Religious Diversity: Promoting unity, embracing differences.

A Religiously Diverse Community

Campus Ministry promotes St. Edward’s University’s mission through their work in supporting religious diversity through bringing together students, faculty and staff of differing religious and non-religious identities.

As a resource for all students attending St. Edward’s University, Campus Ministry aspires to foster an awareness and desire on the part of the campus community to advance peace and justice in the world. We do this by encouraging our community members to reflect, not only on their own faith and what it means to them, but also on the faith of others in a local and global context. This reflection involves recognizing and embracing shared core values, while also learning about, accepting and respecting the unique differences between individuals and their respective religious traditions and cultural worldviews.

Through various programs, events, student groups and religious/non-religious observances, students are encourage to break down of racial, religious, cultural and gender-based barriers by recognizing one’s own worldview in relation to the complexities of other’s worldviews. Campus Ministry seeks to cultivate a sustainable campus ecology through the encouragement of interfaith, ecumenical and inter-cultural cooperation within the campus community with particular focus upon students. St. Edward’s University is a global community, and therefore, an emphasis is placed upon seeking to cultivate an appreciative understanding of pluralism and religious literacy by fostering interfaith dialogue, expression, reflection and participation in community and global service.

Why Such an Emphasis Upon Religious Diversity at a Catholic Institution?

The Roman Catholic Church, recognizing its presence and relationship within a global community, authored several guiding documents during the Vatican II Ecumenical Conference (1963-1965), including Guadiam Es Spec (The Church in the Modern World), Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Freedom), Unitatis Redintegratio (Decree on Ecumenism) and Nostra Aetate (On the Relation to Non-Christian Religions). These documents, and many more from the Catholic Bishops, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict, and Pope Francis, call for Catholic institutions to embrace opportunities for dialogue, exchange of learning and mutual understanding in support of protecting the inherent human dignity of each person. St. Edward's University and the Congregation of Holy Cross, our founding religious order, seek to continue the dialogue created by these historic documents.

In an age of rapid social and technological change, finding common ground through unity is a necessity for future leaders who will need to make ethical and moral decisions. Campus Ministry serves as the nexus at St. Edward's where students can share knowledge of their own faith in fellowship with others, ask questions and discover true knowledge of the world.

Places for Personal Prayer and Reflection

On-Campus Religious Services

  • Catholic Mass (Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel - weekdays at noon, Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and 9 p.m.)
  • Muslim Jumu’ah Prayers (Maloney Room, Main Building, 3rd floor)
  • The Well, an All Christian Worship Service (Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel–check university calendar for monthly dates and times)

Austin Area Faith Communities

Campus Ministry encourages students from diverse religious backgrounds to seek out local communities from their tradition. Campus Ministry has partnered with and maintains strong connections with various faith communities in the Austin area representing a diverse background, including Mainline Protestant, evangelical Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu to help students get connected in Austin. The Campus Ministry staff can assist students in finding a community that meets their needs.

You can find a community by checking out the Places of Worship directory.

In addition to local faith communities, several local organizations partner with Campus Ministry at various times to support students:

  • Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT) – iACT unites faith and cultural communities to foster respect, partnership and transformation in service of the common good. iACT sponsors numerous dialogue events throughout the year and coordinates various interfaith service projects throughout the Austin area. Contact iACT at http://interfaithtexas.org/.
  • University Interfaith Council – The University Interfaith Council is an organization of campus religious leaders that provides mutual support to discuss issues and values relevant to ministries at the University of Texas at Austin and facilitate common programs with other ministries and UT Organizations and offices. Contact the UIC at www.uicut.org.
  • Texas Hillel – The Texas Hillel creates opportunities for all Jewish students in the Austin area to develop their own Jewish interests and participate in a welcoming campus-based community that respects the value of pluralism and promotes ongoing involvement in Jewish life. Contact Texas Hillel at www.texashillel.org.
  • Seton Cove – The Seton Cove, an interfaith spirituality center, was created in 1995 to be a place of hospitality and solace for people seeking to integrate spirituality more fully into their daily lives. Seton Cove is recognized as a leader in Austin for spiritual formation, creative learning and holistic renewal. Contact Seton Cove at www.setoncove.net.
  • Eremos – Eremos provides opportunities for spiritual growth through prayer retreats, educational workshops and spiritual direction. Contact Eremos at www.eremos.org.

Students are welcome to contact any of these organizations directly, if they choose.

If you would like more information on Austin faith-based organizations, please contact jamesjp [at] stedwards.edu (subject: Austin%20Area%20Faith%20Communities) (James Puglisi, DMin).

Student Groups and Religious Diversity

Several student groups exist, each expressing a specific faith tradition and purpose. Each groups seeks to foster a welcoming environment for all students to share a common experience or to learn more about an area of interest. The Holy Cross tradition of St. Edward's welcome and advocates the variety of religious expression within its community.

Current student groups:

  • Muslim Student Association (MSA) – St. Edward's MSA is a student run organization formed in order to represent the Islamic faith and the Muslim student community on campus.
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) –  FCA is a high-energy group open to all students providing an opportunity to learn about the Christian faith. FCA’s mission is to help students develop/strengthen their relationship with Jesus Christ through bible study, worship, and playing sports together!
  • Hillel Toppers – Hillel Toppers is a student organization that fosters Jewish education to the St. Edward's Community and builds unity through cultural events and programming.
  • CORE (Catholic Organization for Religious Education) – CORE is a Catholic-based prayer and fellowship group.
  • Hilltopper Christian Fellowship (HCF) – The Purpose of HCF is to establish witnessing communities of students and faculty who follow Jesus as Savior and Lord: growing in love for God, God's Word, God's people of every ethnicity and culture and God's purposes in the world.

Campus Ministry encourages student led groups and will, along with Student Life, work with any student wishing to form a group around a particular faith tradition. If you have an idea for a new group or would like more information on any existing groups, please contact jamesjp [at] stedwards.edu (subject: Student%20Groups%20and%20Religious%20Diversity) (James Puglisi, DMin).

Religious Diversity Leadership

St. Edward's University enjoys a religiously diverse community.  In Campus Ministry, we have a unique opportunity to assist students in their global preparedness, personal growth, and leadership development by recognizing the spiritual, religious and cultural dynamics of each individual.

Whereas the Brothers, Sisters and Priests of the Congregation of Holy Cross have historically crossed borders into places around the globe in the work of fostering a just world, St. Edward’s students represent over 50 Christian denominations and religious traditions on campus each semester.  These students bring their experiences of the world, locally and globally, directly to us here on the Hilltop and will be leaders in their faith communities and in a religiously diverse global community.

Campus Ministry has several leadership opportunities for students who have an interest in fostering their talents, awareness and vision in the area of religious diversity.

Current positions include:

  • “The Well”, an all-Christian Sunday Worship – Team Leaders

Team leaders for The Well assist in the planning, liturgy and logistics of this weekly ecumenical monthly worship service for Christians of all denominations and backgrounds in a taize format. The service offers another space and place for members of the campus community to gather for worship and seeks to contribute to the spiritual diversity of St. Edward’s.

  • Christian Unity Week (CUW) – Team Leaders

CUW occurs January 18-22 each year and is dedicated to building bridges between the various Christian denominations and traditions around the common unity in Christ Jesus.  The weeks consists of various activities and events that seek to educate Christians and others about the Christian tradition in order to foster greater understanding and cooperation while respecting the unique differences from across the traditions. Team leaders must value the contributions of the various branches of Christianity, while also desiring unity within the Christian tradition.

  • Interfaith Leadership Council (ILC) – Council Members

Council members work to assess the campus environment in order to identify needs in service of our religiously diverse community. The Council works closely with the Peer Minister for Interfaith/Ecumenical.

The Peer Minister will assist Campus Minister with planning of special interreligious and ecumenical programs.

Additional leadership opportunities area available with the various student groups: (FCA, MSA, Hillel Toppers, CORE, & COTB)

Campus Events

Opening windows to our community and to other communities.

A wide range of special events, sponsored by Campus Ministry and various students organizations, are offered throughout the academic year as a way for students to connect with their own faith tradition, learn about other religious traditions and enjoy diverse fellowship. These are just some of the opportunities available for students. Check the University calendar for up-dated event details.  

  • September: The Red Bench (Interfaith), Yom Kippur (Jewish), Eid al-Adha (Muslim), Eid Kippur (Jewish/Muslim), Sukkot (Jewish), The Well (Christian)
  • October: Sukkot (Jewish) (cont.), Blessing of the Animals (Interfaith), St. Francis Feast Day (Interfaith), The Red Bench (Interfaith), Nostra Aetate Lecture (Interfaith), The Well (Christian)
  • November: Prayer of Remembrance (Interfaith), Diwali Festival (Hindu, Sikh, and Jains), The Red Bench (Interfaith), iACT Thanksgiving Service (Interfaith), The Well (Christian)
  • December: Chanukah (Jewish),
  • January: The Well (Christian)  
  • February: The Well (Christian),Ecumenical Ash Wednesday Service (Christian), The Red Bench (Interfaith)
  • March: The Well (Christian), Christian Unity Week (Christian), Lenten Fish Fry (Christian), Maha Shivaratri (Hindu), Holi (Hindu)
  • April: Passover (Jewish), Passover Seder Meal (Jewish), The Well (Christian)

You can find specific dates for these events online.

If you would like more information on any of these events, please contact jamesjp [at] stedwards.edu (subject: Campus%20Events%20-%20Interfaith%20%26%20Ecumenical) (James Puglisi, DMin).

Spiritual Support

St. Edward's promotes a safe and trusting environment where students can engage in an exploration of personal, spiritual, ethical and moral issues experienced personally by students and within their community. Blessed Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, believed that the heart needs a learning experience that is personal, even intimate. Each student is encouraged to form both character and conscience.

Campus Ministry offers spiritual guidance, pastoral counseling or just an opportunity to talk things out regardless of any religious affiliation to all St. Edward's University students. A professional staff is available to assist students, regardless of their faith tradition or background, to explore personal questions of faith, identity, spirituality, diversity and social justice in a safe environment. In addition, Campus Ministry can assist students in identifying resources in the local Austin religious community that is in line with a student’s own religious tradition.

If you have questions and want the support of a Campus Ministry professional, please contact jamesjp [at] stedwards.edu (subject: Spirtual%20Support%20-%20Interfaith%20%26%20Ecumenical) (James Puglisi, DMin).