POWELL: Come Holy Spirit

June 11, 2024

When students delve into the Blessed Trinity, they often focus on God the Father or God the Son, inadvertently overlooking the third member of the Godhead — the Holy Spirit. Despite being the least discussed among the three persons of God, the Holy Spirit is pivotal in campus ministry as it “builds, animates and sanctifies the Church” (CCC, No. 747). 

The Holy Spirit is not just a concept but a person to be known, loved and related to. Just as we know and love the Father and the Son, we can also know and love the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the enabler of all campus ministry, forging personal connections that strengthen the community and each individual’s spiritual journey.     

Though we may not be able to perceive when and where the Holy Spirit comes from tangibly, we can observe the effects of the Spirit. Jesus analogizes the Holy Spirit to the wind. We can hear the wind blowing but cannot see it. We do, however, perceive the effects of the wind.  

For example, when you see a tree swaying, you know the wind is blowing. Similarly, in campus ministry, we can see the effects of the Holy Spirit. For instance, we know the Holy Spirit is at work when students show love, joyfulness, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control and service. I have been fortunate this year to see these effects in several students.  

During our mission trip to Dallas this past spring, I saw the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in action. Students at times avoid manual labor where possible, but as they worked for those in need, they did this work with love, joyfulness, kindness and generosity — all of which were manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s presence and influence.  

I have seen students develop new strengths within them as the Holy Spirit is present, leading, transforming and guiding them. One student was inspired to learn more about Scripture this year. As the Spirit inspired the writing, so does the Spirit inspire the reading, and I have been amazed at her insightful reflections and how she is growing the mind and heart of Christ within herself.  

Another student recently entered the Church this Easter and was transformed by sacramental grace, mainly through the Eucharist. He was graced with an ability to forgive those who had abused him in the past, something which he struggled with deeply before then. These transformations are not just nice stories but real-life examples of the Holy Spirit’s power at work in these young people’s lives. 

Our adult Confirmation program was a testament to the transformative effects of the Holy Spirit. One student shared how she felt a stronger connection with the Body of Christ and is now inspired to participate more actively in the Sacraments, communal prayer, and fostering friendships with fellow believers on their shared faith journey. 
It is challenging for students to evangelize other students — their friends and peers. Still, several have been empowered to speak and witness courageously, just as the first disciples were enlivened by the Holy Spirit and filled with enthusiasm to continue the mission of Jesus. 

“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).  

If our lives are under the power and care of the Holy Spirit, we may only sometimes know where we will be led, but we can always know that it will be the right place for us. †

Simon Powell serves as director of Campus Ministry at Sam Houston State University Catholic Student Center in Huntsville.

A stained glass window depicts the Holy Spirit as a dove. (Photo by Philippe Lissac / Godong)