UUs of Northeastern University: Leona’s Story

Last year, we launched the Greater Boston Area Campus Ministry, the largest effort in UUism to provide a spiritual home to college students. This year, we expanded that program to not only bring Boston area students together for our worship, small groups, and other gatherings, but to support those students in founding UU groups on their own campuses. After creating a Boston area campus group, we’re working to build a UU campus ecosystem. Leona is one of our student leaders and we wanted to share a bit of her story with you. -Matt Meyer, Director of Community Life for Sanctuary Boston

Starting college is an intense and stressful transition. Many students are living on our own for the first time, sometimes in a place far from where we’re from. I went through this process in 2021 when I moved from Gaithersburg, Maryland to Boston to go to Northeastern University. Amidst all the chaos of this transition, I felt lonely and lost. I wasn’t meeting as many people at my school as I’d hoped, and the pandemic made it even harder to meet new people and make friends. So I began looking for activities for college students in the Boston area to meet more people and make more connections. It was during this search that I stumbled upon an interest form for Sanctuary Boston’s Campus Ministry Program. I didn’t grow up UU and was never a part of a youth group at my home church, but it aligned with my personal values and looked like a good chance to meet other college students. 

Students meet up before a Sanctuary Boston worship service.

A couple weeks later, I was on my way to my first Campus Ministry get-together before a Sanctuary Boston worship service. I was nervous to go, but am so glad I did because that evening was the highlight of my week, which has been true for every Campus Ministry get together ever since. It was a small group of students who gathered early for pizza (vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, oh my!) and conversation flowed naturally from the start. We discussed lots, from typical get-to-know-you questions, like where we were from and what we were studying, to funny, niche topics, like the worst meal at our dining halls and our favorite article of clothing. By the time the service had started, it felt as if we had known each other for much longer than an hour and a half. This special connection between us students was solidified at the end of the service, when the Sanctuary Band announced it was going to perform “This is Me” from the movie The Greatest Showman. We were all so excited to hear this song, as we had all seen and loved the movie. We promptly got up and danced along with the little kids of Sanctuary for the whole song. As the final note was played, we looked at each other, completely out of breath, and knew we had found something special. 

Since that first incredible night, We have gone on retreats together, visited the MFA, participated in Sanctuary small groups, drank hot chocolate while watching the Christmas Tree Lighting at the Boston Commons, and we’ve enjoyed and led countless Sanctuary worship gatherings. The Sanctuary Campus Ministry is one of my favorite parts about being a college student in Boston, and I feel so incredibly lucky every day to call my fellow Campus Ministry students a found family and Sanctuary Boston a found home. 

-Leona Ripple

To learn more about the Boston Area Campus Ministry, click here.