This semester, faith-based student organizations will continue serving hundreds of religious students on Loyola’s campus.
Although Loyola is a Jesuit Catholic university, students are involved in multiple practicing religious groups, according to the Campus Ministry website.
The Phoenix surveyed some of the organizations serving the religious needs of Loyola students, exploring their missions, some of their activities and their interactions with the greater campus.
Agape & Ecclesia
Agape & Ecclesia is an interdenominational community on campus seeking to help people “love God and love Loyola,” according to Agape Christian Fellowship Co-president Jacob Sierra, a senior majoring in marketing.
Agape and Ecclesia consists of two different student groups, but they’re also the same, Sierra said.
“Although we have different leadership … we’re all moving in the same direction,” Sierra said. “Everyone goes to both.”
Agape meets weekly at 7:30 p.m. in Damen Multipurpose Room (MPR) to study and discuss the Bible, according to its website.
Every Wednesday, 50-100 students gather to engage with the Christian sacred text, enjoying intimate space with familiar faces and just hanging out, Sierra said.
“We’re not too closely associated with a specific denomination,” Sierra said. “[Everyone’s] free to partake in the Bible study.”
Agape’s sister organization, Ecclesia, arranges weekly church services on Sundays at 7:30 p.m., according the organizations’ joint website.
“Our goal is that you’re finding some way to explore your faith,” Sierra said.
Hillel provides the Jewish community on Loyola’s campus a place to explore their identities.
“[Hillel is] a space where people can express their Judaism and … learn about Judaism in an open social environment,” Elisheva Krinsky, president of Hillel and a junior majoring in psychology and religious studies, said.
“For us, Judaism is many different things,” Krinsky said. “We’re … pluralistic.”
Hillel serves close to 100 undergraduate students on campus from various Jewish backgrounds, Krinsky said.
Hillel stays busy throughout the year organizing events to serve its community and Loyola at-large, according to Krinsky. Regular events on campus include a monthly Shabbat dinner, a Hanukkah party, smaller learning-based events and service events, Krinsky said.
Hillel gives Loyola’s Jewish community a home, according to Krinsky.
“They’re my foundation,” Krinsky said. “We’re like a family.”
Hindu Students’ Organization
Loyola’s Hindu Students’ Organization (HSO) does many things to serve Hindu students and the greater campus, Sohum Buch, president and senior majoring in criminal justice and criminology, said.
With around 100 active members and a large alumni network, HSO holds events ranging from its monthly general body meetings to the annual Loyola Garba, which draws close to 1,000 people, according to Buch.
“[The Garba] has been our favorite across our general body,” Buch said.
Other key events include Diwali Dinner, retreats and Hindu Awareness Week, which consists of a week of discussions, performances and interfaith panels to get people acquainted with Hinduism.
HSO maintains the Puja Room, a worship and social space on the second floor of the Damen Student Center, according to the Campus Ministry website. Prayers are held every weekday at 5 p.m.
“Our mission is to celebrate and raise awareness of Hinduism throughout Loyola and our surrounding Chicago community,” Buch said. “It’s focused around doing justice to Hindu holidays, being there to answer questions … and constantly refining how we run the organization.”
Muslim Students’ Association
Building community and serving others is the foundation of Loyola’s Muslim Students’ Association (MSA), according to Kyse Zorub, MSA president.
“One of our biggest goals is to build a community with the Muslims on campus,” Zorub, a senior studying Economics said. “Working with other people for your own religion … make[s] people feel like they’re part of something.”
MSA does this through regular social gatherings, service events and dinners for its roughly 200 active members and the greater Loyola community, Zorub said.
“We want to show what Islam is really about,” Zorub said. “Islam is not what you see in the media. If we do our part, we can make the lives of others a lot easier. [We can show] that Muslims care for other people.”
Orthodox Christian Fellowship
According to Alexia Chibucos, the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) serves multiple purposes for the roughly 30 students it serves.
“[OCF] provide[s] a platform for anyone who is interested in learning about orthodoxy and helping our community,” Chibucos, Loyola junior and president of OCF, said. “It’s also a space for anyone and everyone to take a step back from campus life and think about life.”
Chibucos said the members have “grown very close” through their involvement in OCF.
Monthly discussions about life and religion are regular parts of the OCF community, along with social events, such as their recent Back to School Barbecue, Chibucos said.
According to Chibucos, balancing faith and modern life is a huge aspect of OCF.