Peer ministers cast a wide net to welcome all to faith community


Courtesy/ Kathryn Williams

The peer ministry team smiles after their commissioning ceremony earlier this year

Maya Pontes, Crier Staff

For the students of Campus Ministry, their work goes beyond what is posted on fliers and advertised in emails. Their commitment to fostering a welcoming environment is evident when stepping inside their Jean Student Center office. On any given day, students can be found in the office playing music, doing homework, working on new programs, or chatting with friends and campus ministers.

This very atmosphere is what the group strives for according to its dedicated peer ministers, who help bring this feeling beyond the walls of their office and into the Saint Anselm College community. 

This year, nine students are working as peer ministers for the Office of Campus Ministry. Peer ministers are student leaders who work together to promote faith and community on campus through efforts such as programs, community nights, and weekly Renew groups.

Each student has a specific ministry focus to guide their work. Jillian Barrett ‘24 focuses on facilitating personal development. Meredith Gebski ‘23 and Julia Smith ‘25 work on educating for justice, including weekly food pantry and donation ministries. Kathryn Williams ‘24 and Brendan Fedrizzi ‘24 run faith in practice, which emphasizes the why and how behind living a faithful life. Camille Desjardins ‘23 and Kelly Geraghty ‘25 work with Thomas Canuel ‘24 and Clay Young ‘23 to minister to first year students, including freshman and transfer students. Camille Desjardins and Meredith Gebski have the additional responsibility of senior peer ministers, as this is their third year with the team, and serve as mentors for the group.

When asked to describe the office’s climate, Thomas Canuel, who has been a member of Campus Ministry since freshman year, responded, “I would say it’s both peaceful and empowering.” Canuel went on to explain that for as much tranquility that is present, there is an equal amount of energy.

 He stated, “When it’s busy, especially, and you’re seeing so many people, it really can get you to feel inspired about where you are in your faith.” 

Canuel is involved in First-Year Outreach for freshman men. He and his co-leader, Clay Young, are looking forward to working with first year men who are interested in meeting other students and growing in their faith. Clay runs a Renew group specifically for first year men every Monday at 7pm in the basement of Dominic Hall. 

Canuel’s big project this year has been spearheading a new podcast called “Elevate” that will debut this month. With the podcast, “we are hoping to elevate our campus community and engage with students,” Canuel said.

Julia Smith also started out during her freshman year, finding interest in a First-Year Women’s Renew Group, a place where she felt a sense of belonging. With the meetings being in a small group setting, she shared, “We got really close with the peer ministers, Camille and Audrey.” Smith believes that this comfortability allowed them to “break down some of those barriers and be able to talk about faith.” It was ultimately the kindness that she witnessed from the Peer Ministers that made her want to be one herself. “That experience was so good for me, so I want to create that experience for other people too.” 

While junior Jillian Barrett has been involved with Campus Ministry since her freshman year, this is her first year as a peer minister. Her work as a peer minister is “focused on personal faith development.” She said, “I believe that it’s important we equip our community to have a personal relationship with Jesus. God is so relational and walking through life with him is transformative.”

Barrett shared a favorite memory from her time running Delight Ministries. Barrett “reached out during my freshman year to start a Delight Chapter on our campus. Delight Ministries is a national organization dedicated to creating space for Christ-centered community for women on college campuses.” She described a recent Delight meeting in which “we were locked out of the lower church conference room where we usually meet. As 20 of us walked down Alumni quad to find another space, I realized that there were just so many of us. Delight started with one girl on Zoom and God had just blown us away with its growth.”

Smith is focused on Educating for Justice, an initiative that includes work she is passionate about: food recovery. This year, she, along with fellow students, will be going to Davison Dining Hall to bring leftover food to New Life Ministries, a Manchester-based rehabilitation center for women seeking mental health treatment and recovery from addiction. Every Monday senior peer minister Meredith Gebski leads students to help work in the food pantry at the local Saint Raphael Parish in Manchester. 

When asked about her goals for her work in Campus Min, Barrett said, “I hope that my work will spread love…College can be hard with so many challenges and barriers as we grapple with who we are. I believe the grace of Jesus has the power to break down barriers and encourage our hearts.” She sees her work in Campus Ministry as being offered “so many resources to continue to grow this supportive space on campus.”

Both Canuel and Smith encourage students from all walks of life to stop by Campus Ministry, whether it be in the office or at one of the many weekly programs. Conversations in these spaces are where Smith observes the greatest moments. She said, “Campus Ministry is about getting closer to God, but in order to get closer to God you have to get closer to each other.”