Christians are in the season of Lent — a holy time dedicated to rebirth and return to religion. Churches around Ball State are open to all, but focus on drawing in younger people and inviting them to return to their faith, especially during Lent. A study by the Pew Research Center suggests millennials are less religious than past generations, but some students at Ball State believe their faith has grown during college.
Only half of all millennials say they believe in God and only about 27 percent say they attend church services on a weekly basis, according to the Pew Research Center.
The Rev. Sean Pogue, pastor at St. Francis Catholic Church in Muncie, said about 250 students regularly attend Sunday morning services at St. Francis. This is about a third of his congregation. Pogue added that he normally finds college students fall away from their faith because of the stresses of a new environment.
“Many students will find that they get overwhelmed with everything. When they come to college, they’re leaving home for the first time, coming to a new environment, being met with new challenges such as school work, and even different ideas,” Pogue said.
Andres Nieto, a junior at Ball State, said college did impact his faith at first, but after finding a church family, his faith grew.
“The community here is just incredible and it really allowed me to grow in ways I didn’t think possible,” Nieto said.
Erica Faunce, a sophomore at Ball State, believes college is a “whole other ball game,” but said being in control of her faith has been a wonderful experience.
“I’m in complete control, so I have to be careful, but I hope to keep growing,” Faunce said.
Faunce added that having a church five minutes from her dorm has made it easier for her to expand her faith.
Thomas Myers, who is also a sophomore at Ball State, agreed being in control of how he practices his faith helped him grow.
“In grade school and high school I just sort of went through the motions of going to mass and confession, and praying once in a while, Myers said. "But when I came to college and joined St. Francis, I realized I needed to do more to expand my faith and to be a good person."
Pogue said he believes people will continuously come back to church because of the relationships they build. He tries to hold different activities throughout the week that keep the college students coming back, such as weekly dinners and retreats.
One of the main goals for Pogue is to make sure students know the door is always open and they can treat St. Francis like a second home.