By Debbie Shannon, Director of Ministries & Development – Debbie served as Secretary/Center Coordinator at St. Peter’s since October, 2010. She recently accepted the new position of Director of Ministries and Development.
Every year, St. Peter’s celebrates the beginning of a new academic year at Baylor University with their annual Block Party. It is lots of fun, usually oppressively hot, but always filled with of a sense of anticipation. It is a fresh start on a new year. This year was especially full of promise and, unique to last year’s Block Party, the weather was actually very pleasant for August in Waco and everyone delighted in it.
Ministries were spread before the new freshmen who come to “check things out” at tables manned by student leaders ready to sign them up for involvement in their new church home. The Dr. Pepper trailer was open with student leaders handing out ice cold drinks to beat the heat, and Deacon Frank and Ms. Janet serve up sno-cones. Music was playing by the big barbecue pit where the Knights of Columbus proudly served up hamburgers, hot dogs and ‘manly’ conversation. Catholic faculty and staff wandered through the crowd introducing themselves to their students, occasionally recognizing a few faces from a seat in their classroom the day before. It was such a great way for our Catholic community to connect as we embrace the promise of what is to come this year.
St. Peter’s is growing. The turnout was exciting and the ministries tables stayed busy answering questions. The pre-registration for our New Student Retreat hit a record number for only 3 days into the school year. The Catholic freshmen appear ready to dive in and get involved in their new church home. No one was twisting arms, only spreading them in welcome as volunteers came looking for how to sign up. I visited with enough new students to get a clear sense that they arrived at Baylor already well aware of the reputation of St. Peter’s campus ministry and excited to become a part of it.
A special treat this year was the presence of four new FOCUS missionaries (see preceding blog post by Kelsie Schoch). They were busy engaging both new and returning students in conversation and explaining what their role at St. Peter’s is all about.
And unique to this year’s festivities was the presence of TWO of St. Peter’s priests, outgoing Fr. Anthony Odiong, who is departing the United States to pursue his education at the Pontifical College in Rome next month and Fr. Daniel Liu, our new director, who arrived July 1. Fr. Daniel has quickly picked up where Fr. Anthony left off and is ready to surge ahead with our growing Catholic campus ministry at the world’s largest traditionally Baptist university. There were plenty of hugs being shared with Fr. Anthony who arrived with his traditional party hat, while Fr. Daniel was kept busy getting to know his students new and old.
As the resident “house mom”, my mother’s intuition told me both of them were feeling the same pride and gratitude that I was feeling. This year’s Block Party was an event that left me full of such hope and confidence in what God is accomplishing in our ministry today and for the future of the Church in these young people who will be her leaders in a not so distant tomorrow. Yes, it is definitely going to be a GREAT year – and Block Party once again kicked it off in great style!