Campus Ministry: the home of Fairfield’s retreats, community service programs and brand-new 144 gallon fish tank?

This past summer, the Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Campus Ministry Center on the first floor of Egan Chapel received an extensive remodel.

In addition to the fish tank, upgrades include laminate hardwood floors, overstuffed couches, oil paintings and a 63-inch flat screen HD television with Bose surround sound.
Where last year you would have seen a blank white wall upon walking into the Arrupe building, there is now a large entryway leading into the McGrath Commons, formerly the McGrath Room.

Rev. Michael J. Doody, director of Campus Ministry, orchestrated the building’s transformation.

Doody said when he started at Fairfield two years ago, his first impressions of the building were that it was similar to a doctor’s office: gray, uninviting and inhospitable.

Since that time, he has been working to make the building a place where students can feel free to walk in and make themselves at home.

Doody said that the addition of the fish tank gives people who may be nervous about their first time visiting Campus Ministry an excuse to stop by and relax.

‘I’ve been pushing this for two years,’ said Doody, adding that Mark Reed, vice president for administrative services and student affairs, helped him to get everything that he wanted.

The building’s changes, which began in July, will be complete by the beginning of October.

Because the building is not finished, there has been no advertising as of yet.’

However, according to Doody, once the renovation is finished, there will be an official ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house.

Doody said that the new McGrath Commons, which hosts meetings for both on-campus groups like Eucharistic Ministers and off-campus groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, is meant to be a user-friendly, multi-functional room.

However, not all Fairfield community members agree.
Chris Staysniak ’10, a leader of the Kairos community and a member of the Ignatian Solidarity Corps, said that the building seems less practical and functional now.

‘Though it may look more inviting to some people, I think the new McGrath Commons looks like my Grandma’s house,’ said Staysniak.

‘I’m kind of afraid to touch anything.’

Staysniak said that he does not think the changes will entice more people to become involved in community service.

‘The kind of kid who comes in to do community service is going to do it regardless of there being a fish tank,’ said Staysniak.’ ‘Their priority isn’t having a nice place to sit, it’s going out and doing good works that they believe in.’

According to Staysniak, there is some resentment among those involved in Campus Ministry because of the lack of student participation in the decisions made about remodeling.

Kim Buesking, a senior involved in various aspects of Campus Ministry, said the McGrath Commons and its new decorations and renovations look nice, but she is not sure that it was the best use of the money.

‘I think those who are interested in Campus Ministry or community service don’t really care what it looks like,’ said Buesking.

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