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Hello, my name is Jennifer Zambie! I’m from Austin, Texas and I’m a Senior studying Speech Pathology. When I was a freshman, I always heard upper classmen call St. Peter’s their second home, but I never understood what they meant until after I attended Bear Awakening.

I was raised Catholic, so when Baylor’s Welcome Week Church Fair came along, I headed straight to St. Peter’s booth because many high school friends had told me how great Father Daniel was (it’s true). I started attending St. Peter’s and joined a Bible study. But, when the semester got busy, I became one of those people who showed up right on time for Mass and left as soon as the final song ended. My faith and prayer life became a Sunday-only thing. The bare bones faith wasn’t fulfilling me, so I started looking for something more. My Bible Study leader kept talking about Bear Awakening and encouraged me to attend, so I did.

I went on Bear Awakening the Spring semester of my freshman year, and it 100% changed the way I practiced my faith. Awakening showed me two very important aspects of my faith I was missing: COMMUNITY AND COMMITMENT.

First, community: Because of that powerful weekend, I met the community of St. Peter’s who welcomed me with open arms. I met people from every class, major and hometown that were praying for me and who put aside countless hours to plan for this retreat. I saw how much joy and energy these staffers had in the middle of a crazy semester, and for the first time I felt that I was missing something from my faith. I wanted that unfailing trust in God and the life giving friendship that were apparent in the community. They encouraged me to grow in my prayer life, attend Mass, go to Confession, join other ministries and share the Gospel with not only people on campus, but also the world. This retreat and the friendships that have followed taught me how to live out my faith daily.

Second, commitment: During that weekend and the weeks after I realized that the closeness to God I felt on the retreat was not just a one weekend thing but something that can be lived out every day through the Sacraments, prayer, and friendships. Bear Awakening inspired me to make a deeper commitment to my faith and helped me figure out how exactly to fulfill that commitment. It helped me grow from a Sunday only Catholic to an everyday Catholic. My college journey and, more importantly, my faith journey would look exponentially different if not for this incredible retreat.

Now, fast forward to my Senior Year (what?!?). I am the coordinator for Bear Awakening 15 and I’m writing to persuade you to sign up for the retreat!

“But wait Jennifer,” you might be saying. “You told us how cool Awakening was, but you didn’t tell us WHAT it was!”

You’re right. Whoops! Okay… what is Awakening? Awakening is a weekend-long retreat put on by college students for college students. The retreat is based on Catholic teachings, but it is open to anyone who wants to grow closer to God to “re-awaken” the fire of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t matter where you are in your faith journey, you are welcome here and we want you here. Another cool thing: Awakening retreats happen all across the country at various college campuses, and once you have attended an Awakening retreat; you can staff any other Awakening anywhere! As far as our retreat goes, this year Bear Awakening is in the Fall from October 7th to the 9th (don’t worry there is no football game that weekend). It costs $30 to go, but don’t let money be a hindrance, we have scholarships available! Applications are open, and you can sign up here or pick up an app at St. Peter’s. What makes the Awakening experience so special? The combination of the sacraments, getting to know others and the community, learning more about the faith, playing games, eating food, friendly competition, and other activities are just some ways that make Awakening an unforgettable weekend. But don’t just take my word for it, sign up for Bear Awakening and see for yourself what the Holy Spirit can do!

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If you have any questions at all please feel free to email me at jennifer_zambie@baylor.edu. I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for reading and God Bless!

 

 

Greetings all! My name is Sam Esparza, and if you didn’t get the chance to talk to one of the Knights last night, I’m going to tell you about what goes on in our chapter in preparation for Go Roman Week next week. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Knights of Columbus? Isn’t that the organization of old guys that dress up sometimes and have all those steak dinners?” While that seems to be the stereotype that has come about nowadays, that isn’t exactly the case. Yes, the commonality of parish councils seems to be that seniors make up the majority of them, but the Knights of Columbus is open to any young man 18 years of age or over. In fact, college councils like us were established to get young men more involved and to really understand this organization that we become part of for the rest of our lives.

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Now this still leaves the question: What is the KoC? There are a lot of titles and accolades attributed to it: it is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, it has been called the strong right arm of the church, but the organization really started as an insurance company (believe it or not). Father Michael J. McGivney, our founder, established the Knights as a way to insure the families of Catholic men. This mission was devised as a way to take care of men and their families during a time when Catholic men were at risk of dying in their dangerous workplaces. What he did not foresee, however, was the rise of brotherhood among the men that joined. Now, over 100 years later, that brotherhood is close to 2 million strong.

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Here at our Baylor Council, we have high hopes for this upcoming year.

Of course, Go Roman Week (Aug. 30-Sept. 2) isn’t the only time we focus on these important aspects of being Catholic men, we look forward to all the activities we can participate in this upcoming year. We plan to participate in more Pro-life activities like the Annual March for Life, weekly pro-life prayers, and partnering with Pro-life Waco for any other opportunities we may encounter. We look forward to our Social Events as well, such as the yearly trip we take to the Texas Stars Hockey Game, or our annual basketball cookout known comically known as Sausagefest. We look forward to everything we have in store this year, and to meeting all of the young men interested in joining our council.

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Sam Esparza will be the Grand Knight for the upcoming school year. He is a senior, Physics major, from El Paso, TX.

 

The Catholic Student Association of Baylor University is an apostolate unique unto both Baylor and St. Peter’s. It is the only chartered Catholic organization on Baylor’s campus, which allows it to work hand-in-hand with St. Peter’s and the greater Baylor community.

The mission of CSA is to provide service to the Catholic community and Baylor University by reaching out to all Catholic students, as well as those of other faith traditions at the university to promote moral, intellectual, social, and spiritual growth. We do this through activities which adhere to our three pillars: spiritual, social, and service.

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Our spiritual pillar is the most fundamental. Through it, we find the basis for all of our activities. CSA gets the unique opportunity to be a large witness of Catholic spirituality on a traditionally Baptist campus. This past year, we instituted Catholic Prayer Nights, nights in which we essentially try to bring as much of St. Peter’s to campus as we can. Normally Fr. Daniel comes and hears confessions in one the chapels on campus while the rest of the community is lead in praise and worship music, quiet prayer time, or some other organized prayer.

Social events are, of course, always also another big hit. We have two major socials—one per semester—Christmas Coffee and Dia Del Catholic along with various other social activities throughout the school year. We think that it is important for our members to grow in fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ, not just in CSA, but also in the greater Catholic community.

We are not an explicitly service-based organization, like many of the other on-campus organizations. We do try to organize various service activities throughout the year including, Move2BU, Steppin’ Out, St. Peter’s clean-up, and feeding the homeless. This past year, in honor of the Year of Mercy, we began working our way through the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Amongst all the denominations represented on campus, the relationship between Baylor and its Catholic students has probably been the one to note most. Next to Baptists, Catholics are the most largely represented denomination amongst all the student, faculty, and staff populations.

The Catholic Student Association is a way to show people that you’re green, gold, and Catholic.

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Greetings fellow Knights, friends of St. Peter’s, and blog readers. It is your very favorite, friendly neighborhood Platypus Bear here to tell you all about the KoC college conference that Derek and I had the opportunity to attend this year.

I would like to start with a bit of the History of the Knights as many of you, like myself when I first joined may be a little hazy on what the Knights as an organization do. So way back in the late 1800s there was a man today known as Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney. Father McGivney’s story is nothing short of remarkable, but due to an unfortunate word limit I’ll give you all the gist: there were two very notable events in Father McGivney’s life that led him to found the Knights. the first being while he was in Seminary, his father passed away. With no Breadwinner for the family to sustain itself, Michael was forced to leave seminary to help his family until receiving a scholarship and being stationed at St. Mary’s in New Haven, Connecticut. Second, was the loss of the breadwinner of a family friend of his which led to the government threatening to take away the children of the mother who could not provide, Father Michael stepped in, became legal guardian of one of her boys, then the night of the court meeting called to order the first meeting of the Knights of Columbus. Father McGivney was tired of the struggles young Catholic families were put through when the father, unfortunately passed away so came the Knights, dedicated to providing for the widow and the orphan of their fellow Catholic brothers, Father McGivney founded this Fraternal organization, primarily as an insurance for these families, but also so that men could be sure, they could rely on their fellow Brother Knights to provide for their families should anything ever happen to them.

 

Fast forward a century and some change, and you have the Knights as we know them today. Rated one of the top five most ethical companies, with billions of dollars in support for the families of it’s many insurance members; it is no wonder the Knights are regarded as “The Strong Right Arm of the Church”. Derek and I got to see this first hand at the conference, and all the good work that each college has done. with over 200 College Councils Worldwide the growing involvement of young men is inspiring. I had the opportunity to talk to a few knight from different councils, hearing their struggles, especially those on secular campuses that are avidly against anything to do with the Faith, was something that merited my respect. Among these struggles there are Councils out there that still go out of their way to continue Father McGivney’s vision of defending the widow and orphan, Knights who volunteer at Retirement homes, take part in Pro-life discussions, help lead youth groups, volunteer at women’s shelters, and so many other things that make me proud to be a part of this order. Us as Baylor Council received a reward for our participation in the Special Olympics, we received the Youth Service Activity Reward for dedicating over 250 man hours to the Special Olympics.

Being recognized reminded me of the good we do as Knights and the good the Knights do worldwide. For the young gentlemen reading this that are not members of the order, I encourage you, seek out the next initiation, join our brotherhood and be a part of an organization that has done so much good for the Church. My fellow brother knights, I implore you attend this Conference the next chance you get, it was a serious eye opener to all the things that we do as Knights that you probably don’t even know of ! I am proud to be a Knight and proud to be a member of Baylor’s council 13577 VIVAT JESU!

 

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About the Author:

Sam Esparza is a real life Platypus Bear, his hobbies include Jeopardy, smoking a pipe, making wild Platypus Bear Calls in the open, and making deep meaningful memories with his friends.

Prayer: Do You Take It for Granted?

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“I’ll be praying for you!” or “Oh, I’ve been praying for you!” How often do we hear something like this from our friends and family and usually just brush it off? Have you ever really taken the time to ponder the magnitude of those phrases?

Prayer is simple. It’s a conversation with God as an act of love that unites us with Him, but it’s definitely not one of the easiest things a person can do! I mean how easy is it to actually make time in a super busy schedule and talk to someone who isn’t physically there? And on top of that, talk to Him about another person? I don’t know about you but I personally still struggle with the desire to pray for others because I know I can still be pretty selfish at times.

Prayer requires dedication. It requires persistence and endurance especially in continuing a conversation with someone who doesn’t talk back in the same way we’re used to as humans. He speaks in the silence of our hearts but we all know silence can be excruciating too if we’re not comfortable with it (and most of us aren’t comfortable with it yet.)

It takes time and humility in order to put others needs before your own and urgently lift them up to God before praying for yourself. It isn’t to be taken lightly. Our planner and our thoughts in the chapel can still get in the way of our prayer for others and it can get frustrating (which also leads us to want to give up and just ignore praying altogether, but that’s a blog post for another day.)

Every time someone prepares themselves to pray for you they are making a long-distance call that is going to cost a bit but is so worth it because they’re having a beautiful conversation with someone they love about a person they love (you)! It’s like telling your grandma about your siblings! Don’t take it for granted! It’s actually one of the best gifts someone can give you because it means they care for you enough to fit you into their life and ask God to send His graces to you. (I’m even starting to ask for prayers more than for other things, like money or presents, because they’re actually better and I feel more loved through them!)

Oh and if you’ve been on the other side of that phrase, saying that you’re praying for others but actually haven’t been, then I challenge you to reflect on the power of the words you’re actually saying and work on strengthening your prayers for them. Don’t just say it and never do it, it’s not nice to say you’ll give a gift and then never do. Give them the fullness of that gift and love them!

Prayer is awesome guys!

His Love,
Ana

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I vividly remember a distinct turning point in my life. After moving nearly every 3-4 years and having to constantly rebuild myself after being torn apart from friendships, I decided I was going to do whatever it took to be popular in high school. I knew that in order to do that I had to remove God from my life. That was a risk I was willing to take.

From there, I got what I was hoping would happen. My friends thought I was hilarious when I was drunk and I became a part of all the inside jokes instead of sitting awkwardly at the lunch table trying to figure out what was so funny. For some reason; however, I still wasn’t happy. My relationships began to fall apart. My family couldn’t wait for me to graduate and leave home; my friendships were based on the current drama and gossip; my romantic relationships were focused on what happiness we could get from the other person. Essentially I was looking for someone to tell me that I was special and loved, but I turned away from the one person who desperately wanted to love and forgive me perfectly: Jesus Christ.

When I went to college, Jesus was waiting for me. The first person I met after saying good-bye to my mom was a woman named Mallory. She worked for a non-denominational church on campus. We became friends and she invited me to do a Bible study with her and some other women. I still remember the first time I was hit with the Gospel. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) After hearing that, I spent some time counting the costs of giving my life back to Jesus and rebuilding that relationship with Him. There was a lot I had to give up to embrace the cross. This was hard because I wanted to make myself worthy before coming back to Him, but that was impossible. I needed Christ to help me overcome the very struggles that were separating me from Him. In the end I decided to simply give Jesus a chance. Nothing I was doing was proving to be very satisfying, and here was Jesus, promising me abundant life. I texted Mallory, “Jessica has been dethroned.” For me that illustrated that I was giving God control of my life, asking Him to lead me.

Some things in my life changed quickly. The Holy Spirit instantly removed the thought that I had to drink to make friends and have people like me. What a grace! Other areas of conversion were a much longer process. As I mentioned, Mallory worked for a non-denominational church, and while I am so thankful that she introduced me to the person of Jesus Christ, I had also slipped away from the Catholic Church. That was a long, hard road Home, but that is a story for another blog-post. …stay tuned!

In the end, there was no way for me to keep the joy, life and love that I had received from Jesus to myself. I simply had to join His mission of sharing that very love with others, and that is the driving force of why I am serving as a full-time missionary here at Baylor.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
​​​​​​​-Jesus

Fulfillment in God vs. Fulfillment in humans

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On a scale of 1-10 where would you place your relationships with others? I guess that’s more of a rhetorical question since I can’t hear your answers past this computer screen! And it may also vary with each person in your life. Your family members may probably be closer to the 10 side, whereas your lab partner could be at a 1 or 2.

So, where is Jesus on that scale? Where would you place Him? And have you even thought, “Where would He place me? Have I let Him get to know me?” WHOA! Hadn’t thought of that side of the scale, huh? But it’s true. And well, aside from the fact that God DOES know you better than you know yourself, have you really let Him in to your heart?

Finding a balance on that scale can be tricky, especially when everyone else is so physically present and God, on the other hand, can be a little more difficult to see or hear. But there is nothing stopping you from making Him real, only you. I would say the first step to get Him higher on that scale is to want to want Him there. It may be tough to get rid of other relationships that you may be placing above Him but starting off by saying I want to have the desire to want Him in my life is a huge step! You are choosing to acknowledge Him instead of ignoring Him and His place.

After that, you may also have to realize that unfortunately, some of those other relationships won’t ever come close to the fulfillment that God will give. Think of it this way, there is nothing stopping you from going out to HEB, buying a tub of icing and eating all of it on the ride home. You’ll have automatic pleasure and joy at the immense deliciousness it gives you but what happens after you eat it? The pleasure is gone and all you’re left with is a huge stomach ache and a hate for yourself and all the calories you just consumed. It was easily accessible, provided rapid happiness but leaves you with nothing but shame.

Exercise is a little different and this is coming from someone who still has yet to acquire a love for physical activity! Exercise is harder to do. You have to drive somewhere, get dressed in appropriate attire, find your headphones and a right playlist, warm-up, and then to top it all off you have to shower afterwards! It’s so time consuming and kind of a pain to even want to do it! But once you go for a run or lift some weights, you feel amazing after. Who can say that after a workout they felt like they just wasted so much time and they’re body didn’t benefit from it? NO ONE! It’s a little harder to do and requires a little more effort but it’s definitely worth it.

Some relationships are icing but Jesus is always exercise. Growing closer to Him takes time, effort, and sometimes a little pain but it’s so satisfying when you have Him in your life. Sad to say, there are a lot of relationships out there for us who are higher on our scale but can leave us with that emptiness after a couple of minutes of joy.

Find your fulfillment in God first. Humans are finite and will never be able to compare to the infinite love God has for you. Plus once you do that, it’s funny how every other relationship will fall into the right place too. J God bless! Happy Baylor Homecoming!
-Credits to Catholic author and speaker, Matthew Kelly.

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What’s up everyone! I’m Adam Bremerkamp, one of the four FOCUS missionaries at Baylor. It has been great working with the students here the last couple months. I am excited to see what God has in store for this campus and how he will transform the lives of Baylor students. I wanted to take this opportunity to share a bit of my story.

My faith journey was relatively normal growing up, at least for someone born in the Midwest. I was raised Catholic. It gets interesting after I moved away to college to the University of Tulsa. I found myself very quickly getting distracted by many of the exciting tales of college life. My lifestyle almost immediately changed, but without me even paying attention to the drastic changes. I came to college with the intention of getting involved with the Catholic center on campus. I wanted to grow in my faith. But even to my surprise I told myself, “I’ll go to church next week, I just need to sleep in today.” As each week went by, it became normal to me to skip church on Sunday.

I joined a fraternity my first semester in college. I joined for good enough reasons. It sounded fun to hang out with a group of guys, to live with them. I slowly got caught up in the party scene. Unfortunately, what started as casually having a beer every once in a while, turned into excessive drinking by the end of the semester. I was always looking forward to the next party. But this fraternity which encouraged my drinking habits also ended up being the same thing that would change my life for the better. There were two sophomores when I was a freshman that were pursuing Christ whole-heartedly. They started talking to me about my faith. They invited me to a retreat over Christmas break. I was very resistant to go on the retreat, but somehow I ended up there.

Thankfully, this retreat allowed me to step away from the distractions long enough for me to realize the path I was heading down. After this retreat I promised myself that I would never live that double life again. I began pursuing my faith. With the help of David, one of the sophomores in my fraternity, I learned the importance of a personal relationship with Christ. I started praying regularly and reading the Bible, which I had never done before. With David there personally showing me the way, I was no longer going through the motions. I was no longer just going to church or on retreats just because others were. But I finally learned how to know Christ, to make Him a friend and companion rather than a far off God. Throughout the next couple years, David continued to help me to grow deeper in my relationship with Christ and showed me how to share my faith.

Now, as I spend my time at Baylor, I can only hope to be a David for these students; to help them navigate the waters through their time in college; to help them discover Christ in his fullness.

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Remember that time when it was super easy to be Catholic on a college campus? Yea, me neither! The struggle is real guys, but I guess that’s where I’ll start! My name is Ana Perez and I am a missionary with FOCUS (The Fellowship of Catholic University Students) at Baylor University. You may read the word “missionary” and have one of two reactions: either “wow, she must be super holy!” or “wow, she must be pretty crazy!” If you thought the first, although I appreciate it very much I can tell you how untrue that is in a bit. And if you thought of the second I will probably agree with you on most days! 🙂

I am from Eagle Pass, Tx, a small town on the border and I graduated this past May from Texas State University with a degree in Mass Communications and a minor in Spanish. During my 3 years at Texas State (shout out to high school dual credits!) I figured out a lot about myself and my purpose in life.

Let me start off by saying that the term “rock bottom” comes in different levels and situations for different people. My own personal rock bottom came at the beginning of my second year at Texas State. I was in a “high school sweetheart” relationship of about 2 years that wasn’t the best for me at the time. This guy, who had great qualities to him, had become my obsession and identity. I became so involved with what he was doing because I thought that was my role as his girlfriend. Soon after, I lost control of all things in my own life. I started drinking, partying, engaging in impure relations and being disrespectful to those around me. My grades dropped and I lost my faith in myself and most importantly in the Lord. I was living the quintessential college life to the best of my abilities!

At that moment in my life the only thing that would relax me was to drink with some friends. One night, my emotions, along with the alcohol, took over and I did things to people that I shouldn’t have done. I passed out pretty early in the night and as soon as I woke up I threw a massive temper tantrum. What on the surface looked like an explosion of anger was actually a desperate cry for help. I remember feeling defeated and destroyed. I was a fake, broken image of the real Ana that longed to be healed and heard. I left my friends and turned to the one Person I thought could help me. GOD BECAME REAL TO ME AT THAT MOMENT! I talked to Him like never before and He totally came to my rescue. I quickly went back to church and I found opportunities there to reestablish my identity in Him.

Through the rest of my time at Texas State I figured out what my purpose was. I saw how other students lived out their faith and I decided to challenge myself to do the same. I met wonderful people through bible studies, church events and retreats, who kept investing time in me and helped me go deeper than ever before.

So how did I get here as one of your FOCUS missionaries? Well, after seeing the missionaries at Texas State find the true beauty of their life in Christ I wanted to do the same. I wanted to help a girl who was just like me feel the same love I was shown and find Jesus in her own life. I love seeing the lives He impacts and being an instrument in His works.

I would’ve never imagined God would plan out my life the way He has so far but it’s definitely a lot better than with anything I could’ve planned for myself. I still struggle with questions and doubts and temptations but I have something bigger to hold on to now. I know Christ can inspire us to go forward and be courageous. There’s no other place I’d rather be right now and I can’t wait to see what else He has in store this year.

Anyhoo, I love meeting new people so if you’re around feel free to come up and say hello! I’m also available for hugs, funny jokes/Youtube videos and pretty much anything random! 🙂 God bless you always!
His love,
Ana

by Emily Edmondson, a theology student at Baylor University.  Emily is the student coordinator of RCIA this school year.

A few weeks ago, on March 3, Bishop Joe Vasquez, Bishop of the Diocese of Austin, came to St. Peter’s in order to officiate at our Confirmation Mass! This Confirmation Mass was for those who had been baptized in the Church, received the sacraments, but had yet to be Confirmed before attending Baylor.

As both a Catholic and a Baylor student, this is very poignant for me. First, that Baylor provides such an open environment to ponder questions about Christian faith and life in a college environment and, second, that those who were confirmed were able to find and contribute to a strong Catholic faith community at St. Peter’s.

As we as a Church prepare for Easter, I pray that these newly Confirmed continue to strengthen their faith, and add even more to the St. Peter’s community. The Catholic faith is very much active at Baylor and St. Peter’s!

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We had a great day helping the Class of 2021 #move2BU! Looking forward to meeting more of you tomorrow! St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us. Our new FOCUS team for the upcoming year. Keep all our Bears serving with @focuscatholic in your prayers while they continue their training.
pc: @briannacasias Happy Father's Day to our dear spiritual father, Fr. Daniel! We are so blessed!