By Debbie Shannon, Director of Ministries & Development
I hear all the time, “St. Peter’s is so lucky to have the location it does right at the edge of the Baylor campus!” They are right, it is a prime location for being visible and accessible to the student population we serve. Some may say ‘luck’ has nothing to do with it, it’s a blessing from God. I would say that they are both correct, at least if the first is speaking of the ‘luck of the Irish’.
Thanks to the diligent and persistent efforts of Msgr. Mark Deering, assisted by Waco attorney John Fulbright, the diocese did indeed acquire a treasure at 9th and Baylor Streets. We will always be grateful for their foresight, and expect to benefit from the location St. Peter’s Catholic Student Center sits on for generations to come.
On his blog, a little over a year ago, Bishop John McCarthy, former Bishop of Austin, sung the praises of the efforts of this brother priest. “Monsignor Deering made breaking through that prejudice and hostility (present in Waco at his arrival in the 1950’s) the goal of his life and he succeeded extraordinarily well.” Bishop John McCarthy – A Bishop’s Blog
Waco was a much different town in the days that Msgr. Deering served as pastor of St. Louis Church in Waco. It was very hard to be Catholic. The very idea of a visible and welcomed Catholic student population and ministry at Baylor University was inconceivable. Msgr. Deering had a ‘gift’ of opening doors and bridging chasms between the Catholics, Jews and Protestant Christians in town during those years.
Today, the beloved Irish priest, Msgr. Deering dropped by for our noon Mass and lunch on February 27, 2013. Melissa Jacobs, Center Coordinator, had prepared some delicious Irish potato soup in his honor. There were even shamrock cookies available for dessert! God bless you, Msgr. Deering, Baylor Catholics (indeed, all Waco Catholics) are very grateful to you!