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Crystal Sullivan

God and campus, the joy of witness … Ask a Marianist

4:30 PM  Feb 19th, 2014
by Thomas Columbus

Answering questions in this issue is Crystal Sullivan, director of campus ministry and a Marianist Educational Associate. Questions not appearing in the print edition are listed first.

What are your top three favorite movies? —ALYSSA WAGNER ’09, DAYTON
I am not a big movie-goer. But here are three all-time favorite books: To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. I read them over and over.

Your current role has historically been served by ordained male religious; what attributes of women and lay leadership have you brought to the role? —CHRISTINE SCHRAMM, DAYTON
This question is perhaps better answered by others who experience me in this role. But I can say that my transition as the first lay director of campus ministry has been easy in many regards. First, I was mentored well by previous directors into the leadership I assumed. Second, the mutual respect shared between me and the Marianists and others on campus with whom I collaborate is phenomenal. I feel trusted and highly regarded as a partner and leader. This has been a grace for me personally and professionally, especially since it is not always the experience of women leaders in Church.

As a woman and a lay person, I do bring new perspectives. I have always participated in the Church as a lay person — and so my desire to uncover and empower the gifts of lay people in pastoral leadership is strong. And students are on the top of that list. I experience God as a wife and mother, and so my faith experiences are interpreted through these lenses. I have to believe this affects how I mentor and serve others and the voice I bring to administrative decisions. I have had very few female mentors in ministry, and so finding my public voice was a surprise I did not expect, but have enjoyed exploring it.

What do you most cherish about being a mother? —ALYSSA WAGNER ’09, DAYTON
I delight in seeing my children growing and thinking for themselves, taking ownership of ideas, and discovering and exploring things they love. I love being excited about the people they are becoming. I love to see all of this in students too!

If you were to write a book on lay ministry, what would you say in the first and last chapters? —KATIE DILLER ’10, EAST LANSING, MICH.
I’m not sure about chapters, but the most important message I’d share is this: Trust in the Spirit of God. There have been many times when I have asked the Holy Spirit to provide what is needed in a situation I do not feel prepared to handle. God always shows up. This has been the grace of ministry over time — it’s helped me believe that ministry does not happen because of me. It’s really all about God.

 

The following answers appeared in the print edition of the spring 2014 University of Dayton Magazine.

 

What is your greatest sense of joy in working in campus ministry at UD? —AUSTIN SCHAFER ’09, HILLIARD, OHIO
I find great joy in witnessing students develop an enthusiasm for God — like when I learn from the deep desire people have to hear and see God’s work in their lives. Sometimes it happens during an “aha” moment that a student has. Very often it happens in journeying with people through struggle. At these times, I am able to witness the faithfulness of a God who suffers with us — and who offers us hope.

How can we get a better understanding of different faiths on campus? —FATEMA ALBALOOSHI ’15, DAYTON
Relationships. Faith is encountered most authentically when it is explored in relationship with other people. It is just as important to grab a cup of tea with someone of a different faith perspective as it is to inquire about his or her beliefs and practices. Relationships help us understand one another and respect human dignity, which is innate to each of us because we are made in the image of God

How has the person of Mary shaped your life and ministry at UD? —FATHER MARTIN SOLMA, S.M. ’71, ST. LOUIS
My first attraction to the Marianists was their reverence for Mary as the first disciple — the one whose “YES” to following the will of God resulted in Christ being a part of our world. When preparing for the birth of my first child, I prayed about being a mother. I was overcome by the opportunity my husband and I had to raise children who can represent the presence of Christ with how they live. When I later made this connection to Mary’s mission, this experience became even more profound. I pray that my work with students inspires them to bear the presence of Christ. All of our “Yeses” bring opportunity to bear Christ — and build the Kingdom of God.

If you could instill one habit in every graduating senior, what would it be? —KATIE DILLER ’10, EAST LANSING, MICH.
Look for signs of God’s love and grace every day.

Can you share some of the ways that you have seen the document Commitment to Community make a difference at the University? —ED BRINK, S.M., ST. LOUIS
C2C has helped all students deepen their understanding of Marianist community and their personal responsibility to contribute to it. We see reminders of C2C on campus banners and electronic billboards; first-year students take the C2C pledge and discuss it extensively; students in special interest housing support C2C in their house missions; C2C is used in leadership development programs and as a teaching tool for students. If every student leaves UD understanding what it means to support the dignity of all and support the common good, we will have cause to rejoice!

 What is the most important lesson from our Marianist charism that you think all students should have instilled in them before they graduate? —MOLLY WILSON ’08, CLAYTON, OHIO
Being in a community is about being a part of something bigger than ourselves — something that has the power to change the world. Being a part of a community helps us see ourselves in new ways. We see how we can inspire others. We see God in action.

Pope Francis has had a tremendous and powerful impact on the world discussion of organized religion. What do you see as Marianists’ contribution to that dialogue? —CHRISTINE SCHRAMM, DAYTON
Pope Francis is a Jesuit. But couldn’t he be Marianist? He welcomes all to the table, gets to the basics of what it means to love one another and live as Jesus modeled, and challenges the status quo for the sake of the gospel. These things resonate with Marianist values — discipleship of equals, inclusivity and hospitality, being formed by Mary to be true disciples of Jesus, transforming the world through justice, being a community in mission. We need to keep being authentically who we are and travel along with him on the journey.

For our next issue, ask your questions of Father Patrick Tonry, S.M. ’55, spiritual director of the Marianist Mission, whose career also includes two decades in provincial administration as well as teaching and pastoral work. EMAIL YOUR QUESTION TO MAGAZINE@UDAYTON.EDU.

Crystal Sullivan

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