By Alex Nemec, marketing communication specialist
The beginning of a new semester is an exciting time — but it can also be an anxious and stressful experience for some.
In addition to the many resident assistants, each residence hall has a hall minister to provide pastoral care to and be a spiritual presence for all residents and building staff.
In collaboration with the staff, hall ministers are charged with helping to form a residential community that expresses the university’s Catholic, Jesuit mission, while accompanying individuals dealing with stress, illness, loss, loneliness, relationships, spiritual and emotional health, and more.
In this Q&A, Peter Battaglia, hall minister for Mashuda Hall, talks about what he likes the most about Marquette University and Milwaukee.
What was your undergraduate degree in? Why did you pursue that discipline?
My undergraduate degree was in religion, with a specialization in biblical studies. I chose to pursue biblical studies with the goal of becoming a pastor like my dad. While in college, I realized that I really liked the academic side of studying religion— learning the ancient history, culture, and languages in which Judaism and Christianity originated. After college, I chose to pursue a seminary degree in New Testament studies and then a Ph.D. in Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity at Marquette with the goal of becoming a professor of religion at a university. I never lost the desire to minister to people in both church and academic contexts. In a lot of ways, I’m currently living out my dream job as a hall minister and as a professor-in-training at Marquette!
Why did you want to be a hall minister?
In college, I was a resident assistant for two years and I really learned a lot from that experience. One of the things I told myself was that if I ever had the opportunity, I really wanted to invest in RAs on a college campus. I always try to care for students holistically as an instructor and once I realized that I was pretty much doing hall ministry already, I decided to do it more intentionally by applying for the position. I love doing things for all students I engage with, but I always have a soft spot for encouraging RAs — they are so important to the success of the university’s mission and vision.
What makes Marquette special to you?
Marquette has been a very welcoming place for me in so many ways. I’ve learned a lot about the Catholic, Jesuit tradition — having almost no knowledge about it when I came here — and have enjoyed getting to know faculty, staff and students at several levels. I also love Milwaukee, and Marquette’s location has really made me appreciate the Midwest. It’s definitely the best Midwest city in my opinion — which I know is a hot take.
What is your favorite Marquette memory?
My favorite memory consists of a cluster of experiences that center on eating good food with students I have met over the years here. As my wife and I always say jokingly, we are suckers for good food and good people! Some of my favorite times are having students over while my wife and I cook for them, and we talk about what’s going on in our lives. What’s better than that?
What is one thing you’re looking forward to this academic year?
I’m looking forward to all the new people I get to meet, especially students! The beginning of each year on a college campus holds so much potential, excitement, and opportunity for growth and development as a person. I am looking forward to connecting with new people, maintaining old friendships and encouraging students to discover who they should become as human beings. I’m also looking forward to the end of my Ph.D. as I aim to finish in May 2023.
Favorite book or movie: The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy
Favorite location on campus: Mashuda Hall
Favorite hobby: Anything outdoors, especially camping
Favorite restaurant in Milwaukee: C-viche
Favorite dessert: Tres leches cake at C-viche