By Debbie Shannon
Thursday, April 18, 2012, the day before Baylor University celebrated its tradition of Dia del Oso (Day of the Bear), St. Peter’s Catholic Student Center was celebrating early with a new tradition of its own. The narthex at St. Peter’s had been transformed into a spring dinner party atmosphere with guys and gals decked out in their best and excited on several levels. Dinner was a scrumptious Italian buffet by Baris of Waco and passing by the assorted cheesecake table without starting with dessert took a mighty strength of will. Conversations were lively and happy, despite the approaching clouds of Finals in the only slightly extended forecast. The promise of a “Dance Party” after the awards was just too much to resist and so the turnout was strong and toes were already tapping to the “lounge music” during the dinner hour.
We were gathered for St. Peter’s first annual Awards Dinner. No one was quite sure what the staff had planned other than a few leaks as to scholarship announcements and senior awards. It turned out that most everyone in attendance had an opportunity to stand and be recognized. Catholic campus ministry at Baylor University in general deserves an award of its own. We are in a unique and wonderful environment at Baylor. A first-class Christian University with a strong Baptist tradition presents a very special challenge and invitation to young Catholics who attend Baylor as students. Certain to be quizzed regularly about their Catholic faith, Baylor Catholics must be able to articulate what they believe and what their Church teaches. We gathered at St. Peter’s, not just to award a few individuals for a job well done, but to celebrate the many who witness so effectively to a faith that is alive and well in our young people today. If the Catholic students at St. Peter’s are any indication, the future of the Catholic Church is in very good hands.
The program after dinner began with the M.C. (me), self-proclaimed “Mama of Ceremonies”, acknowledging all organization members, liturgical ministers and retreat teams present. There was a lot of “yo-yo-ing” as students stood over and over again showing the extent of involvement of those present. Members of all class years were represented well and the freshmen in attendance, as well as those newly baptized and confirmed in the past couple of weeks received especially strong applause.
After the general recognitions and expressions of gratitude for service during the year, the microphone was turned over to a very proud director, Fr. Anthony. As usual, you could hear a pin drop as every student listened intently to words of encouragement, commendation and challenge for the future from the shepherd they love and respect so dearly. It was obvious from Father’s words and emotional demeanor that the feeling is mutual.
Thanks to generous donors to the Scholarship Fund at St. Peter’s, scholarships were then awarded to two undergraduates who will be pursuing advanced fields of study in the fall after graduating next month. St. Peter’s was happy to award a cash scholarship to Celina Basaldu and Martin Mebane who showed active participation in the sacraments, as well as stewardship through service in various ministries and organizations in the church. Applicants also submitted an essay on how their Catholic faith has impacted their college experience. (Watch for some of the essays on future blog posts!)
Melissa Tran had the pleasure of presenting a “check” for $2,179.00 to Fr. Anthony from the Class of 2012. This gift represents the current total to date for their efforts to raise money to purchase a statue of St. Peter for the front lawn of the center. Once the goal amount of $3000.00 is reached the statue will be purchased and erected in honor of fellow classmate Loren “Lo” Oglesby who passed away in January, 2010.
Two outstanding seniors were then recognized for their exceptional service to St. Peter’s in a wide variety of areas over their four years here. As Melissa Tran and Michael Horsley were called forward and stood surprised and characteristically humble before their peers, Deacon Frank Jasek read a beautiful illustration of what a servant leader is. Melissa and Michael were presented with polished pewter crosses and certificates. Recognizing they stand on the shoulders of many who came before them in Catholic campus ministry at Baylor, first to receive this new award, but certainly not the first or last to serve St. Peter’s with all their heart.
Lightening the mood significantly were the awards from the Pastoral Council presented by council president Kody Jackson and social chair Joe Guillory. Many laughs and much applause accompanied awards such as, “Most Likely to Haunt St. Peter’s”, “Biggest Procrastinator”, “Best Smile” and “Mr. Fashionisto and Miss Fashionista.” Everyone was in agreement and shouted for a sample when Fr. Anthony was awarded “Best Laugh”. I was very relieved to find out that, what rumor had it was to be “Most Likely to Replace Ms. Debbie” had been renamed “Ms. Debbie in the Making”, reassuring me that my position as Center Coordinator was still safe for now. (Learning the recipient was the lovely – and very organized – Chelsea Kramer, I relaxed and just felt very complimented.)
Following some great door prizes for use during Finals and then into Summer Break, the tables were cleared, the music turned to dance mode and the real party began…can’t wait til next year and the second Annual Awards Dinner. Don’t you just love traditions?