Lent small groups


Students explore faith together during Lent

Lessons on faith and personal growth merged this Lent season with students and faculty members taking part in small discussion groups at Bluffton University.

“The purpose of the Lent small groups is to provide an opportunity to examine our walk with God while sharing about our journey of faith with others,” said Stephen “Tig” Intagliata, campus pastor. “Usually when we think of Lent we think of giving something up, which can be helpful, but it can also be a time to take something on that will help us grow as disciples of Jesus. The small groups provide an opportunity for that to happen in a community setting.”

Megan Hill, a sophomore from Arcadia, Ohio, quickly realized these small groups were a great opportunity to try something new with her roommate while also getting the opportunity to learn more about herself.

“I have found a greater sense of self-discovery by being a part of this group,” said Hill. “This group has allowed me to be more open and honest with myself about my personal setbacks and goals, and where I’m putting myself in regard to my ability to try and achieve those things.”

For the fourth year in a row, Bluffton’s spiritual life team has offered both students and faculty a weekly small group sessions that focuses on Lent. Led by a wide variety of faculty and staff members, these groups are a time for students to come together and learn more about their faith.

Courtney Jasinski, a sophomore from Englewood, Ohio, and Hill’s roommate felt like she was able to develop stronger relationships with the students within her group.

“Throughout the past couple of weeks, I have talked to my group members more than I ever have because we connected over something in our discussion,” said Jasinski.

Jasinski and Hill were a part of the small group led by Dr. Julie DeGraw, vice president for student life and dean of students. The group meets every Wednesday at DeGraw’s house. These sessions started with small talk and tea for the students to enjoy before the group delved into deeper conversation.

The students aren’t the only ones who benefited from these weekly meetings. Intagliata believes that this is a great opportunity for bridges to be built between students and faculty and staff members.

“We get to know each other on a deeper level and share more intentionally about our faith journeys with each other,” said Intagliata. “There is not only some important mentoring that takes place in such a setting from faculty and staff to students, but I know from my own experience that the students help me understand better the realities that their generation faces and what it means to be faithful in the midst of those realities. The students also challenge me to live out the faith that I profess in ways that are real and authentic. So really, these groups are a win-win the way I see and experience it.”

This year there were 40 students participants led by five faculty and staff members. The groups used the book “Perfectly Yourself: 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness” by Matthew Kelly to facilitate conversation. Chapter themes include “Perfectly Imperfect” and “Unburden Yourself” and each chapter ends with guidelines about how to incorporate the lesson of the chapter into your daily life.


- Jena O’Brien, public relations student assistant

Julie DeGraw and students