A student prays in mid-October on the UWRF campus. Students have been covering an hour of adoration every morning in a makeshift chapel, with many dropping by for a few minutes before heading off to class. Renovations on the Newman Center church are expected to be completed this winter. (Photo by Joe Winter)

Joe Winter
Special to the Catholic Herald

Some parishes have perpetual Eucharistic adoration. But when it comes to college campuses, it’s not many that have it each and every morning. Such has been the case for a few months now at the Newman Center at the UW-River Falls.

A director, who works together with St. Bridget’s Parish, said it is quite remarkable for a college crowd to get this fully and consistently behind having adoration, and it shows a love of God that they are willing to adjust to their temporary new on-campus setting and squeeze into a smaller space to make it happen. This has been needed because of the reconstruction of their neighboring campus church. Although some students may stay only about five minutes then rush off to class, at least they made the effort to show up, said Mallory Schneider, the director of campus ministry at FalconCatholic, taking its name in part from the university mascot.

Adoration is held every morning from 8:30-9:30 a.m. – early for some night-owl students who might have been cramming for exams – and on certain weeknights a few times each month.

Students typically take up all six spaces of the seating in their ad hoc chapel, and several more often plant themselves on the carpet if there is not enough room. The newer worship space has been set up in the Newman Center itself, comprised of a house next door to the campus church on the south end of the school property, as a spare office room there was converted to meet this temporary need.

The work on the existing chapel and worship area – there were some roofing issues, too – started soon after the fall semester opened. “We hope to have it done before the snow flies,” Schneider said. There even was buzz about having this take the form of perpetual adoration, virtually every minute, going back to last spring, but this being on a college campus, that level of involvement proved to be too much.

Adoration will be moved back to the main church once work there is completed later this winter.

Already at 8:15 a.m. on a recent Friday, there was a big and glowing “open” sign on the Newman Center window. Five minutes later, the first student pulled up alongside that window, riding his bicycle.

Inside it was noteworthy that there were two Sacred Heart images, each with its very different look, flanking the crucifix and the Host. Around 9 a.m., more students traipsed in, to take their place in one of the six chairs, as things really got rolling – or if even to just hang out at the table outside.

One young man said he wanted to take the time to do actual adoration more, but in the last more than year, he has been too busy with studies. He had a lot to say about the draw of this particular form of worship.

A summary: This becomes an intimate talk with Jesus, without worldly distractions, and is a time to be at peace with him in a (rare, these days) period of quieting of the soul. This can be a guide for us all to be more like him. He did not associate so much with the rich and powerful, he noted, but often even criminals.

He agreed that even the disciples were flawed people and not the typical cream of the crop, by society’s standards. But that is not what Jesus was after.

Since the chapel in the campus church has been closed, a sign on the door announced that since mid-September, their main services had been moved to St. Bridget’s, a few miles north across town.