help Resurrection Catholic Campus Ministry for a while and then choose a different path. He may take another position with the Catholic Church, go back to school or work with an environmental group.
“I enjoy seeking moments where you feel you are living life fully,” Greer said.
– Edited by Patrick Carroll