By Pegeen Hopkins
What does Agape Latte offer to students?
First and foremost, it affords them the opportunity to see their professors or University administrators in a very human light. Which they don’t always see if they meet professors only in class or get an email from an administrator once a week.
For our student leaders, it helps them to be creative — they make fliers and come up with topics and speakers they’d like to invite. It also helps them practice relational skills: The only way other students are going to attend is if the leaders themselves are inviting them. They will invite the speakers to come as well, walking presenters through their talks, and giving a friendly critique about content.
Another beauty of the program is that it offers students who may be on the peripheries of a personal faith journey an open, casual conversation about faith. They come to see that, in an increasingly secularized world, faith is still very important to their fellow students and to their professors.
The program deepens relationships and moves the professor-student interaction beyond “I’m the teacher; here’s the information you need to know so you can go get a job” to a very human experience. It allows people to see that at Seton Hall, Catholic identity is not something reserved only for the chapel or handled solely by Campus Ministry. They see that faith is, in fact, experienced within campus culture — both in and out of the classroom.
Who has Seton Hall’s Agape Latte featured so far?
Dean Christopher Kaiser from the College of Arts and Sciences spoke about the times in his life where he’s experienced hope through hardships and how his faith played a role in that. Professor Melinda Papaccio from the English Department spoke about how the Word of God played a role in the most tragic moment of her life.
How has Agape Latte been received on campus?
The program has been well received by the students. A lot of the feedback included sentiments such as, “I had this professor in class, but I never knew that about them, and it was really eye-opening” or “It was really encouraging to hear that they’re a person of faith like me.”
Coming out of two years of pandemic where people were shut off from each other, many people have lost skills of how to socialize and have a casual conversation. Agape Latte opens up a lot of doors.