By Fr. Kevin Scalf, C.PP.S.

(Fr. Kevin Scalf is on the faculty of Calumet College of St. Joseph, which is sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.)

As you might imagine, things looked differently when students returned to the only Catholic college in Northwest Indiana.

Hand sanitizer stations are prevalent. Classroom tables are fewer and separated. Class sizes are smaller. Learning now occurs face-to-face and remotely. Facial coverings are required within the building. Religious statues are exempt from face coverings, for the moment.

This is all very important as traditional undergraduate enrollment numbers continue to increase at Calumet College in spite of national trends to the contrary.

What’s more, for the first time in the college’s 69 year history, students now have the option of living with their peers in a newly-constructed residential complex less than one mile from the main campus.

This chic complex is named, “The Illiana,” a nexus of the names, Indiana and Illinois. It was named after a hotel with the same name at the same location.

The Illiana is owned and operated by Holladay Properties, a commercial real estate development and management firm based in South Bend, Ind.

Calumet College has a master lease for 12 units. It can accommodate 48 students, four to a unit. As of the publishing of this article, all units are almost full. The college also has two graduate students who will serve as on-site residence life staff.

While the college does not own The Illiana, it does coordinate the student’s experience there, including communications, finances, furnishings and student life.

Students and their parents have been inquiring about residential living at Calumet College for years but never enough to warrant a strategic move of this kind. This commitment is hopeful as we look toward the future.

Some have inquired, what happens if a resident student tests positive for COVID? The college has created protocols to address hygiene, isolation and contact tracing should this occur.

Plagues aside, there’s fun to be had at The Illiana! Our student life professionals are planning some programs and events that will interest students and build relationships. Students will enjoy access to all the amenities of the area, including, the beach, downtown Whiting and The Pavilion in Hammond. It is 20 miles from the heart of Chicago. And St. John the Baptist Parish, where Missionaries minister, is across the street. That last part seals the deal!

I can clearly see The Illiana from my rectory room at St. John the Baptist. I’ve now added our student-residents to my daily prayer list. For a whole variety of reasons!