By Elise Schoening
Father Erin Brown, who has served as the Catholic priest at the Spiritual Center for three years, has now been permanently reassigned to another parish, according to an email sent out to members of the Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM). His recent departure has resulted in a great reduction of the Catholic Masses available to students on campus, and until further notice, CCM is only offering Mass on Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m. Starting Saturday, March 28, Saturday night Masses will be available at 6:30 p.m.
During his time at the College, Brown developed close relationships with numerous students. He will be remembered not only for serving as a friend and confidant to these students, but also for giving personalized and engaging sermons at Mass, according to junior early childhood education and psychology double major Katherine King, CCM’s co-vice president of retreats.
“He always relates the Gospel back to things that are going on in our lives as young adults, but mostly as college students who are going through a difficult transition point in our lives,” King said.
According to junior early childhood education and psychology double major Amy Pilsbury, CCM’s secretary, Father Brown thoroughly enjoyed working at the College and did not leave by choice.
At the end of the fall semester, Brown was temporarily reassigned by his bishop to St. Jerome’s Parish in Long Branch, N.J., according to King. This reassignment, however, was recently made permanent. John Butler has now taken on the position of primary pastor for the Catholic Campus Ministry at the College.
CCM, which is primarily a student-run organization, is working hard to continue operating as usual in spite of this recent change.
Sophomore civil engineering major Lauren Santullo says that the organization will continue to provide students with Catholic Mass and other religious events throughout the semester, although they are now being offered less frequently.
“I personally will miss Father Brown at our weekly activities, but if he needs to help out somewhere else in the diocese, that’s where he needs to be,” Santullo said. “I also hope that he comes back to visit for some of our events.”
This loss has not only been hard on the students who have grown close to Brown, but it has also restricted CCM’s ability to provide programs and services. The organization now has limited access to the Bede House, an off-campus house where the group’s events are typically held.
The new pastor, Butler, has a number of responsibilities outside of the College and cannot be as involved in the campus community as Brown was, Pilsbury said. Therefore, the number of Catholic Masses offered at the Spiritual Center has been significantly reduced. In the past, Masses have been held on both weekdays and weekends. CCM is now only able to offer Mass twice a week on Sunday evenings, and starting this weekend, Saturday evenings.
“The weekday Masses didn’t always have a large turnout, but it is still a loss to those who wanted that daily time to pray and reflect in the Spiritual Center,” Pilsbury said.
Weekday Masses were particularly important because they allowed students with busy schedules more flexibility for worship. Students who wish to attend Catholic Mass on a daily basis must now travel off campus to other parishes in the neighboring area.
Brown’s departure is certainly a loss felt by the college community and all who attended his sermons. Still, CCM has welcomed Butler and appreciates the new perspective he has to offer, Santullo said.
Father Butler is actively working to fill the hole left in Brown’s absence. He is currently planning a spring retreat for members of CCM and is also working hard to offer confession, as well as even more Mass times, Pilsbury said.