after spring break, welcome patrick

While plenty of us are on Spring Break this week, I’m reposting some thoughts about what to do afterwards… next week, in this case.

Here’s an idea I first got from Orthodox Christian Fellowship, the national college ministry for the Eastern Orthodox branch of Christianity. Their observations are true:

What’s the one time in the year that an Orthodox saint gets major airtime on a college campus?

March 17th!

In just a few days, college towns will be smothered in green and shamrocks will adorn windows and doors across campus. But how many people will know about the amazing life of the bishop they celebrate that day?

Clearly many Evangelicals celebrate this hero of the faith, too – here are some thoughts on doing just that:

st. patrick as a hero

Examining Christian heroes from throughout the centuries holds amazing potential for impacting our students – while also tying in to Millennials’ love of “roots” and “vintage” and the presumed authenticity that goes with it. I would highly encourage you to consider working “heroes of the faith” (both ancient and modern) into your college ministry in some way – and St. Patrick isn’t a bad person to start that list.

He was a missionary to the people who originally enslaved him, don’t you know.

st. patrick’s day as opportunity?

Meanwhile, St. Patrick’s Day at some campus tribes is one of those moments for “unified debauchery.” (See also my post on 4/20 at Colorado from a couple of years ago.)

Penn State is one of those campuses that has traditionally gone a little nuts around this holiday; their annual “State Patty’s Day” was described in a newspaper article here. But I also heard from one college minister that

On a day entirely dedicated to binge drinking and green paraphernalia, over 500 people decided to be “in it, but not of it.” Rolling up their sleeves, stepping out of their comfort zones, and risking for the purpose of being a peaceful presence, these hundreds were part of a different kind of green that day: the green of life, goodness, and shalom.

How we handle those moments will differ… but in any case, it takes a lot of wisdom and grace. Plus, I imagine, a healthy dose of watching for natural opportunities to arise after a whole lot of prayer and personal preparation. (To name a couple of other examples: there’s the “Christian confessional” chapter in Blue Like Jazz, and several campus ministries take an annual opportunity to share Christ on the beach – in the midst of Spring Break craziness.)

st. patrick’s day as unity opportunity

Lastly, this would be one opportunity to venture over to the OCF chapter or Catholic Center on your campus, right? Because your groups might just be able to celebrate the life of St. Patrick together, learn about St. Patrick together, or otherwise come together around this Church History celeb. The same might be true with other Evangelical groups on your campus.

And one more crazy thought – are there any other Irish-related organizations at your campus? Ethnic, language, or other things? I don’t know – but maybe there’s a chance to connect with some people there, too.

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