God’s Quad

Orbis Book Spotlight

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[googlefont font=“Cormorant Infant” fontsize=”20″]Preview by Jill O’Brien[/googlefont]

With contributors from five continents, this book explores the power and potential of small Christian communities for Catholic college students.

God’s Quad, edited by Kevin Ahern and Christopher Derige Malano, looks at how students in these communities can carry their experiences into post-college life, when the pressures of work and the absence of a nurturing campus environment can lead many young people to fall away from their faith tradition.

Ahern and Malano, both longtime leaders in international Catholic youth groups, have curated a collection of case studies and resources that draw from diverse college communities.

In one chapter, Maryknoll Father Joseph Healey seeks to answer the question: “What do Catholic young people really want to talk about?” Father Healey proposes a method for designing “listening sessions by and for young people,” which have the aim of drawing honest responses from youth in small Christian communities about the topics and issues they engage in and struggle with.

He also shares the results of surveys he has initiated both in eastern Africa and in the United States. By providing a model for such open communication, Father Healey is helping to answer an urgent question that has relevance for young Christians as they seek to enrich their faith both on and beyond the quad.

Other global perspectives include a discussion of the history and mission of Catholic student movements in Italy, Peru, India and Mali. But while this book pays tribute to the spirit of mission work overseas, it also emphasizes that mission work can and should be undertaken right here at home.

For instance, we hear the passion in the voice of Christine Cichello, who talks about the resources and challenges of the Christian Life Community Program at Boston College. CLCs, as they are called, are small, faith-sharing communities that are found all over the world, but here Cichello is specifically describing the student-led, intentional CLCs at Boston College.

Though CLCs meet for only an hour each week, they can have a long-lasting impact. Cichello notes that some students who participate in CLCs go on to form new CLCs during the next stage of their lives.

And it is not only students who benefit from CLCs on campus. Professors and staff members at some colleges have joined with other adult professionals in the wider community to come together in prayer and fellowship, leading to lasting bonds.

And indeed, faith and fellowship are two of the main themes in God’s Quad. This dynamic book contains many fascinating stories of small Christian communities on campuses the world over, and it is interesting to see that often students’ fears and questions are similar across cultures and time zones. They want to know how to love, how to live, how to grow—all while balancing course loads and adjusting to life away from home.

Ahern and Malano hope that the narratives and resources they’ve provided will help students in small Christian communities not only while they are on campus, but also as they carry their solidly nourished faith beyond the quad and out into the world.

To find more information on the book, or to purchase, please visit OrbisBooks.com

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About the author

Jill O'Brien

Jill O’Brien is an editor at Orbis Books in Ossining, N.Y. She holds a Ph.D. in theological ethics from Boston College.