Bowdoin’s Catholic Student Union (CSU) fosters unity and strength through shared faith and experiences. Despite its members being scattered across the country, CSU has maintained a regular schedule that includes weekly meetings, mass watch parties, prayers and meditation.
Additionally, the group hosted an All Souls Day prayer service, available to all students, on Monday. The event, held on the eve of Election Day, was meant to be a platform for students to unwind and unpack stress from rigorous academics and high-stakes civic engagement.
“We had a pretty good turnout,” club officer Ryan Kovarovics ’23 said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “Our campus minister from the diocese put together a little service with some readings from the Bible and some prayers.”
Kovarovics connected the importance of faith with present-day events, which were a key focus of the All Souls Day service.
“[The prayer service] was a good time to reflect, remember and pray for those who have died [as well as for] our country, leaders and people as they vote today,” he said. “It was [nice to] be reminded of the faith that gives me peace in these times.”
Faith plays an incredibly important role as individuals and groups grapple with intense loss, estrangement and frustration due to the ongoing political, social and public health crises. Spirituality can anchor an individual during times of strife.
Mark Lucy ’21, a leader of CSU, recognizes the importance of faith during times of stress related to COVID-19 and political tension surrounding this week’s election.
“While we’re not a partisan group, I think it’s generally true that most of us are saddened by the heightened state of political and social tensions in America,” CSU leader Mark Lucy ’21 wrote in an email to the Orient. “Faith helps us remain focused on who we are as humans and what we are meant to be. We attempt to let this perspective inform a lot of what our group tries to do, especially in a semester and situation like this.”
Although CSU has been successful with sustaining community with its current members, engaging new members has been a challenge. Kovarovics lamented the group’s struggle to engage first-year students and the wider campus community.
“It’s hard because none of our leaders are on campus,” Kovarovics said. “We’ve made the most of it and tried [creating] spaces for first years to come and have fellowship.”
Lucy also addressed the difficulty of coordinating inclusive events during a remote semester.
“In a typical semester, we attempt to do a combination of events designed for CSU members and the wider campus community,” Lucy wrote. “It’s been much more difficult to work towards outreach and engagement … so we’ve been dedicating most of our efforts to events designed for CSU members.”
CSU looks forward to hosting more events like the All Souls Day prayer service this winter. The group might also host a Thanksgiving service and an Advent service, normally one of the largest CSU events. In the following spring semester, the group anticipates hosting smaller, in-person programming for students on campus.
“If there’s one takeaway from all of our events … I would say it’s the importance of grounding us all in something bigger than ourselves as individuals,” Lucy wrote.
Kovarovics’ advice for students is to reach out to Eduardo Pazos, director of religious and spiritual life and on-campus advisor for CSU, as well as the rest of the faith community.
“He’s an amazing resource, and knowing who he is and how to get in touch with him is huge for people of faith across campus and everyone in general,” Kovarovics said.
Kovarovics hopes that CSU can encourage students to find strength in faith to persist through these troubling times.
“We’d love for the Bowdoin community to … remember that there is so much strength in fellowship and in the people that surround you,” he said. “Remember that and lean into that.”