Sheil launches new campaign to increase presence on campus

Ally Mutnick

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Northwestern’s Sheil Catholic Center launched a new campaign Wednesday to widen the organization’s presence on campus and reach out to potential new members.

Sheil chaplain and director Rev. John Kartje approached six students about coordinating the “We Are Sheil” campaign in October. The cornerstone of the campaign is the two-minute video that showcases Sheil students and what they do outside of the church.

“We want to make Sheil cool, make Catholic cool again,” said Monika Buska, a Weinberg sophomore who is one of the campaign’s designers. “And show that we are a group of fun, normal, intelligent people that choose to make Sheil Catholic Center a part of our Northwestern experience in addition to the various activities that we are involved with around campus.”

The video is a part of a new website where students can share their experiences at Sheil via blog posts. Different Sheil members are featured each week.

The launch of the campaign coincided with Ash Wednesday, when Buska estimated Sheil hosts 400 students, double the normal attendance at its masses. Sheil members handed out buttons and flyers directing students to the website before services and ran a slideshow on a screen outside Sheil at 10 p.m.

Buska worked with Sheil as an account executive for Mark, an NU student ad agency, and said she sees the center as an important outlet for many Catholic students.

“I think that a lot of Northwestern students are spiritual or practice religion in some aspect, and they don’t feel comfortable sharing that,” Buska said. “I think this campaign provides a platform for students to discuss their religion and be proud of their beliefs.”

Medill freshman Kim Eyers, a featured student in the “We Are Sheil” video, joined Sheil on her first day on campus. She said she hopes the campaign can help generate the type of buzz that she sees for other NU religious organizations.

“I think that Hillel and Cru are the two that you hear about most often, and I do think that at times we’re one of the groups that’s sort of overlooked,” Eyers said. “I feel like they’ve made a lot larger effort to advertise and to hold events and to promote their organizations, and I think that this is really part of Sheil’s way of putting itself out there and saying, ‘Hey, we’re here too.'”

Kartje said he hoped the campaign would attract students who were raised in the Catholic faith but did not necessarily identify with it outside of their family life.

“Part of the primary message that we want to get across here is that for these students their faith is important to them,” he said. “But it’s very well integrated into everything that they’re doing. It’s part of their identity.”