Campus ministry program celebrates 100 years
By Catholic Spirit Staff
Our Lady of Wisdom University Parish in San Marcos is celebrating 100 years of Catholic campus ministry at Texas State University this year. The Newman Club was founded in 1915 as one of the first religious organizations on campus. In 1960, a separate building became the first Catholic Student Center (CSC) and in 1970, the CSC moved to a larger building.
Father Will Straten, pastor, thanked all those who have had a part in campus ministry at the university.
“It is certain that we would not be here today celebrating 100 years of campus ministry if it had not been for the faith and evangelization of the students, priests, staff, faculty and lay faithful that have come before us,” Father Straten said.
A large gift from H.L. Grant of Houston in 1993 was used to build the CSC’s current facility, almost triple the size of the previous one. The H.L. Grant Catholic Student Center, including the chapel, was dedicated to St. Jude. On Feb. 16, 2013, the H.L. Grant Catholic Student Center and St. Jude Chapel was officially dedicated as a parish by Bishop Joe Vásquez, under the patronage of Our Lady of Wisdom.
Over the last 100 years, and with the help of the permanent community of San Marcos, it is estimated that more than 100,000 students have participated in this ministry. This impact has led to the growth of various student-led organizations.
“Bobcat Catholics are not only being formed into disciples of Christ, but they are forming others who will in turn continue to transform the world,” Father Straten said.
Through retreats such as Bobcat Awakening, founded in 1991, and LIGHT, in 2010, students are encouraging others to place Christ at the center of their lives. Lambda Omega Alpha and Mu Epsilon Theta, a Catholic fraternity and sorority, bring young men and women seeking a greater faith community.
In 2009, students established Bobcats for Life, a pro-life group on campus that encourages others to ask the hard questions and seek truth about the dignity of life.
In the last five years, Saint Paul’s Outreach (SPO) and the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) have sent missionaries to Texas State’s campus to establish programs that encourage students to dive deeper into their faith, to learn what it means to have a meaningful relationship with Christ and to build relationships with their neighbors that are centered on Christ. More than 50 student leaders within both organizations are leading small groups and Bible studies, and they are mentoring their peers through one-on-one formation.
“They are calling others to lives of holiness and virtue,” Father Straten said.
In the last five years, four young men have entered seminary to discern the priesthood, one young woman has entered religious life, eight students have become full-time missionaries with SPO and 14 students have become full-time missionaries with FOCUS while many others have answered the call to married life.
Ian Robbins, an alumni and seminarian, said his experience at Our Lady of Wisdom was life changing.
“I was able to discover my vocation and without the friendships I built, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
Other centennial activities include a barbecue thanking the San Marcos community on June 14 and the 100 Year Anniversary Gala on Nov. 7. To continue the centennial celebration, the Catholic Student Center wants to hear from alumni.
Anyone who has a favorite memory or photograph from their days at the center is asked to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Our Lady of Wisdom University Parish, visit www.txstatecatholic.org or call (512) 392-5925.