Among the many activities to do and organizations to attend, the UW- Eau Claire campus offers various ways for students to practice religion

Taking a closer look at faith-practice options in Eau Claire

More stories from Colette St John

Old stomping grounds
September 17, 2015
Among the many activities to do and organizations to attend, the UW- Eau Claire campus offers various ways for students to practice religion


A culturally and ethnically diverse university like Eau Claire leads to an array of religion and faith opportunities for students, including 15 on campus religious groups, each providing many options for church and worship areas.

The university offers religious groups such as Cru, Athletes in Action, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Navigators, Newman Student Association, Gospel Choir, DescipleShip, the Latter-Day Saint Student Organization, and many more to accommodate students.

Along with on campus groups, a Google search reveals over 50 options to practice faith in the area; from Pentecostal and Baptist to Christian Science, Lutheran and Catholic. One of those options includes the Newman Ecumenical Religious Center, located next to Hibbard Hall.

The Newman Center, a Catholic parish, welcomed a new priest this summer in the month of July, Father Dan Oudenhoven.

In regard to student opportunities within the church, Oudenhoven states Newman parish’s purpose is to help college students grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ during some of the most important years of academic growth.

“Newman parish has many opportunities for college students to practice and grow in their Catholic faith,” Oudenhoven said.

Opportunities for students include free monthly student dinners, faith groups, retreats and missionary work, serving over 325 families as well as many college students.

In addition, busy students are accommodated with four different masses offered each weekend, ensuring they can attend a service amidst hectic schedules.

Aboudi Mounir, junior biochemistry major, practices the Islam faith. As an Eau Claire native, Mounir has always attended the nearest mosque in Altoona.

According to the U.S religion census, the Muslim population in Eau Claire decreased by 27 percent from the year 2000 to 2010. Understanding the slim amount of fellow Islam from personal experience, Mounir sheds light about being a Muslim at UW-Eau Claire.

“I believe my religion makes me unique because while living in a town like Eau Claire there isn’t as much diversity as you would find in a Chicago or New York,” he said. “But the people of Eau Claire have always been respectful of others who do practice a different faith.”

A junior organizational communications and religious studies major, Emily Johnson, practices Christianity while attending a non-denominational church.

Faith is a driving factor for Johnson and the life she leads on campus, and she has continued to practice since coming to college through campus ministry in InterVarsity and bible study groups hosted by Bethesda Lutheran Church. She aspires to one day create a ministry coffee shop of her own.

“I have a lot of accountability from my community,” said Johnson. “I pray and I am involved in bible study.”

Many of the campus ministry organizations are marketed through flyers, posters, sidewalk chalk, Facebook pages and through attendance at the Blu’s Organizations Bash (BOB) each year.

Students who are looking for opportunities within the religious realm are accommodated in various ways on campus and in the Eau Claire community.