What do Sororities, Fraternities, and the Pope have in common?
Ah yes, it’s that time of the year again! Potential new members walk campus like cattle, being herded from one house to the next, praying it doesn’t rain on their hairstyle that took an hour fighting with a curling iron to pull off. Fraternity men sit on their front lawns watching, hoping girls that pass them by will think they are cool and want to hang out with them someday. Sorority members are exhausted from waking up at the crack of dawn to practice their songs, skits, and conversation skills for more than a week straight. Fuses are blown as a hundred women all turn on their hairdryers at once to get ready for the first rush event of the day. Coffee is guzzled more quickly than Usain Bolt running 100 meters. Everyone is stressed out about ranking numerically their top choices for houses and new members. It’s officially recruitment season!
Having never been in a men’s fraternity, it’s hard to say exactly what recruitment is like. From what I have heard, fraternity recruitment consists of the following - dudes talking, barbequing, playing some sort of yard game, having fun in a laid back manner, and chilling with a group of guys. Eventually if fraternities like a guy they simply ask him to join and if he wants to, he does. Sounds a lot less stressful or complicated. Though it may be very different, it’s still recruitment!
Though styles vary, at the end of the day, members of fraternities and sororities want to recruit a strong new member class. Tons of effort goes into the entire process. Recruitment chairs putting in effort over the summer, “Polish Week” practicing endlessly until perfection is reached, hosting actual recruitment events, new member training first semester, and finally initiation. Thousands of hours go into investing in the future of a fraternity or sorority. This effort really stood out to me in college. I really loved being part of recruitment…but my sorority was only something temporal. My biggest identity is not Amanda, an Alpha Phi but rather Amanda, a Daughter of God. I became convicted that if clubs and groups that end upon death put all this effort into recruitment, why don’t I do the same for souls?
Some of Jesus’ last words to the Apostles in Matthew 28:11-12 say, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Left and right in the scriptures I see Jesus doing recruitment asking men to “come, follow me” and then traveling for three years hanging out and doing ministry. In the beginning of the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit is given to the Apostles and they begin boldly proclaiming the name of Jesus. It says in Acts 2:41 that three thousand people accepted the message of Jesus proclaimed by St. Peter. They repented and were baptized that day. Talk about an effective recruiter!
Pope Benedict XVI wrote, "We cannot keep to ourselves the words of eternal life given to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ: they are meant for everyone. It is our responsibility to pass on what, by God's grace, we ourselves have received." Catholics are called to share boldly the gospel message, just as Christ commanded the Apostles. They acted on His words, and the Church began to grow like wildfire. I can recruit people into things I am passionate about - my sorority, health & fitness, but can I recruit them as a disciple? I struggle at times to talk courageously about Jesus and His redemption in my life…and He’s supposed to be the one I am most passionate about! Inviting someone into a growing relationship with Jesus is the most important task I can do this side of Heaven…and the only recruitment I can do that will make an eternal impact on someone’s life. St. Jose Maria Escriva says, “Apostolic zeal is a divine madness I want you to have, and its symptoms: hunger to know the Master; constant concern for souls; perseverance that nothing can shake.”
I am not saying we should host formal Christian recruitment events like sororities host rush events…as interesting as that would be to watch! It sounds a little funny to say that Christians ought to have a recruitment mindset…a bit too corporate or something. Jesus and the Apostles didn’t think so though. It was the message they spoke with their entire lives. They were even willing to die for the message of salvation. So yea, I guess I am recruiting in the name of Jesus at all times, just like them. I am not ashamed of that fact because ultimately people need Him no matter how much they think they don’t. I don’t have hidden agendas or try to manipulate anyone but I desire everyone to come to know Him and that is no secret of mine or of the Church.
When I was in the sorority and even now as a staff member with FOCUS, it would be foolish to think that recruitment is only isolated to the confined dates for such events. I am always recruiting, as I am a member of these organizations and the way in which I live my life will influence others’ perceptions of the group. As a Christian, I have to pray to get over my fears of sharing the gospel in moments when the Holy Spirit provides an opportunity. I am always in recruitment mode…in how I shop, dress, talk, play sports, eat, drink, read, relax, etc. I am influencing others’ perception of Jesus and the Church. As I watch others in secular organizations always putting their best foot forward to represent their job, school, or club, I am inspired to respond to God’s grace and grow in virtue so my life will draw others to seek the joy I have found in Christ.
Recruitment as a Christian is simply evangelization, the task the baptized are called to. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to carry it out.
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What do Sororities, Fraternities, and the Pope have in common?
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Since the pontificates of Pope Paul VI and John Paul II, the Roman Catholic Church has been commissioned to engage and embrace the world with God's message of love once more with ‘new methods, new ardor and new expression.’ It has come to be phrased, 'the new evangelization.'
For FOCUS, this means meeting college students across the nation where they are and challenging them to examine the meaning and purpose of their lives. Through personal relationships and friendship, we offer college students the true peace and fulfillment they seek in the good news of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catholic faith, inviting them to answer His calling in their lives.
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