Community of St. John seeks to connect with students

The Community of St. John are campus ministers employed by the University that are made up of four members: Sister Gabriela, Sister Immaculata, Brother John and Father Philip-Joseph.

The male community are the Brothers of St. John and the female community are the Apostolic Sisters of St. John. The sisters have been part of Seton Hall for seven years and originated in France in 1984. The Brothers community have been at Seton Hall for 14 years and originated in France in 1965.

“Each one of us in our own way have experienced the loving gaze of Christ upon us, which is why we decided to give up many good things to be with Him,” Gabriela said. “He is our unique treasure and real happiness.”

Gabriela said she made her vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in 2003. Her goal is to make Seton Hall a family where each member is loved.

Immaculata said that the Community is on campus “to listen, to encourage and to walk with the students on their personal and spiritual journey so that each of them knows that they matter and that they don’t have to journey alone.”

She joined the community in 2010 in New Jersey. A year later, she moved to France, lived there for seven years and made her vows there in 2018. She later moved back to New Jersey and joined Campus Ministry in August of that same year.

John is the newest member of the community and said that being at Seton Hall in August is the closest he has ever been stationed since joining the Brothers nine and a half years ago.

“Seton Hall has held many unexpected surprises for me, all of them good,” John said. “After adjusting last semester, a deep joy to be here serving Seton Hall has been growing in my heart, a joy which grows with each person I encounter.”

Gabriela said that she, along with the other brothers and sister, love spending time with students at different events which take place on Thursday nights through Campus Ministry. Some of the events include salsa night, casino night and prayer time.

Photo courtesy of Sister Immaculata
Brother John, Sister Gabriela, Sister Immaculata and Father Philip-Joseph comprise the Community of St. John.

The sisters also hike with students once a month and interact with them before and after Sunday morning masses. The sisters also try to participate in more general events like discussion groups and Campus Ministry retreats. Immaculata added that the community participates in cultural events. For example, Gabriela said she attends events celebrating LatinX culture.

“In these different ways, we make ourselves present to you in the midst of your everyday life, to walk together with you, to make sure your questions do not go unheard and to help those who desire to do so go deeper,” John said.

Nathaniel Valyo, a junior economics and IT management major, is involved in Campus Ministry and has met some of his closest friends through this program.

“The students involved in Campus Ministry are the most genuine students I’ve met on campus,” Valyo said. “The level of openness, generosity and kindness is unparalleled, in my opinion.”

The Campus Ministry members are known for taking time to eat with students in the commuter cafeteria.

“Meals are a really important time to strengthen the bond with friends and to catch up with them,” Gabriela said. “But it is also a way to reach out to students we’ve never met before and wouldn’t normally be able to.

“It has become a great occasion for quality discussions about so many different things,” Gabriela said. “It happens that students who know that we are close to God will ask deep questions like the meaning of life, family, truth, happiness and other things that they cannot talk about with everyone, but feel comfortable with us.”

Valyo emphasized the impact Campus Ministry has had on him.

“The people who are now my closest friends invited me into the community, and I’ve grown closer and closer with them ever since,” Valyo said. “More importantly, the events they host have helped me grow in my relationship with God, and I’m very grateful for the time and effort they put into making students feel at home.”

Victoria Rossi can be reached at victoria.rossi@student.shu.edu.

Author: Victoria Rossi

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