Local News Archive
Print Issue: December 4, 1986
'Peer Minister' Joins Staff At Athens Catholic Center
by Gretchen Keiser
University of Georgia junior Aron Homberg, 20, is now also working as a young Catholic reaching out to other Catholic students on the Athens campus.
Homberg is the first to take on a new part-time position created this year at the Universitys Catholic Center, working as a peer minister or student working with other students. Franciscan Father Bob Menard who is pastor of the Catholic Center said the idea of a peer ministry came from observing the success of this approach with young students at St. Pius and Marist high schools in Atlanta.
Support for the 15-hour-a-week position comes from parents of Catholic students at the university where an estimated 20 percent of the population, or 3,000 to 4,000 students are Catholic, Father Menard said.
A member of a big family living on the Georgia-Tennessee line in Ringgold, Ga., Homberg went to Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga and says he found the Catholic Center a source of support when he arrived on the Georgia campus as a freshman. I needed that identification with the beliefs I had, Homberg said. On such a large campus, small groups to mingle and socialize with are a way of life, he said, and if the Catholic Center can be a source of such groups of friends, it can really help Catholic students.
Some of the gatherings that the Center has held in the past or initiated this year are Sunday night dinners, which provide graduate or faculty couples a chance to cook family dinner for some of the undergraduates and bring a community spirit to the one evening a week when campus dining halls are closed. The dinner is held between the 5 and 7 p.m. Sunday Masses. Homberg said this years intramural sports teams at the Catholic Center, drawing students to volleyball in the first quarter and basketball in the second, were a chance for students to get together informally and form ties in the Catholic community.
A weekly Bible study, and a group known as the Catholic student fellowship who come together to discuss issues and to socialize, each attract small groups of students, Homberg said. The Center also sponsors quarterly retreats that take students off campus to a park setting for a weekend of rest and reflection with student leaders and a priest.
A social work major, Homberg has coordinated the Catholic student fellowship as a volunteer in past years and served as a retreat leader for two years. Now serving as a resource person to other student coordinators as well as initiating new efforts to reach Catholics. Out of 40 guys on my hall, 10 are Catholic, Homberg said, indicating the growing Catholic population on campus.
The goal of the staff is to reach people through a variety of means, like fellowship, sports and community events, keeping it as simple and basic as possible, Homberg said. He also foresees a lot of growing up on my part, to try to identify all the needs of this widespread and varied community.