ASPIRATION: St. Mary University Parish aims to welcome all students at Central Michigan University and Mid Michigan Community College. We desire to form a parish family that aids students in fostering ever-closer relationships with God and the Church, which accordingly sends them out to engage others in trans-formative witness and service.

WAY OF PROCEEDING: Beginning fall 2017, the formation of student households within St. Mary University Parish will be a primary way of developing a parish family that helps to fulfill this mission and ministry. Student households are joyful, Catholic-based, single-sexed groups of either twelve or sixteen students (i.e., use of the word “households” does not imply that members necessarily live together). Members support their brothers and sisters in integrating faith in their daily lives through socializing, growing, praying, and serving together and with others. Non-Catholic Christians may be members if they are comfortable with the households’ Catholic-basis. The households are not cliques within the parish but rather they are to connect and to interact with other households and parishioners as one parish family. Households are given enough flexibility to meet the ever-changing needs of students.


In establishing Households, a group of students are to discern and choose the following, in due course:

UNIQUENESS:       Households must discern what distinguishes themselves from other households; that is, whether they have specific missions (i.e., aims and values), focuses, interests, and/or accommodations, for instance (e.g., mission: to promote faith and justice; focus: Ignatian/Jesuit spirituality; interest: outdoor activities; accommodation: varsity athletes’ schedules).

NAME:                    Households are to name themselves after patron saints or blesseds of their respective sexes that are somehow meaningful to their identities (e.g., Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. John XXIII, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, or St. Teresa of Ávila / a household with an outdoor interest may decide to name itself after St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, or St. Hubert, the patron saint of hunters).

CREST:                  Households are to create crests that represent themselves. Crests should incorporate symbolism related to the households’ patrons (e.g., the Household of St. Brigid of Kildare may choose a cow, a crosier, or Brigid’s cross, which are symbols of her).

COLORS:               Households are to pick two colors that should be accentuated in their crests, promotional materials, potential clothing (e.g., t-shirts), and competitions (e.g., sports). These colors may have a connection with their patrons (e.g., the Household of St. Dominic may choose black and white, since they are the traditional colors of Dominican habits). The colors should be incorporated into the crests.

MASCOT:               Households are to choose mascots that can be used in promotional materials and events. They may have a connection with their patrons (e.g., the Household of St. Daniel may be the “Lions,” since the lion is a symbol of his) and the mascot should be incorporated into their crests.

MOTTO:                Households are to select mottos that are relevant to their identities, which perhaps are connected to their patrons (e.g., the Household of St. Clare of Assisi may choose “Pax et bonum” or “Peace and goodness,” which is a Franciscan greeting). The mottos should be incorporated into their crests.


Households should discern and plan their activities, which may accentuate their identities. Some may be more restrictive in how often they meet, for instance, if they accommodate marching band or varsity athlete schedules (i.e., they may emphasize quality over quantity). Most households may normally opt to plan one activity per week during the fall and spring semesters outside of breaks, examinations, and shortened weeks. Given that students are first and foremost pursuing their course of studies and integrating faith in daily life, households need to be realistic regarding their activities and attendance. Households are encouraged to use activities planned by the parish, Reach Out (i.e., the Registered Student Organization of CMU that is the Catholic student association affiliated with the parish), university/college, and community for some of their activities (e.g., participating in Sunday supper after 6 pm Mass or partaking in CMU intramural sports). They are also encouraged to invite other households to their events, to co-host events with brother/sister households or groups e.g., BBQs), and to create their own traditions in keeping with Catholic morals (e.g., welcoming new members and honoring seniors). Activities generally should fall under one or more of the following categories: socialize, pray, grow, and serve (n.b., there will be overlap, which is encouraged).

SOCIALIZE:           Households should foster brotherhood and sisterhood through various forms of socialization. This could include eating meals together, pick-up basketball games, playing cards, or BBQs and lawn games with brother and sister households. Households are encouraged to establish traditions, such as going on a fishing trip every fall, enjoying a weekend in Chicago after exams, skiing during Christmas break in northern Michigan, or attending a Detroit Tigers’ baseball game every spring. It is also suggested that they organize at least one signature social event per year, usually co-sponsored with other households (e.g., talent show, decades’ dance, carnival, “olympics,” or ping pong tournament). Signature events could raise money for charity. Recreational sports in the parish could be organized so that households play other households in tournaments or seasonal sport championships.

REMEMBER: It is through socializing together that community is fostered and faith and values are naturally shared. Faith and values do not need to be constantly discussed; they need to be lived in what Christians say and do daily.

PRAY:                     Households are to gather at least once monthly for prayer and faith-sharing in whole months during the fall and spring semesters (i.e., September, October, November, January, February, March, and April). The type of prayer may be stable or change depending on the household (e.g., traditional Catholic prayers, centering prayer, petitionary prayer, meditation, Ignatian Contemplation, Lectio Divina {i.e., scripture reading, meditation, and prayer}, or devotions such as Eucharistic Adoration and the Rosary). Faith-sharing is a confidential, holistic sharing of how we are integrating faith in life—school, relationships, work, recreation, and so forth: ups and downs in seeing God’s presence, blessings and struggles, growth and lapses, desires and fears, etc. The faith-sharing may be free-based, or a biblical passage, prayer, or an excerpt of spiritual writing may be used as a springboard (n.b., spiritual advisors will assist with this). All households are encouraged to partake in parish-sponsored retreats and pilgrimages if their schedules and readiness permit. Participating in a specific Sunday Mass together (10:15 am, 6 pm, or 9 pm), at least occasionally, is also encouraged.

 GROW:                   Households should plan or partake in events that further their growth in faith, citizenship, emotional intelligence, and human potential (which includes physical fitness and wellbeing) at least once per semester. Hence, they may wish to participate in a parish talk on faith formation, a CMU event on financial responsibility, strength training in the SAC, or a community event on how human-trafficking affects Mount Pleasant. They may also choose to do something on their own or host or co-host an event for one or more households or others (e.g., the basics of Catholic social teaching or “Beyond Ramen: Cooking on a Limited Budget”). Again, groups are not restricted to one “growth” event per semester. Hence, they could make bible studies central to their practices, or they could select a book to read and to discuss per semester. There is great flexibility.         

 SERVE:                   Households must partake-in or sponsor or co-sponsor a service project at least once per semester. The parish, Reach Out, CMU, and the community offer numerous opportunities. Households may wish to start service projects, perhaps with other households, that become traditions (e.g., a petting zoo, games, and food on the parish’s front lawn for children with special needs in Isabella County). In the future, the parish will offer alternative break service trips during Christmas break, spring break, and the summer. A household may opt to substitute an alternative break service trip for a semester service project (e.g., a household with several varsity athletes, marching band members, or ROTC cadets may partake in a summer service trip instead of completing a service project in the fall semester).


  • The Director of Student Outreach will oversee all student households in the parish.
  • A group of two same-sex students—of any undergraduate class or graduate status—may begin the process of forming a household. This work is completed with and overseen by the Director of Student Outreach. Their household is provisional until the initial process is completed.
  • To be fully recognized as a household, each charter group must have 12 or 16 students:
    1. 2 (if 8) or 3 (if 12) Freshmen (according to CMU’s designation);
    2. 2 (if 8) or 3 (if 12) Sophomores;
    3. 2 (if 8) or 3 (if 12) Juniors; and
    4. 2 (if 8) or 3 (if 12) Seniors / Graduate Students.

This ratio is to be preserved as much as possible every year. Obviously, there is some flexibility given the ebb and flow of academic class status. Ideally, each household will have a long legacy; however, some will cease and new ones will be formed to meet the needs of students. The symbols and photos of each household will be affixed in the parish center.

  • Each household will select a Head of Household who will facilitate discernment and other deliberation. He or she is not an authoritarian leader but rather a collaborative servant-leader that furthers consensus. If desired, other positions could be established, such as members who look after social, prayer, growth, or service events. A chronicler may keep a record of members, traditions, events, and memorabilia to pass down to future household members. (It would be good practice to keep in-touch with the households’ alumni.)
  • The Director of Student Outreach will meet occasionally with the Council of the Heads of Households for advisement. Given the lived experience of the groups, norms and resources may change to better meet the needs of students.
  • In discernment with each household, the Director of Student Outreach will appoint a Spiritual Advisor to assist each group, especially with prayer and faith-sharing. Currently, Jennifer Brittain, Fr. T.J. Fleming, and Cory Noeker, will serve as spiritual advisors.
  • More experienced, non-student parishioners may choose to become “parents,” “mothers,” or “fathers” to households. Occasionally, a married couple may, for instance, may invite their “adopted household” to their residence for dinner, vice versa.


  • Each household will have a financial account with the parish. Alumni, family, friends, and others may donate to a household, which will go into their account. Households may request this funding for events through an online form.
  • Households may request funding, facilities, and other resources for events from the parish using a simple online form. (n.b., Given the parish’s limited budget this fiscal year, funding may be quite limited for now. Events that are co-sponsored by multiple households will receive preference.)


Those interested in learning more or forming a household should sign-up in the parish lounge after Mass, email Cory Noeker at, and/or attend a meeting in the parish center lounge (see bulletin for dates).