Written by Debbie Shannon, Center Coordinator at St. Peters, also known as “Mama Debs”
What is it about breaking bread together? Carrying on a conversation with someone you’ve just met can be awkward and forced, but sit down at table with a meal between you and the comfort level changes. Want to encourage a relationship with someone? You ask them to dinner. Jesus certainly knew that. So many of the profound lessons he taught happened ‘at table.’ Even the Sermon on the Mount would not proceed until the people were fed.
We have lots of meals together at St. Peter’s. While we are much more than a “Mass and Pizza” ministry, we do love to eat together! Every Wednesday our 12:15 Mass is followed by a lunch fellowship. The food is usually very good, at least the students say so, but it’s the conversations around the tables that are the real treat.
Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down next to Father Anthony and a student I had never met. After I introduced myself, I asked her where she was from and the conversation moved forward. Dani Andreotti-Phillips is a Navajo Indian who has come to Baylor with the goal to go into medicine. She shared the most wonderful story of how she decided – at age 8 – that she wanted to be a doctor. Growing up on the reservation, Dani knows first hand the challenges our native Americans face daily and she wants badly to make a difference. As a young girl, she would accompany her mother who is a physical therapist as she lovingly cared for her patients. Back then, her mom was allowed to bring her children with her on her rounds at the hospital/clinic and Dani learned about service to others from the way her mom treated her patients. Her mother would introduce her as “her assistant” and she would let her put on a white coat. Dani said she loved imagining that she was a doctor. Her mother’s example of service instilled in Dani a desire to help others and carry on that same mission her mom had dedicated her life to.
I was so impressed with Dani and her story. I left lunch that day inspired and convicted that what we do in serving others in our lives not only helps them, but can inspire others to serve as well. I would love to meet Dani’s mother someday, but somehow I suspect that I already know her by knowing Dani. I guess that is how it works with our call to discipleship. If we emulate Jesus, others come to know Him by knowing us. I love that!
I can’t wait to see who I will meet this Wednesday…
If you get the chance, I encourage you to join us on Wednesdays for Mass at 12:15 and lunch fellowship. Sit down next to someone you don’t know. You just might get inspired.