Non-denominational service expands religious participation


The Well promises to reach out beyond the Catholic faith to other Christian denominations on campus.

Campus Ministry is introducing a new all-Christian worship service to the St. Edward’s community. This service, symbolically named “The Well,” allows students from all Christian denominations to worship together in bi-weekly services.

 “The Well is intended to provide people with the opportunity to grow in their faith tradition, whatever that may be,” Assistant Director of Campus Ministry Liza Manjarrez said. 

The Well is a service that provides worship through scripture, song, communion and fellowship.

Jennifer Veninga, assistant professor of religious and theological studies and ecumenical minster for Campus Ministry, recognized the need to reach out to community members outside of the Catholic faith.

“St. Edward’s has a lot of Catholic students, but we’ve got a lot of students who are of other denominations, and I thought maybe I could help provide some resources for those students and faculty who may be looking for a place [of worship] but don’t exactly know where to go.”

The name “The Well” was chosen because wells were used as gathering places in biblical times for community members to come together, renew their spirit and help one another as a community. 

 “I was thinking of an image of a place where people could renew themselves, renew their spirit and gather,” Veninga said. “The image of the well is very important in biblical literature. I figure we all need to drink from the well.”

Veninga, who has worked at St. Edward’s for four years, says that she immediately felt welcomed into the campus community.

“I absolutely love the Congregation of Holy Cross identity,” she said. “It’s rooted in Catholicism, but it really reaches out to others, both other Christians and non-Christians.

Veninga played a role in launching Campus Ministry’s Taize services last year, which are quiet, contemplative services that emphasize group chant and meditation. Although Taize services welcome all denominations of Christians, Veninga still saw a need for more traditional, non-denominational services.

“[Taize services] have been going really well, but I also had a vision to have another service where people could have communion in a more traditional worship space,” Veninga said. “Campus Ministry was super supportive. I worked a lot with James Puglisi, and we had our first service on [Sept.] 7. It was small, but I’m not too worried about that.”

The Well is held on the first and third Sunday of each month at 5 pm in Jones Auditorium, and Taize services are held on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 7 pm in St. Joseph’s Hall.

“I think it’s great that Campus Ministry has inclusive programs that allow people with different faiths to engage spiritually,” Enrique Burmeister, senior, said. “It creates a stronger sense of community and really shows how committed we are to our mission statement.”