In recent years, a number of university student movements have emerged which, while independent, are monitored by Catholic movements and organized into Catholic Student Groups (NEC: Núcleos de Estudantes Católicos) within the universities themselves. This phenomenon is most visible in the city of Lisbon, which in 5 years between 2011 and 2016 saw the increase of groups from 5 to 16. It was a way that Catholic university students themselves found to keep alive their Christian identity in academic space. From this they promote various actions, formal or informal, such as prayer times, Eucharistic celebrations, tertulias, social intervention actions, pilgrimages, among others.
These university movements come from an initiative that has involved hundreds of university students: the Missão País. This action comes from the initiative of the Apostolic movement of Schoenstatt and proposes to university students, at national level, missionary actions within the country. They began in 2003 with only 1 mission consisting of 20 young university missionaries, and in 2015 there are already 1,800 missionaries organized in 35 missions carried out at the national level. Since 2003, 154 missions have been carried out. These actions are, above all, the formation of Christian identity. Volunteer action is one of its aspects, but these missions go far beyond volunteering, they appear as an opportunity to educate young university students, future leaders of society, to Christian principles and their intervention in society.
National Pastoral Service of Higher Education | CE Portugal