SMWC campus ministry makes a difference
November 18th, 2013 | Betsy Elliott
When new campus minister, Andrea Beyke, drove through the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods gates for the first time, she knew she was home. Beyke immediately recognized the feeling of calm surrounding the campus.
“This campus is a very spiritual and serene place to be,” states Beyke. “Just like when choosing a college, there’s a feeling one gets when she knows deep down that this is the place for her; that is the way I felt when I drove through the gates. The gates called me home.”
Beyke chose The Woods because she believes in the mission and values of the College. Many times during her visits before accepting the position, there was a word that kept surfacing, and it attracted her: empower.
“Here at the Woods, the faculty and staff empower the women to be leaders, both in academics and service. In campus ministry, I hope to do the same. I want to empower students to be leaders in the Church and in service, because the best kind of leader is a servant leader,” states Beyke. “The Church needs women to lead. We wouldn’t have a Church if it weren’t for the first women who witnessed Jesus’ Resurrection and proclaimed it to the rest of the apostles. Women were meant to hold a prominent place in the Church and in society. I believe Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College does an incredible job of forming women to be those leaders.”
After only a few short months at The Woods, she is making strides to build a strong campus ministry program that focuses on faith, community and social justice. Beyke strives to continue building the Catholic identity of SMWC. One specific goal of hers for this year is to begin a Sunday night liturgy for students on campus in the student chapel, Sacred Heart Chapel.
“We were founded in the Catholic tradition, so I hope to sustain roots while also reaching out to the diverse population of students,” states Beyke. “I’ve found that the common ground is commitment to pursuing common good. The millennial generation doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty and working to create a society rid of poverty and injustice.”
Beyke started at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on August 5, 2013. She previously taught 5th grade at St. Malachy School in Brownsburg, Ind., for 6 years. She received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and Theology from Marian University (then Marian College) in Indianapolis, Ind., in May 2007. Beyke began teaching right out of undergrad and earned her Masters in Education from Ball State University while teaching.
After four years of teaching, she felt called to pursue her theology degree further so she could work in a college/university setting. In 2011, she began a graduate degree in Theology at Notre Dame during the summers while still teaching. Beyke has completed the classes for this degree and will take her comprehensive exams this summer to graduate. While teaching 5th grade, she spent her free time coaching volleyball, planning and helping with her parish Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA), accompanying the parish youth chorale and running half marathons.
Now, as the campus minister at SMWC, she is in charge of all spiritual and prayer opportunities for students, faculty and staff. Doctrinally, she is the “pastor” of the school. Beyke also coordinates volunteer experiences for the students, faculty and staff. Despite having only been here for a short time, Beyke has already begun to improve and expand the program.
Recently, the Office of Campus Ministries formed a partnership with Catholic Charities, Ryves Youth Hall and Big Brother, Big Sister, which provides opportunities for SMWC students to mentor young girls. Beyke hopes to continue to build a relationship with Catholic Charities. Additionally, Beyke implemented a new alternative fall break trip this year, by arranging a trip to Nashville, Tenn., for students to serve at the Ronald McDonald House, Nashville Catholic Charities and Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. She also offers a weekly Bible Study and is in charge of RCIA, which is a yearlong program that meets weekly for anyone who wishes to become Catholic. She was also recently awarded a 2013-2014 Campus Ministry Grant from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to cover the alternative fall break trip, National Catholic Collegiate Conference student registration and campus chapel renovations.
Beyke describes her goals for the campus ministry program as a balance between tradition and progress, much like the goals of the College as a whole.
“The tradition and stories within the walls of the campus buildings give Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College character,” states Beyke. “I love how we draw from the rich history of The Woods but we don’t dwell on it. We use it to propel us forward and continue looking for new and exciting opportunities for our students.”