Campus Ministry leaders discuss challenges brought by COVID-19, explain how they adapted to changes


Jessie Guerriero/ Campus Ministry

Hilltoppers enjoy a socially-distanced game of volleyball at the Emerge Retreat. Campus Ministry found a way to help retreaters enjoy activities, all while keeping COVID-19 regulations in mind.

COVID-19 has led university departments and organizations to restructure their original plans intended for the fall semester. For the Campus Ministry department, coordinators and student leaders made significant adjustments to continue providing their services in a safe and accessible environment for all participants. 

Retreats Program Coordinator Jessie Guerriero spoke of the major changes Campus Ministry has made in order to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Guerriero, mass is offered at noon Monday through Friday at a limited capacity, and Sunday mass is only available live streamed at 8 p.m. Communion is available both in a walk-up and drive-thru option in front of the Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel on campus. 

For programs and events happening in person, we take all the standard precautions of masks, limited capacity and social distancing. Retreats have been no exception to this, and we work to offer safe and engaging opportunities both in person and online,” Guerriero said. 

Calista Robledo, who serves as both the Mass and Spiritual Development Coordinator, also shared insight as to how Campus Ministry has reorganized their plans to host events. “If we host a program where it’s okay to just have it over Zoom then we’ll do that. If it does make sense to have in person and over Zoom, then we will do both,” Robledo said. 

From Sept. 20 to Sept. 24, Robledo was a student leader who was part of hosting Campus Ministry’s Freshman Escape. The retreat this year had five in-person groups and two groups who met virtually. She explained how in order to follow social distancing guidelines, it was an asynchronous retreat where participants chose what time to meet with their groups and group leaders over the course of the retreat. 

Similar plans were followed for the upperclassmen Emerge Retreat that took place Nov. 13 through Nov. 15. The coordinators had the opportunity to host both an online Zoom group and an in-person portion of the retreat for student participants. 

It wasn’t quite the same as going away to a camp as we normally would for retreat, but it was pretty close. The essence of retreat has remained the same and we have seen the importance of connecting hilltoppers with other hilltoppers and offering time for self-reflection and community,” Guerriero said.

Collaboration has been the strongest tool Campus Ministry coordinators have used to overcome challenges the pandemic has brought. 

I think the biggest thing in how we work together is that we all understand that this is a big learning experience. We are all helping each other out so that has been the biggest thing this semester,” Robledo said.

Guerriero mentioned how these last few months of the semester have been interesting to manage, but Campus Ministry staff have worked thoroughly to ensure things run smoothly. “I think we have been creative in opportunities to offer students and have worked hard to make sure that we keep it safe for everyone involved.”