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Spiritual life groups fill void for students of faith

By VERSHAY BURKS / VN FEATURES EDITOR
On February 21, 2017

A couple years ago, nursing major Josh LaFave brought the idea of starting a spiritual life community (SLC) to Anita Klueg, Detroit Mercy’s director of University Ministry.

“At that time, there really wasn’t a good kind of faith-sharing outlet through campus ministry,” he said.

LaFave had recently gotten more into his faith, and had been wondering whether there was anything more he could do.

Now, he is one of the student leaders of an SLC.

Last year, with the help of Klueg, the organization – it was known as Via Fidelis at the time – began to take off.

“We had a really, really solid group meeting every week,” he said. “People were really passionate about it and wanted it to grow, so at the end of last year we got together and talked about what we were doing for next year.”

Klueg suggested students adopt the Christian Life Community model that operated on 28 other campuses.

They called it a Spiritual Life Community “to make it our own,” LaFave said.

Making their faith their own was a big part of why both LaFave and Mary Payne became involved. Payne is a student leader of another SLC group, for women.

“When you come to college, it’s kind of like, ‘Now my faith is my own, it’s my choice to go to church, it’s my choice to pray,’ ” Payne said. “Kind of taking that initiative on my own was a big step.”

Different SLC groups have developed on campus, giving students the opportunity to strengthen their faith and make friendships in which in-depth discussions about faith are welcome.

In both Payne’s and LaFave’s SLC groups, members talk about their high and low moments throughout the week, and where they’ve seen God in those moments.

Sophomore pre-PA biology major Sarah Purifoy enjoys the time she spends with other SLC members.

She said SLC has helped her grow spiritually.

“Since joining this group my faith has been greatly strengthened and my relationship with God has grown deeper,” Purifoy said. “I couldn’t ask for a better way to go along my journey of faith in college.”

SLC gives its members the opportunity to make an impact on others outside of the university through service in the city and outside of Michigan.

For spring break last year, LaFave participated in a trip to Nazareth Farm in Salem, W.V. Students helped with rural poverty by doing home repairs for those in need.

LaFave recently received the news that he has been accepted for a year-long position as a staff member at Nazareth Farm.

“I don’t think I really would have had the courage to apply to do something like that had I not had these SLCs kind of preparing me,” he said. “This is me taking something that I have appreciated from this university and now taking it out into the world to go do great things.”

As for Payne, this spring she plans to do a service trip, also to Nazareth Farm.

Although there are a number of different SLC groups on campus, University Ministry, located in the student union, arranged service and games nights to members of the various groups to hang out together.

SLC hopes to expand into still more groups, and leaders don’t have to be Christian.

“We have such a small time to make such a large impact on our eternal life,” said LaFave. 

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