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Campus Impact

Case Study: University of Houston, TX

At a large university with an urban campus, the chaplain and campus minister find new ways for their students to encounter Jesus.

  • 25 Small Group Leaders Trained

  • 75 Small Groups Participants

  • 11 Individuals Receiving One-on-Ones


The University of Houston, an urban campus located in the heart of Houston, Texas, is home to 46,000 undergraduates. Chaplain Fr. Charles and Campus Minister Claire lead the Catholic Newman Center, beginning the relationship with The Evangelical Catholic in December 2018.  Claire has a deep passion for reaching the lost through evangelism. She also naturally recognized her work as a ministry of accompaniment: first, letting the Lord accompany us in our lives and then responding to his invitation to accompany others.

Claire and Fr. Johnson partnered with The Evangelical Catholic in order to reclaim the campus ministry as a place where students encounter the Lord. They believed that the campus ministry building should be more than a place for students to relax. They envisioned it as a place to invite students to build community focused around sharing life and a growing love of Jesus.

As Claire and Fr. Johnson discerned an initial round of leaders, they prayed for two students to join the first training group. The Lord answered their prayers by providing thirteen students! The overwhelming response to training group invitations taught Claire to serve from a place of humility, relying on Jesus to provide.

Working Alongside University Culture

Isolation and separation characterize the current culture on college campuses. Walking through campus, Claire notices the silence created by students walking alone, on their phones or with earbuds plugged in. Claire identifies “individualism,” so prominent on the University of Houston campus, as America’s second language. The biggest challenge to missionary discipleship that she and Fr. Johnson experience is not within the small groups or the ministry itself, but rather, in the culture of silence that plagues campus life. Creating and maintaining relationships appears radical against the cultural backdrop, but proposes an alternative that teaches students how to connect and be real with each other.

It truly is the small things about small group that are the most meaningful—friendships that are made, revelations that the group comes to, shared laughter and joys—all of these little moments are so beautiful and I’m blessed to have witnessed them.


Catholic Newman Center

Small Groups Push Through the Isolation

The combination of small groups and one-on-one discipleship mentoring sets EC training apart from other evangelization-oriented ministries. Small groups help build community and engage students who otherwise would not read Scripture or pray on a regular basis. One-on-ones provide more opportunities to connect with and invest in each student as well as provide tools to tackle spiritual challenges head on. 100% of students polled in a small group participation survey said that small groups helped them grow in their relationship with Jesus.