Joliet, Ill. – The years that immediately follow high school can represent a transformative time for students as they walk a journey to connect with their faith. For Dianne Rostollan, Director of University Ministry at the University of St. Francis (USF), accompanying students during this time is an exciting and fulfilling opportunity.

Rostollan, who joined USF in August, is immersed in her first semester of working with college students as learn more about themselves and their faith.

“College students are seeking and trying to figure out who and what they want to be as individuals in their own faith and in their own journey. That is exciting to me. I know it was an important and exciting time for me when I was in college, and I want to be a part of that seeking journey with students here during their college years,” said Rostollan.

She added that this opportunity at USF, a Catholic and Franciscan liberal arts university, is one that will allow her to work with students from a variety of faith backgrounds.

“Whether students are Catholic, Muslim, or have no faith at all, it is exciting to walk with them on that journey,” she added.

As the fall semester continues, Rostollan is focused on becoming more familiar with the many components of USF’s ministry offerings and will be focused on engaging students in multiple ways.

“I plan to continue getting to know what the university offers in the area of ministry, but there will be a strong focus on interfaith activities and interfaith dialogue. We will be attempting to get students to come together, regardless of their faith background, and realize that everyone has a place in university ministry,” she said.

Rostollan is hopeful that providing students with opportunities to gather in small groups called Small Franciscan Communities will play a large role in students’ respective journeys.

“Our Small Franciscan Communities will offer something for every student. Some groups will be scripture-based, while others will challenge students to identify where they are in their life and identify where they feel energy, and then explore from there. No matter the topic or the purpose, though, each of these groups will be inclusive,” Rostollan said.

In order to maximize these opportunities to engage students, Rostollan plans to lean heavily on her peer ministers.

“We have ten peer ministers this year, all of whom are incredible young adults. They help to develop a majority of our activities and serve as the hands and feet on the ground. They give us the pulse of what’s happening on campus and help to identify what our students need so that we can develop programming to meet those needs,” she said.

Rostollan added that some of the peer ministers live on campus in USF residence halls. These students have open-door policies to be there for students whenever the need presents itself.

As she walks along with students in their faith journey, Rostollan stresses that the Franciscan value of service is woven throughout university ministry activities.

“Service is a big part of what ministry does, and there will be countless examples of this throughout each year,” Rostollan said. “Our first-year students have already served the Will County area. As part of their Foundations course, they and their instructors spent a Saturday in August giving back at a variety of locations, including Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Joliet, the Joliet Prison the Will County Forest Preserve’s Theodore Marsh in Crest Hill), Sharefest Will County in New Lenox, Hands of Hope in Joliet, the Spanish Community Center in Joliet; Big Brothers, Big Sisters  in Joliet and the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Joliet.”

“Also, continuing in the long-time USF tradition, our Saints in Action group goes to Daybreak once each week to cook and serve breakfast for residents. In a given month, we provide five to six meals through these service efforts,” she added. “We typically have mission trips, as well, and we are hopeful that our domestic trips are able to resume at some point this year.”

In choosing to continue her career at USF, Rostollan’s decision was solidified once she came to campus. The feeling she had at that time is one she hopes to replicate for students this year.

“It just felt like home. Everyone with whom I interacted was welcoming. The campus felt unified and respectful. It felt like a community, and that is the feeling I hope to replicate through our university ministry offerings,” she said.

“University Ministry is central to fulfilling our mission of being a ‘welcoming community of learners.’ Through this department, small communities of faith are formed which give witness to the presence of our good and gracious God. Dianne brings a friendly and passionate presence that we are sure will strengthen what has been in place,” said Sr. Mary Elizabeth Imler, OSF, USF Vice President of Mission Integration and University Ministry.

Rostollan’s career to date has demonstrated a focus on youth ministry. Prior to her arrival at USF, Rostollan served as Director of Youth Ministry at St. Mary Immaculate Parish in Plainfield. Before that, she was Director of Youth Ministry at the Sheboygan North Catholic Parishes (comprised of Holy Name of Jesus Parish, St. Clement Parish, and St. Dominic Parish in Sheboygan, Wis.) for six years. She also spent time as a missionary and part of a youth ministry team in Gauteng, South Africa.

Rostollan holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and religious studies from Albion College in Albion, Mich., and a Master of Arts in Christian doctrine from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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