Spirituality ‘Pop-Up Sessions’ Offer Safe Space for Students

Every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. students can find Carrie Badertscher in the Student Center offering a safe space for dialogue, community, or a place to have lunch. Badertscher, a Protestant chaplain who serves part time at a local South Bend church, spends the rest of her time on campus holding office hours, and a once-a-week “pop-up session.”

Campus Ministry serves a vital role on campus by accompanying students as they grow spiritually as well as academically. Looking to expand the Campus Ministry team, College leaders met with Badertscher over the summer in hopes of hiring a chaplain. What they didn’t realize is the impact it would have. When Badertscher first started in the fall 2021 semester, she would sit in the Campus Ministry office during her Thursday pop-ups, with an average of seven students stopping by to talk. Now, she averages conversations with 50 students throughout the day and has extended her time on campus to accompany one-on-one meetings.

She’s known as Pastor Carrie, and her presence helps communicate that Campus Ministry is for everyone, no matter their religious affiliation or comfort level with spirituality. All are welcome.

And in her short time here, Pastor Carrie has quickly realized these sessions aren’t just for pastoral care, but for camaraderie as well. “What they’re finding during these sessions isn’t so much a program, but a space where students can be who they are,” she said. 

“I started by sitting in the ministry center with students stopping by. But as the weeks went on, I began to realize my presence was less important because they had each other.” Students flowing in and out of the office look to Pastor Carrie and fellow students for advice on their faith journey, relationships, help with their classes, or just someone to be with during lunch. 

One student credits the pop-up session community for helping her through her first year on campus. “This is a very safe space to talk about anything without the fear of being judged,” said Grace Johnston ’25

Badertscher says, “My hope with this model is that the students become really good at caring for each other so they need less pastoral counseling, because they have community care.”

Click here to learn more about Campus Ministry.

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