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APU Editor's Pick Original

World Religion Day: Student Organization Contributions

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By Janet Athanasiou
Student and Alumni Affairs Liaison

January 17 is World Religion Day. This event was started in 1950 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’í.

In support of World Religion Day, the Office of Student and Alumni Affairs wanted to highlight the recent accomplishments of our religious and spiritual student organizations.

Start a B.A. in religion at American Public University.

JSA Starts a Holiday Newsletter

One accomplishment was a holiday newsletter, led by the Jewish Student Association (JSA). JSA’s President, APU student Hannah Via, says, “The holiday newsletter was designed to raise awareness of the various holidays and to help make the various clubs at the university more culturally aware and inclusive. The JSA plans on making this an annual event, as we believe that education on cultural differences is important for creating a healthy and thriving atmosphere for students in various clubs.”

The Newman Center Provides Support for Members during the Pandemic

The Newman Center is a Catholic campus ministry for university students, alumni, faculty and staff. The Newman Center, always an active student organization, has made special efforts to engage members during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Newman Center president and APU alumna Anne Midgley states, “Faced with the COVID-19 shutdown, the Newman Center acted in a variety of ways to serve its members during this challenging period. We welcomed two new associate members — Fr. Rodney Thibault and Fr. Jack Schrader of member Lynn McAfee’s parish, Transfiguration of the Lord, in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.

“Lynn began leading daily Facebook watch parties to share Transfiguration’s daily and Sunday Masses, Stations of the Cross, and the Rosary. The watch parties have continued throughout 2020.

“With the cancellation of Commencement weekend, we repurposed budget dollars to provide each member with a copy of our prayer book, ‘A Companion for the Journey: Prayers and Devotions as well as a St. Benedict Rosary.’ We have established this gift set as a new member welcome package and have distributed it on a quarterly basis to new members. In this manner, we have provided spiritual support to members who have been unable to attend church liturgies due to COVID-19 government restrictions or personal risk factors.”

Other Faith-Based Student Organizations

In addition to the Jewish Student Association and the Newman Center, other religious and spiritual organizations at the university include the Buddhism & Hinduism Club, the Paganism Club, and Ratio Christi. All of these student organizations provide a space to fulfill the spiritual needs of university students and alumni.

The Office of Student and Alumni Affairs welcomes individuals of all faiths to participate in student organizations and would be happy to work with students who feel their faith or spiritual beliefs are not reflected; we are here and excited to help you create a community on campus! Along with student organizations, the university also offers non-denominational chaplain services for students. The chaplain can be contacted at chaplain@apus.edu.

Janet Athanasiou has worked for the university since 2011, holding positions such as Academic Advisor, Senior Manager of Advising Schools, and Graduate Academic Advisor. Previously, she worked as a Residence Coordinator for the University of Alberta in Canada. Her academic credentials include a bachelor’s degree in history from Dalhousie University and a master of education degree in counseling psychology from James Madison University. Janet is currently working on her doctoral degree in higher education and higher education administration at George Mason University.

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