Campus Ministry Promotes Caring with Rocks

Brianna Bailey
For ‘The Clock’

Most of us have been dragging our feet through a semester marked by a distinct lack of breaks. While we have had some mental health days scattered throughout, they have done little to truly remedy this impediment on our ability to recharge and decompress. To top it all off, this fatigue only seems to worsen as finals week looms on the horizon. Where can we turn to for some relief? Not many people would think something as mundane as rocks would help in any way, but with a coat of paint and words of encouragement, they can. PSU students can join the campus ministry at Frost Commons between 10:00AM – 12:00PM on Saturday, April 24th to paint care rocks for the PSU community.

Kathy Tardif, the catholic campus minister, was inspired by the “Kindness Rocks Project” that St. John’s Hospital in Nashua participated in. Flat and relatively large rocks were painted “in bright colors with messages of support.” They were subsequently scattered around the hospital and even placed under the snow to be found as it melted. The purpose of this act and the heart of the Kindness Rocks Project is encompassed in their motto which states that “one message at just the right moment can change someone’s entire day, outlook, and life.” Tardif was especially inspired by the motto and wanted to promote this sentiment on campus, explaining that the campus ministry is “not doing this for ourselves, we’re doing it for everybody else.”

…by placing the rocks in various places on campus, people who really need to hear these messages will be able to take notice of these rocks in a similar manner.

The outreach of painted rocks extends beyond the campus as well. While hiking, Tardif has “started noticing rocks that people are placing on trails to leave messages.”  She hopes that, by placing the rocks in various places on campus, people who really need to hear these messages will be able to take notice of these rocks in a similar manner. With all the stress faced by students lately, being able to stumble upon this hidden act of kindness will be especially beneficial at a time such as this.

The campus ministry and its groups, located in the Reflection & Spiritual Care Center on campus, has had to adapt in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In years past, the campus ministry students could meet on Tuesday nights to take part in a variety of activities such as “discussions on a topic, listening to guest speakers, bible study, game night, bowling, mini-golfing, hiking, movie nights.” They would also do service activities, with one of the biggest being Thanksgiving baskets in the fall. While the pandemic has forced the group to primarily go virtual, it has not changed its spirit of giving towards the community. The ministry was still able to get together in the fall while maintaining “widely spaced out” distance in order to “mail gift cards to people who would normally request a basket of us.”

If nothing else, the pandemic has taught us the overwhelming need for support in times of isolation. Tardif shares how religious and spiritual groups can provide this not only for the community, but for its members as well. “You’re with people of similar mind and a group that cares about self-reflection and purpose and meaning in life. They’re not losing sight of those important values. Especially since any religion is about community, not just people doing their own thing. It’s about people coming together for worship, for building each other up, and for supporting each other.” While times are difficult, there is an eventual light at the end with people around us to lift us up. The care rocks are a good example of this notion, as they serve to comfort and support the campus community in a time when this may be needed the most.

Anyone interested in signing up to paint care rocks can do so by messaging Kathy Tardif at This must be done before the event as space is limited due to COVID restrictions.