The mission of Catholic Campus Ministry at the university is funded through the Bishop’s Appeal. According to Wood, who is working on the budget for the upcoming year, the Bishop’s Appeal makes up over 90 percent of the CCM budget. Everything done in campus ministry there is funded by it.
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Wood worked as pastoral associate at St. Paul’s Newman Center on the campus of the University of Wyoming-Laramie. There, his job included spiritual direction, education and simply meeting with students who stopped by the office in need of something. Upon earning his master’s degree in theology from St. Paul Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., Wood taught two courses on the university level at UW-Laramie.
These courses consisted of “The Life and Teaching of Jesus” and “Intro to New Testament.” In addition to his work as campus minister, Wood is teaching “Intro to New Testament” this semester as an online course.
What brought Wood to Wisconsin – and particularly to campus ministry at UWGB – was a combination of several things. His wife, Jennifer, was originally from the Upper Peninsula, and was looking for a profession that could allow herself and her family to be closer to family in the region.
Recently, she was offered the role as the director of religious education at St. Rose Parish in Clintonville. She took the job, and she, Lincoln, and their four children moved to Wisconsin. After working nine years at the Laramie Newman Center, Wood was looking for a change of pace. He also thought it would be good to get some “new blood” into the program there. The open position in UWGB’s Catholic Campus Ministry interested him.
“The opportunity to do campus ministry was really a factor,” said Wood. “It is such an important part of who we are as church.”
While the cross-over into the prolonged Wisconsin winter left something to be desired, the bigger transition for Wood is in the ministry. St. Paul’s Newman Center is a parish-based campus ministry, while campus ministry at UWGB is diocesan-based.
“The Diocese in Wyoming gave a grant to the parish,” Wood said, “and they had a strong parish community. Here, building a vibrant student community is much more important.”
To build this “vibrant student community,” Wood has a vision. While housing a vast student population, UWGB is also a commuter school. His hope is to offer an outreach to students who live off-campus. He is looking for ways to engage the whole university, students, staff and faculty, wherever they are.
One area of special importantance for Wood is in growing Small Church Communities. These are men’s and women’s groups where students can connect with other students in intentional conversation about their faith. The group sizes are small, and what is discussed is on a profound and personal level. He sees the growth of these Small Church Communities as instrumental in the growth of Catholic Campus Ministry.
In hopes of living out Pope John Paul II’s call of the “New Evangelization,” he hopes to work with people who have grown up Catholic, perhaps well-versed and educated in Catholicism, but are missing the relationship aspect of Christianity.
“I’d like to reintroduce them to Jesus,” said Wood, “as the living Jesus who loves them, and wants them to be in communion with him and with his church.”
In addition to the small groups and the outreach already being done through CCM, Wood looks to one day hosting a major annual event, such as a nationally or internationally recognized speaker. The event would be open to and attract crowds from the local community.
While the once-a-year big events would be a long-term goal, Wood reiterated that his greatest energy would be put toward the student communities. Through Small Church Communities, the students can process what they take away from events like the ones that UWGB would host.
“Processing that with other Christians is very important,” Wood said. “In some ways the big events are easy. You pay for a speaker to present, and rent a space. You can plan a year in advance. Instead, the day-to-day with students, walking with them, is where the real growth is.”
Ideally, the efforts put forth by Lincoln Wood and CCM team will equip the students of UWGB to be Christians after graduation. Through the Small Church Communities, Wood believes they will develop skills of prayer, and the ability to form groups of community in their parishes. Also, this rich environment of faith would help students to be open to their vocations, perhaps consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.
“We need to move from a mentality of a consumer of faith to that of a disciple of Christ,” said Wood. “The consumer attitude is that if it isn’t working for me, it must not be for me, whereas the disciple’s attitude is working at it to make it happen. This is the big way our church will thrive. The Spirit is really calling us to that.”