High honor for campus ministry director at Newman in Columbia


Angelle Hall was leading a Holy Week pilgrimage to the Marian shrines of Wisconsin when she got the email.

It said she had been chosen to receive the Catholic Campus Ministry Association’s (CCMA’s) Rev. Charles Forsyth Award for excellence in ministering to college students.

“So, here I am, walking with Mary, focusing on Jesus, and that’s when I find out!” marveled Mrs. Hall, director of Campus Ministry at the St. Thomas More Newman Center in Columbia.

The honor has set forth in her a torrent of gratitude for all of her mentors and forbears in ministry.

“This is the kind of award that all the people I’ve looked up to in campus ministry and who helped me — this is the kind of award they get!” she said.

Mrs. Hall has been serving in her role at the Columbia Newman Center since June 2007.

“I knew from the very beginning that the Lord had taken all the things I love to do — which was teach and mentor and listen and walk with people and help them grow in their gifts — and tied them all up with a bow and said, ‘I’m going to let you do this all day,’” she said.

CCMA Executive Director Rosie Chinea Shawver said Mrs. Hall’s passion for accompanying others on their spiritual journeys and advocating for their growth is truly inspiring.

“Angelle’s visionary leadership extends beyond the confines of her ministry, permeating every facet of campus life,” Mrs. Chinea Shawver stated in a letter to Bishop W. Shawn Mc­Knight.

At the University of Missouri, Mrs. Hall works to engage the breadth of campus life, including international students, Greek life, and the Newman Community.

She also collaborates with various ministry apostolates, including the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) and Evangelical Catholic.

She has forged strong bonds among Columbia’s local colleges and universities, “uniting them in a shared mission of faith, service and solidarity,” wrote Mrs. Chinea Shawver.

“Her boundless energy and commitment to inclusivity have fostered a vibrant and diverse community where every student feels welcomed and valued regardless of background of affiliation,” Mrs. Chinea Shawver stated.

“He took a chance”

Mrs. Hall, originally from New Orleans, found out that the Newman Center was looking for a campus ministry director while looking for a job in Missouri and preparing for marriage at Sacred Heart Parish in Columbia.

She had previously taught in an all-girls school and completed a master’s degree in religious education. Her thesis was on ministry and leadership development of women.

Dominican Father Stephen Kuhlman, who was her pastor at Sacred Heart at the time, suggested that she apply for the campus ministry position at Newman.

She applied and waited.

Dominican Father Thomas Saucier, who was then the pastor of the Newman Center parish, eventually called and asked if she was interested in the position.

“We met and kind of interviewed each other,” she recalled. “Then, he invited me to interview formally with the search committee.”

An hour after that interview, he called and offered her the job.

“I had been a high school teacher,” she recalled. “I had done a lot of retreat work. I had worked a lot with sorority women, advising and mentoring them in my younger years. I loved walking with students and digging deep into questions with them.

“Fr. Saucier took a chance on me that all of that could translate into effective campus ministry,” she said.

Catholic campus ministry in Columbia was on the verge of a powerful growth spurt, with the parish having two full-time campus ministers once Mrs. Hall was hired.

“We worked with Fr. Thomas and started to rock ’n roll a bit,” Mrs. Hall recalled.

The staff has grown significantly since then.

“We have such a great staff at the Newman Center, year-in and year-out,” said Mrs. Hall. “And we’re so blessed with so many incredible students who love Jesus and love growing in their faith.

“So, as the director, I also get to care for, accompany and walk with the staff,” she said. “I really enjoy doing that.”

The first missionaries from FOCUS arrived on campus in 2014.

“They’ve been a real blessing and we’ve learned a lot from each other,” said Mrs. Hall. “We all have one mission together.”

Thanks to the missionaries’ hard work, more than 400 students are now engaged in Catholic Bible studies on campus, she noted.

Holding on, letting go

Mrs. Hall enjoys working in an environment where the people can be responsive to current needs and the Holy Spirit’s inspiration.

“I love how we at Newman can be attuned to what God is doing right now and can move in that direction pretty quickly if we want to,” she said.

Students on campus come to her for advice, as do alumni who were active at the Newman Center a decade or more ago.

“I marvel that I get know them and how God makes them and how he gives the gifts that he gives to each of us,” she said.

One of the most difficult parts of her ministry occurs when students move on to the next part of their lives.

“There’s a grieving that comes with that,” she said. “Obviously, the students are incredible and they go off into the world, and we could fill a whole book with the incredible things our alumni and our current students are doing.”

Passing it along

Mrs. Hall described campus ministry as “the intersection of higher education and the Church.”

“We’re called to take care of the students, but we’re also called to be in the conversations on campus, part of advocating for what’s true and good,” she stated.

The CCMA (ccmanetwork.org) estimates that only 25 percent of college campuses in this country, including community colleges, have some sort of Catholic campus ministry presence.

“So, I care very much about forming campus ministers and supporting them,” said Mrs. Hall.

That has driven her affiliation with the CCMA.

“Older campus ministers once looked at me and said, ‘We’re going to get you certified,’” she noted. “They mentored and helped me, so I think about how I can help other campus ministers.”

She pointed to Father J. Friedel of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese, who was formerly president of the CCMA.

“He told me, ‘We’re going to help you,’ and he did,” she said.

She also mentioned Barbara McCrabb, who’s also receiving an award from CCMA this year.

Formerly a campus minister at Mizzou, Mrs. McCrabb is now assistant director for Higher Education for the Secretariat of Catholic Education at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Mrs. McCrabb was who encouraged Mrs. Hall to take on more responsibility with the CCMA and put her gifts to work there.

“These people challenged me and helped me, and I learned so much,” said Mrs. Hall. “So, in a lot of ways, I want to be that person looking at the next generation of campus ministers and say, ‘You! You’re amazing! I think you can do this, and I think I can help you.’”

“Taste of heaven”

Mrs. Hall marvels at how God keeps putting her in the right places and calling forth gifts from her that can be helpful to others.

“I’m surprised at so much of what has come together in this role and that God had all of this in mind for me,” she said.

She’s also amazed by all the students whose journeys she’s been able to share a small part of.

“And when I see so many of them come back for homecoming, I get really overwhelmed, with so many of them in the same place,” she said.

“When so many people who mean so much to you are together in one place, you say, ‘I hope I get to heaven, because I think this is a little taste of that,’” she added.

Mrs. Hall’s parents, husband, son and her whole family have been inordinately supportive of her ministry at Newman.

She’s convinced that her work at Newman has helped her be a better wife and mom.

“For one thing, it’s wonderful that you come to a place every day where people are trying to live according to what Jesus tells you, and where you get this kind of support,” she said.

Each day, she continues the work because she believes it’s what God wants her to do.

“I’m always praying, ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’” she said. “And so far, he’s kept me here and convinced me that there are still things he wants me to do here.”

She encourages everyone who’s restlessly seeking their own place in the Church to lean on their faith community and fully trust in God and his timing.

“The Lord knows you, loves you, sees your holy desires, and he’s at work for you,” she said. “Sometimes, we have to be patient and keep our spiritual eyes on so we can be ready when he opens the door.

“And even if we miss the door being opened, he can work with that, too,” she stated.