With the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s campus closing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, UL Lafayette’s religious organizations are attempting to adapt and maintain support for their members.
The decision to shut down the UL Lafayette campus in late March and necessary practice of social distancing left religious organizations in a situation where they could not continue their regular meetings. During this time, these organizations are attempting to continue to maintain relations with their members and any individuals who need support at this time.
Jessica Trahan, director of Wesley United Campus Ministry — a Christian-based religious organization that has been a part of UL Lafayette for 80 years now — spoke about the steps that UL Wesley is taking during this time and the effects that COVID-19 is having on the organization, its members, and the community.
“I see our responsibility, as a campus ministry, to be a resource available when needed,” Trahan said. “We are rooted in real relationships, and my hope is that those students who have connected with us know that we are here for them.”
“The primary source of communication with our students has been via text and/or phone call,” Trahan said, speaking on how UL Wesley is keeping in touch with its members.
Multiple other campus religious organizations have taken advantage of online social platforms, such as Zoom, Facebook and Instagram, as a means of communication. On the UL Wesley Facebook and Instagram pages, Trahan posts weekly check-ins, motivational messages, advertisements for ways to help the community and, recently, did Facebook Live events for their celebration of the Easter holiday. Other organizations such as UL Lafayette’s Baptist College Ministry, Ragin’ Cajun Catholics and Young College Life are also using Facebook and Zoom as a way to host virtual gatherings and share positivity and thoughts.
Similarly, UL Lafayette’s chapter of Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship has now integrated remote Zoom meetings in place of their physical ones, as well as utilized social media to publish weekly services called “Thursday Night Live” at 7 p.m. on the Chi Alpha Facebook page. As a silver lining in this situation, Chi Alpha director, Cole Lusby, said they will continue to use Zoom as a resource in the future as a way to continue meetings while on summer, winter, and spring breaks.
Chi Alpha is also doing what they call a “Senior Spotlight” in which they have seniors involved in Chi Alpha share how their experiences with the organization impacted them personally.
“While we are separated, we feel dearly the love of God and the love for one another,” Lusby said. “Separation does not create broken relationships.”
A specific quote that Trahan continues to reference as advice for all people in this time is Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
She continues to impress on the members of the UL Wesley and the entire UL Lafayette community that there is a brighter future ahead.
“Be sad, angry, happy, be whatever emotion, but recognize that this too shall pass,” Trahan said. “Be grateful for what we have and who we are and we will celebrate on the other side of this.”
Lusby and Trahan both continually emphasize that it is important to them and their organization that the UL Lafayette community remains safe and healthy in the midst of this pandemic. With their organizations rooted in faith and genuine relationships, they encourage all those looking for support and/or a spiritual relationship to reach out to them or join them in their online presences.
Both speaking to how they are processing this pandemic, Lusby and Trahan had hopeful words.
“We are learning from this and will continue to strive to become a better organization to serve the UL students & faculty,” Lusby said.
And, in the words of Trahan, “If we love people well, we have done our job and will be ready for those days when we can gather in person again.”