Welcome to University Ministry

As an integral part of our Catholic Franciscan University, University Ministry and its staff are here to serve and welcome each member of the USF community no matter your faith or religious background. Following the example of our patrons saints Francis and Clare, we challenge students to recognize God’s presence in all things. University Ministry at St. Francis is centered on our four cornerstones of prayer, discipleship, community, and service. All are invited to join in the faith
life of this vibrant community.

A University Ministry Overview

The University Ministry staff strives to serve and welcome each member of the USF community, no matter their faith or religious background. University Ministry is centered on four cornerstones of prayer, discipleship, community, and service. All are invited to join in the vibrant faith life of the University of St. Francis… learn more by watching our video!

University Ministry Programs & Services

Located on the third floor of the Motherhouse, the St. Joseph Chapel was dedicated in 1893 and originally served as the spiritual home of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, the university’s sponsoring congregation. Today the chapel is used for university liturgies and prayer. The chapel is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when school is in session, and provides the university community with a space for quiet and prayer.

Mass times are as follows:

  • Sunday at 7 p.m. in the St. Joseph Chapel
  • Monday, Tuesday, and Friday at 12:15 p.m. in the St. Joseph Chapel
  • Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. in the Tower Hall Chapel
  • Thursday at 12:15 p.m. in the Immaculate Conception Chapel at the St. Clare campus
  • Feast Days and Holy Days of Obligation will be announced

Reconciliation is always offered before Mass on Sundays or anytime by appointment.

An Interfaith Reflection Space is available across the hall from the St. Joseph Chapel. It is a place for quiet reflection and prayer for people of all faiths.,

Alumni and select other friends of St. Francis are eligible to use the St. Joseph Chapel for the celebration of their wedding ceremony. The wedding couple must include at least one alumnus/a and it must be a Catholic wedding ceremony approved by the Diocese of Joliet. If you are interested in getting married in the St. Joseph Chapel, please contact University Ministry.

University Ministry offers two retreats each year. Each semester, students have the opportunity to participate in an overnight retreat offered by University Ministry. Students of all faiths and of no faith at all are welcome to participate in our retreats. Please contact University Ministry.

University Ministry is comprised of professional full-time staff and a group of student leaders called Peer Ministers. Peer Ministers organize programming in residence halls, lead small faith communities, help to lead retreats, serve as lectors and Eucharistic Ministers at Mass, plan service projects and much more.

For information on how to become a Peer Minister, contact University Ministry.

During breaks and over the summer, University Ministry offers students the opportunity to serve, learn, and grow through mission experiences. If you would like more information about participating in any of these opportunities, please contact University Ministry.


Fall Break (Nazareth Farm, West Virginia)

Students are encouraged to spend their fall break participating in this experiential opportunity which truly embodies Franciscan living.

“Nazareth Farm is a Catholic community in rural West Virginia that transforms lives through a service-retreat experience. We are devoted to living out the Gospel message through the cornerstones of community, simplicity, prayer, and service. We serve alongside our neighbors to address substandard housing by providing home repair. We celebrate the richness of Appalachia and experience God by building relationships between our volunteers and the local community.”

In the past, USF students have been joined by other colleges such as: Creighton (NE), Aquinas (MI) and Notre Dame (IN).

INTERESTED? Seven students per year are able to join this trip, which costs approximately $275. University Ministry takes applications from August through September.

Winter Break (Philippines)

University of St. Francis students have the opportunity to join the Diocese of Joliet University Mission to Bacolod, Philippines. The primary goal of the mission is to build a house with the Gawad Kalinga organization. Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation, Inc. (GK) is a Philippine-based movement that aims to end poverty for 5 million families, by first restoring the dignity of the poor. Students who attend also dialogue with local university students and spend time with families in the village.

INTERESTED? The trip usually leaves at the end of December or early in January and lasts around 10 days.

Spring Break

Each spring break students are offered an alternative spring break trip; the purpose of which is to serve the chosen area, build community among students, and grow as an individual in faith. USF students have gone to Whole Kids Outreach in Missouri and to Biloxi, Mississippi to help with home repair/construction/demolition through Hope CDA – an agency helping residents, six years after Hurricane Katrina, to recover. Our place may change, but the purpose will always remain – to live lives of service.

INTERESTED? The trip costs approximately $250-$300. University Ministry takes names from December through February so that the group size, cost and arrangements can be finalized. Deposits are required by Feb. 1.

Summer Break (Bolivia)

The University Mission to Sucre, Bolivia began in 1995 through the efforts of Sr. Dolores Zemont, O.S.F., at the University of St. Francis. In 2001, it was expanded by the Diocese of Joliet’s Peace and Social Justice Ministry to include students from all three of the diocese’s Catholic universities: Benedictine University, Lewis University and the University of St. Francis. In partnership with the Diocese’s Peace and Justice office, students from the College of DuPage, Elmhurst College, Joliet Junior College and North Central College are also included in this mission opportunity. While in Sucre, students serve at several orphanages, day care centers, a hospital built by the diocese and two psychiatric centers.

INTERESTED? The Bolivia Mission generally occurs for 12-15 days in June.

University Ministry Team

University Ministry Sr. Mary Imler

Sr. Mary Elizabeth Imler, OSF

Vice President for Mission
Integration & Ministry
815-740-2622
mimler@stfrancis.edu

University Ministry Fr. Terry Dettenbaugh

Fr. Terry Deffenbaugh, OSA

University Ministry Sr. Gayle Rusbasan

Sr. Gayle Rusbasan, OSF​

Assistant Director of University Ministry
815-740-5074
grusbasan@stfrancis.edu

Peer Ministers

Leslie Delgado

Leslie Delgado

I am a junior psychology major and biology minor and a residential peer minister on the 3rd floor of Tower Hall. I am from a small town, Spring Valley, Illinois. Here on campus, I love to stay involved, and I am also a Saints Ambassador, a member of the psychology club, a member of Latino Honors Society, Unidos Vamos a Alcazar, and many more clubs and activities. This year I am most excited for my Small Franciscan community, “Virtue and Vulnerability,” where we can learn more about who we are and build meaningful connections. 

Michael Nickel

Michael Nickel

Michael Nickel is a senior Business Management major and Residential Peer Minister on the 4th floor of Motherhouse. Michael will also be graduating this December, and he hopes to continue his ministry in the business world after graduation. He’s from St. Louis, Missouri and has been very involved in numerous service opportunities while at USF. Michael is the Missions and Social Justice Peer Minister, as well as the president of the volunteer club, Saints in Action. Michael also works as a Servant Leader for the College of Business & Health Administration, and loves to talk about anything ministry-related or not. If you’re interested in service opportunities, Michael can provide you with all the information and show you where to sign up.

taylor petz

Taylor Petz

Taylor Petz is a junior Management major and in her first year as a Residential Peer Minister on the 4th floor of Marian Hall and first year as a Small Franciscan Community facilitator. She is from Sarasota, Florida. She is actively involved on campus outside of Peer Ministry including the Women’s Golf team, vice president of Student Endeavors for SGA, vice president of Student Activities Board, a Servant Leader for the College of Business & Health Administration a few other clubs and organizations on campus as well. This year, she hopes to encourage others to reconnect with their religion or find a new one. She is very excited for her new Small Franciscan Community, “Sports and Spirits,” which focuses on athletes who stand up for their religious beliefs and how they use their religion to overcome obstacles and challenges in life.

Samreen Mushtaheed

Samreen Mushtaheed

Samreen Mushtaheed is a senior Biology major with a minor in Chemistry and a Pre-Medicine concentration, and this is her first year as a commuter Peer Minister. Her hometown is Naperville, and she is greatly involved at USF. She is the president for Students Today Alumni Tomorrow, chair of Duns Scotus Honor Society, a Saints Ambassador, a Commuter Assistant, and is part of many more clubs. She is most excited about bringing different cultures and religions together and sparking conversation to spread knowledge and unity.

Mary Mathieu

Mary Mathieu

Mary Mathieu is a junior at USF triple majoring in English, Psychology, and Theology. This will be her first year as a Missions and Justice Motherhouse Residential Peer Minister. Through her position, she aims to be a safe person for others by authentically sharing her journey of living with past trauma and mental health struggles. By voicing her truth, she hopes to guide others to discover their own truth— that they are lovable and capable beings worthy of being fought for even when the world attempts to tell them otherwise.

Payton Peri Rolón

Payton is a Nursing major with a Spanish minor. She wants to get heasters in nursing to become a midwife and help to solve the epidemic of high maternal mortality rates amongst women of color. She is newly Catholic and came into the church August 2020. She was raised apostolic Pentecostal. She is a part of the Alpha Kappa chapter of Alpha Psi Lambda and the San Alberto Hurtado Latino Honor Society here on campus.

TJ Sforza

TJ Sforza

T.J. is a senior majoring in Accounting. He is a Small Franciscan Community facilitator for “Things We Feel.” T.J. is also a Servant Leader for the College of Business & Health Administration, an SGA Senator, and part of S.C.A.L.E.S. Off campus, he is a cantor at his parish. He serves on multiple finance boards at the parish and in his community. T.J. lives in Braidwood.

Jonathan Gracia

Jonathan Gracia

More about Jonathan will be coming soon!

Nicole Kulon

Nicole is working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, focusing in Business Management. In addition to being the Liturgical Music Peer Minister for University Ministry, she manages the university’s Women’s Volleyball Team, is a Servant Leader in the College of Business & Health Administration, and works in the Alumni and Family Relations Office as a student-worker on campus. During Nicole’s free time, she enjoys singing and spending time with her friends. 

Carolina Huerta

Carolina Huerta is a junior Nursing student. She commuted from Bolingbrook the last two years, but now she lives in Tower Hall. Carolina is also a director of Rec Club, so you will see her out in the Quad a lot! This year as a Peer Minister, she is the Spiritual Growth Peer Minister, so you will find her at Mass every Sunday, the Peace Pole Prayers, and Adoration Tuesdays. Carolina also writes those inspiring Engaging Mind & Spirit quotes on the USF portal.

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