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The Huddle at Saint A's

Published on June 19, 2023

This article appears in the Spring 2023 issue of the FCA Donor Publication. The FCA publication is a gift from our FCA staff to all donors giving $50 or more annually. For more information about giving, visit here.

Meet the trio who helped establish the FCA Huddle at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire: Football player Ryan Raybuck, field hockey player Joanna Archambault, and Father Basil.

Ryan and Joanna, how did you wind up at Saint A's?
Ryan: St. A's found me, I was living in Connecticut and attended one of their football camps in high school, and it put me on their radar. When I was going on official visits, I learned the head coach has a very strong faith, which is something I didn't have in high school. To combine faith and football checked a huge box on my list.

Joanna: I picked St. A's for its academics. I'm a nursing major and I'm from Massachusetts, and Saint A's was my favorite school by far. I played field hockey in high school, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to play in college. But after my season ended my senior year, I decided to try. I emailed the coach and then she saw me play in a winter tournament. She invited me to a spring tryout, and afterwards, she offered me a spot on the team.

ryan - pixlrHow did FCA get to your school?
Ryan: Freshman year, I came looking for a biblical community, but I didn't find one. I had a vision of starting something for students. Then, COVID-19 happened and we were all sent home. But the Lord used quarantine to stir the conviction in my heart and guide me toward introspection about my personal relationship with Him. I needed this before stepping into a bigger role. Once we returned to school, I began praying for people to join a Bible study I was building. Joanna was one of the first. We met outside, and we went through the book of John every Sunday at 2 p.m. No one had been part of a Bible study before. Going into my junior year, a friend referred me to FCA. The Area Representative, Mike Vining, suggested I find a co-leader to join me. I instantly thought of Joanna because of her capacity to lead.

Joanna, what made you say yes?
Joanna: Most of my time was being taken up by athletics or academics, but faith has always been central in my life. I also hadn’t found areas to practice my faith or discuss it with my peers. When Ryan started the Bible study, I jumped on that. I loved it. I was very honored when he asked me to lead with him.

Father Basil, how did you get involved?
I'm also still in school training to be priest. Serving as a monk on campus is my “field ed.” Campus ministry is a good office because you get a lot of student engagement. I wanted"If you want to engage with students, you must engage with them where they're at."
-Father Basil
to engage athletes because I played sports in high school, and I have a great love for sports. I had heard of the students’ Bible study, and I emailed Joanna about making it official. I became the advisor. It’s still student-led.

How do you interface with FCA and its resources?
Ryan: We’re in communication with Mike at least once a month. He checks in and asks how things are doing, if we need anything. We also meet in person on occasion where he checks in with us, not just about FCA, but with us as people—like how our lives are going, what's going on, which is really cool.

Joanna: As we get more of an influx of student-athletes, we ask him for more Bibles and he sends them to us, which is really kind.

How has this group impacted your faith?
Ryan: It’s shown me the power of prayer, and that prayer works.

Joanna - pixlrJoanna: I've never been a part of something like this before. I've done church camps and gone to church services on Sundays, but being able to interact with Scripture in this way is very fruitful. As Christians, we are called to interact with Scripture on a daily basis. Even amongst a busy schedule, having time to read the Bible with others has been very good for my personal faith journey. I've created really wonderful friendships.

Father Basil, what is the impact of having FCA on campus?
If you want to engage with students, you must engage with them where they're at. To get them into a space with others who play a sport, whether it's their sport or not, there's a common language and a common experience. We’ve seen people become more comfortable and more willing to open up. This has helped people look at campus ministry as more than just for the super religious kids. It expands that connection with athletics and spirituality, which I think is very important because there's a lot of crossover people don't necessarily realize: how a sport prepares you for the spiritual life. Paul's letter to the Corinthians talks about running the race not for a perishable crown, but for an imperishable one. This has created the opportunity for us to bless sports teams and reinvigorated the chaplaincy. It’s allowing us to have a presence with the students.

What is a promise of God that’s carried you through college, and you will take into the next season of your lives?
Ryan: I doubted that I was equipped with not only the knowledge, but all facets of leading—being a face of Christ people looked to each week. But the Lord took over and blessed and blossomed me stepping out to do this. I’ve learned the Lord works through people who think they're just "practice squad guys." Everyone is called to advance God's Kingdom. And so the reality that it’s happening here at St A's is really encouraging.

Joanna: His promise that He will take care of us and that His will be done. He has a plan for us, and that we just have to trust in Him. As Ryan and I face our last semester and think about next steps and new leaders to take our place, we’re leaning into His promise of trusting that He'll provide someone to continue the legacy of FCA we've created.


Photos courtesy of Saint Anselm College and Gil Talbot