By Anthony B. Mottley

Ask Hannah Kargul, president of the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Catholics on Campus student organization, why she brought an almost life-size cutout of Pope Francis to the University Center. Kargul, a UM-D junior, says the answer is simple.

“It’s a conversation starter. My freshman year we weren’t very active–I really wanted to build community and show people the love of God and share it with them.”

The group recently earned its status as an official student organization and only has about seven active members, according to Kargul. Nevertheless, the group holds regular weekly activities.

“There is a group of us that get together on Wednesday nights at the Gabriel Richard Center for mass, praise and worship and a free dinner provided by the Gabriel Richard Center.” Kargul said, “On Thursday nights we meet on the second floor of the Mardigian Library to hangout, chat and have dinner.  It’s just a good time praying together, building a community.”

Catholics on Campus has operated on campus since the University was founded, but Kargul led the charge to gain official status from the Office of Student Engagement.

So far, the response has been slow, but growing.

“We have a few students that have been super active,” she said. “To me, this is important. Whatever people’s backgrounds are we just want to reach out and let people know that God loves them.”

Kargul admits that many people in her generation are not religious, but she is not discouraged.

“My goal is to show people that Jesus is alive, that Jesus exists, and that Jesus loves you.”

But why coffee with the Pope?

“It’s just fun,” said Kargul.  “We’ve got a nice cutout of the Pope. Take a picture, hang out, have some free coffee and donuts. Everybody loves free stuff. Everybody loves Pope Francis.”