As Seen In: de Sales Sheet Magazine, Spring 2022 Edition
Mount de Sales alumni who graduated before 2002, cannot imagine the campus without the Sisters of Mercy in the classroom. Their presence was a visible reminder of the Catholic faith and underscored that faith in general is not limited to church on Sundays. Today, the connection with our Catholic roots is noticeable in the Franciscan Friar who serves as our campus minister. Father Casey Cole was assigned to the St. Peter Claver parish last year and splits his time between ministering to students at St. Peter Claver School and MDS.
Father Casey challenges traditional stereotypes of life in the ministry – he is young, an avid baseball fan, and he has a social media following that rivals any secular influencer (more than 100,000!). He has written three books and will be traveling 17,000 miles this summer with a fellow Friar to visit every major league baseball stadium in the country while speaking, preaching, and signing books along the way. Father Casey is relatable, and he makes himself present and available to support adolescents in their faith journey.
To make connections with students and staff, Father Casey visits classrooms regularly joining in discussions and can often be seen chatting or tossing a ball with students at lunch. He is not afraid of discussing the tough issues that face young people in these times and teaches a senior theology elective on Faith in the Modern World. Each week, he leads Mass for a theology class, and Father Casey finds the intimate setting encourages students to ask questions, which often leads to engaging discussions.
Father Casey was raised Catholic. “I loved the power of the liturgy and the church’s history and enjoyed studying theology and ministry in college,” said Cole. “But I wanted to advocate for the poor, so I thought I might go into social work.” It was while Father Casey was at Furman University that he met some Franciscan Friars who were serving in the local community. Cole answered the call to join the Friars at age 22 and spent the next six years in formation before taking his vows and another two years of studying before he became a priest. Father Casey describes Franciscans as “contemplatives in action” as they strive to lead a balanced life of introspection and service to their communities. He volunteers at Daybreak Day Resource Center, which supports homeless citizens, and at the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry in addition to his school-based ministry.
When working with Catholic and non-Catholic students, Fr. Casey prioritizes evangelizing, which he describes as loving your faith to the point where you want to share it with others, over proselytizing, which seeks to convert. Given the fact that young people are rapidly leaving organized religion and often express no connection to a faith, Fr. Casey hopes that by presenting a nuanced perspective of the church and providing students with the opportunity to pray, that seeds of faith will be planted and grow within each student over time.
You can follow Fr. Casey’s summer travels at www. breakinginthehabit.org.
About Mount de Sales Academy
Mount de Sales Academy, an independent Catholic school established in 1876 and sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy, is a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve. www.mountdesales.net