Big News from Our Director of Development!

Hello friends of St. Peter’s,
traviswebsite1It is bittersweet to announce that I am stepping down as Director of Development for St. Peter’s to pursue a new opportunity with FOCUS National beginning October 15th.
Thanks to this ministry, I have found and embraced my Catholic faith, made wonderful friends, and began an exciting career in Catholic fund development. I am so appreciative of Father Daniel’s support and encouragement as well as the encouragement of those in the immediate Baylor Catholic community.
We are currently undergoing the process of finding my replacement. Know that this ministry is in very good hands and you can expect to see more and more young people on fire for Christ as a result of their time here.
I apologize if I was not able to share this news in person and I hope to see or talk to as many of you as possible before I leave.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
P.S. I’ve included a link to the job description below.
While we are sad to see him go, we are overjoyed for the new adventure Travis is setting out on! Please keep him in your prayers and tell him congratulations when you see him! 

Thursday with Travis: Second Cup


In the professional life it’s pretty common for someone to experience an “afternoon slump”. In the morning many people show up to their places of work ready to rock and roll. They grab a cup of coffee, sit down at their desk, and get down to business. It’s nothing but productive and effective work and BAM before you know it, it’s time to eat lunch. Unfortunately, it’s what happens after lunch that’s the problem. During the “afternoon slump”, morale drops, productivity is halted, and quite frankly nobody feels like being at the office anymore.

This type of day happens to me at the office all the time. I get in, have a cup of coffee, and I can’t wait to do whatever it takes to perform my duties well. One day the afternoon came and I had my slump. That day though, I decided that this work was too important to have an afternoon slump. So I said a prayer and grabbed a second cup of coffee. Now that second cup of coffee represents more than just a beverage I enjoy drinking or an afternoon pick me up, it represents a resolution that’s renewed everyday. The second cup is a resolution to not give up just because the day is starting to seem long, an assertion that your work is important enough to see it through to its completion.

The spiritual life works just like that. We get our prayer lives going and before you know it, it’s daily Mass, Rosaries, and boy oh boy we can’t get enough Adoration. But then for one reason or another we take a lunch break. It is important in your professional life to take breaks, but a person should never take a break from their spiritual life. However, the reality is your spiritual life is not always as fervent as it should be. Sometimes, you will take an unexpected lunch break and when that happens you will be tempted to become discouraged. These are the times where it is most important not to quit.

So during those times where maybe you haven’t been very motivated in your prayer life, fight with all your might not to become discouraged. Grab that second cup of coffee and get back to it!

“Discouragement is an enemy of your perseverance. If you don’t fight against discouragement you will become pessimistic first, and lukewarm afterwards. Be an optimist.” – (St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 988).

3 Tips for the Sanctity of the Lifting Man

Travis, everyone’s favorite director of development, is here with some epic tips on how to improve your workouts and your prayer!

{photo from Jared Zimmerer}

This one is for the Catholic meat heads of the world. If done right there should be few places holier than the weight room, where weights clanking together sound as sweet as church bells, chalk fills the room like incense in Mass, and men and women approach the iron like it’s the answer to their prayers. Well… it’s not the answer to your prayers but it can help aid your prayer and help you to grow in virtue. Below are a few tips to help you add virtue to you gym sessions:

1) “Pray before, after, and during your lifts” – Jared Zimmerer
A workout is the perfect place to figure out the intricacies of your soul. It is interesting that in order to grow our muscles we have to tear them down first. It is the same with our souls, if you invite Christ and His Blessed Mother to the gym with you they will reveal to you things you never knew about yourself. Trust me on this.
“Let us work. Let us work a lot and work well, without forgetting that prayer is our best weapon. That is why I will never tire of repeating that we have to be contemplative souls in the middle of the world, who try to convert their work into prayer” – St. Josemaria Escriva.

2) Train until failure.

Your time in the gym is a time to remember your mortality. Not only will you build more muscle, but in choosing to do those extra reps that are so difficult and painful, you will be able to make difficult choices outside of the gym. When the temptation to be lazy at work arises, or to give in to that moment of weakness in front of your laptop, you will know what it’s like to push yourself to your limits and you will be able to overcome. It is also important lesson in perseverance, if a person is stuck benching 225 lbs. for 8 reps, does he stop trying to get the 9th rep. No, that person continues to work and fail at 8 reps until he can do 9. In a similar way, when we fall into sin, especially into mortal sin, you get to confession and get back to work! When you fall again, you do the same thing. Discouragement IS the devil so when you fail the only thing you should be thinking about is your next set. Get back on the bench and try again!
“We expect that God, in his omnipotence, will defeat injustice, evil, sin and suffering with a triumphant divine victory. Instead, God shows us a humble victory that in human terms seems to be a failure.”- Pope Francis

3) Absolutely never say no to spotting a fellow lifter- especially if they are new to the gym!

Especially when someone is new to the gym, they could be extra vulnerable. Nothing drives me crazier than when someone is too into themselves to take five seconds out of their workout to help spot and motivate someone else in the gym. When someone is new to the gym, one bad experience can sour them forever. This reminds me of another place where people get soured because they were not welcomed in the proper way…oh yeah CHURCH. The bottom line is, when someone needs help and you’re in a position to offer help (in this case you always are), you offer help. Period. “Iron is sharpened by Iron; one person sharpens another”- Psalm 27:17.
As Catholics, our bodies are temples of the most wonderful gift on earth, the Eucharist. So when we are pursuing our fitness goals, we should keep this in mind and make sure the process is virtuous. We wouldn’t want to build a parish for our own glory we would want it to represent the beauty inside. So the same goes for your body, when you are sculpting and building your temple make sure it is for the right reasons! Also, for the love of God enjoy your workouts!


Drink Your Jesus Black

by Travis Schilling, Director of Development for St. Peter’s Catholic Student Center. 


Many people who know me understand that I am, in a very odd way, outspoken about how one should drink their coffee. One quiet morning here at the center I sat down to drink my coffee and upon taking that first sip (the best part of any holy man’s day), I got to thinking about how delicious coffee is without any of what I often refer to as “nonsense”(cream, sugar, etc.).  After wasting a ridiculous amount of time on this thought I had a revelation… Jesus is a lot like coffee! This is true in a couple of different ways:

The first way is that often times people drink coffee not so much because they enjoy the taste but because they simply want a pick me up. For this reason, they will load their coffee up with all sorts of the aforementioned “nonsense” because they cannot actually stand the taste of the drink itself. This is like many in our society today that want everything Jesus has to offer them but do not want to live out their Universal Christian Vocation: Holiness! Grace is a free gift if we would only choose to accept it. In the book of Peter the Lord says, “he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion”.  Jesus is who Jesus is and has said what he has said. We must make a conscience effort every day to live out our Baptism and the Lord will surely bring Joy to our lives!

The second way people “disguise the taste” of Jesus is that they underestimate his mercy. While we are all called to holiness, the fact is that we are still HUMAN. We will surely make mistakes, we will surely fall short from time to time, and yes we will surely sin. However, there is no need to try to hide our shortcomings from Jesus; he has literally died so that we may come to him as we are. These instances of sin, insecurity, or any sort of failure are not a time in which we should be disguising our coffee; it is precisely in these times where we need to allow Jesus to pour us a nice hot cup of Grace just as it is and just as we need it. It is in these times where we ought to “confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”– Hebrews 4:16

Now please do not miss my point, this is not a lesson on how you should drink your coffee. It is fine to enjoy a cup of coffee with a little cream and sugar but as for your daily cup of Jesus… Drink it Black!


Let Me Say It Again…Do not be afraid!

By Debbie Shannon, Director of Ministries & Development

The lines were exceptionally long at the Lenten Reconciliation service I attended this week. In fact, I was the very last penitent to leave two and a half long hours after arriving and choosing a confession line. As my feet ached standing at the end of my line, I contemplated joining others who had succumbed to sitting on the floor while waiting to shift a few inches closer to the confessional. Ultimately, I decided God was asking for a bit of additional penance from me, and it was the least I could offer Him, so I stood.


Having that much additional time for preparation, I got to revisit the list of sins I was bringing for absolution a bit more than I had anticipated.  It was a severe mercy to contemplate why I fall prey to some of the sins that appear on my confession list so often.  My first conclusion was pride.  Pride seems to be at the root of so many of my sins. Yep, that’s it…pride.

Well, the line was still long and so I had time to think a bit deeper. Is it just pride?  What makes us so vain, arrogant and proud in the face of God.  Deep down, I think most of us are actually more insecure than we are proud.  Then came the aha moment…deeper still, underneath pride is the real enemy – Satan’s tool – FEAR!

“Fear not!” is the most repeated command in the Bible. In fact, it’s been said that there are 365 “Fear nots” in the Bible — one “Fear not” for every day of the year! A little internet research (and you know everything on the internet can be trusted) shows that actually, there are more than 365 “Fear nots” in the Bible! They may not be the exact phrase, but “Fear” is spoken of over 500 times. Clearly, God wants to make a point here. “Do not be afraid!”


I lie because I fear being ‘found out’.  I take what is not mine because I fear being without. I envy and covet my neighbor because I fear others are ‘one up’ on me. I skip Mass because I fear I will miss out on something more exciting or entertaining. I speak ill of, or gossip about, my neighbor because I fear being found lacking myself, so I belittle them first.  I could go on and on, and did in my mind that night. It is really ‘fear’ that drives my temptation to sin. And the devil loves it!

So, if Jesus came to forgive us and  save us from sin, and fear is the root of all sin, it’s no wonder He kept stressing, “Do not be afraid.”

Of course, when someone tells me, “Don’t worry,” I think, “Sure, that’s easy for you to say…” But, Jesus didn’t just leave us with an empty cliche’. He gives us ammunition against Satan’s ace in the hole.  He told his disciples (and us), “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)

Meditating on the crucifix of Jesus I see a man who embraced that which paralyzes all of us – the fear of death. I know He experienced great suffering in His agony in the garden. He knew what lay ahead of Him, but rather than be paralyzed with fear, what did He do?  He trusted the will of the Father.

How do I set down my fear and take up this peace Jesus offers me?  I must trust Him.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Trust! In his masterful reflection, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Blessed John Paul  II says, “Have no fear! Do not be afraid of God’s mystery, do not be afraid of His love; and grandeur! Man does not cease to be great, not even in his weakness.” (CTH, p.12)


The message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Blessed Faustina Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun who wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread. The message of mercy is that God loves us — all of us — no matter how great our sins. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than sin. A decision to trust completely in Him, to set down our fear and trust the mercy of God with thanksgiving, brings peace!

“Do not be afraid…for I am with you.” (Isaiah 41:10) and “My peace I give to you, My peace I leave with you…even in that long confession line!



A Visit from a Waco Catholic Hero

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.

Edi Gibney brings Msgr Deering to St P

Edi Gibney, long time friend and volunteer at St. Peter’s, accompanied Msgr. Deering to Mass at St. Peter’s.

Msgr Deering visits w students at lunch

The monsignor visited with students over lunch, always asking where they were from and stressing what a blessing Baylor is for them as a Christian university.

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!


…and He healed many who were sick

By Debbie Shannon

Today’s Gospel for January 16 in Ordinary Time (Mark 1:29-39) strikes a special chord for me. It tells the story of Jesus’ healing of Simon Peter and Andrew’s mother who ‘lay sick with a fever.’ Scripture says her sons “…immediately told Him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.”

We all know people, maybe family members or close friends, who are suffering from sicknesses that we have immediately taken to Jesus in prayer. Upon hearing a diagnosis of a serious or potentially terminal illness, most of us feel lost as to how to help our loved one. The one thing we do know to do, and usually assure our sick friend of, is our prayers. We know that we can take their need to the great Healer, Jesus. Sometimes, God provides a way for us to ‘be a help’ as well.

Just over two years ago, my family was devastated by the diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia in my granddaughter – at just 4 months of age. Living states apart, the only thing I could do initially, when my daughter called with the horrible news, was lift little Clara in prayer. Of course, as soon as possible, I got on a plane and headed to be with them at the hospital. We almost lost her in the first days of cancer treatment. I visited regularly over the next months to be by their side as Clara endured multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, another scare that almost took her from us, and ultimately a bone marrow transplant. We were so grateful to be at Lucille Packard Hospital at Stanford University – one of the foremost facilities for treating Clara’s type of cancer, but I knew that ultimately, it was GOD that would get us through it all.

Quite honestly, I was also very worried about my daughter and her husband. Something like this ‘tests’ your faith. I remember my daughter sharing with me how she now understood why some people question that God can really be good, yet allow an innocent young child to come into the world only to suffer and die.

That comment and it’s parallel to Jesus’ life and purpose was not lost on me. I began to pray even more earnestly that my daughter would still see God in Clara’s situation and in Clara herself, and that she would know that He loved her and had only the best of intentions for all of them. I wanted her to know that it was cancer, not God, that was causing her suffering. I feared for my daughter’s faith as much as I feared for my granddaughter’s life. I began to pray earnestly for BOTH of them, and asked God to somehow show my daughter where He was in all this.

He did.

Clara had no siblings at that time and since the only hope for her survival was a bone marrow transplant, she would need a complete stranger to donate stem cells. They would need to be a very good match – a ‘perfect’ match. She needed a miracle.

I would like to share a video that Clara’s mother, my daughter Brooke, created as a ‘birthday gift’ to the young college student who ‘saved Clara’s life.’ Clara today is a healthy, intelligent and infectiously happy 2 1/2 year old. She has a very special ‘hero’ named John, a fellow Catholic who, through the “Be a Match” marrow donor program, was matched to Clara.

As for my daughter’s faith, I will also never forget the conversation I had with Brooke after they were finally able to learn the identity of Clara’s donor. She had been participating in a bible study on Love and her bible translation often used the word ‘charity’. She said she realized that even in the dark days and weeks and months that she could not ‘see’ God, He had been there all along. She recognizes Him now in the selfless act of charity that a young man offered her daughter that saved her life.

NOTE: “MAZE” – an illusionist show benefiting the Be the Match donor program – will be held January 26th at 7pm at the Waco Convention Center Brazos Room. Admission is free for college students.

Like Clara, Illusionist Jim Munroe had a stem cell transplant from a stranger that saved his life.  Jim was living his life a Christian, but would be the first to say that God wasn’t always first in his life.  Coming home on a flight one night, he recognized something was terribly wrong and his wife drove him straight to the hospital on his arrival to DFW.  It was leukemia, and after months of chemo and many prayers, Jim started a new life, with new blood going through him.  He now uses his time addressing students on and off campus…showing them that things aren’t always as they seem, and having faith and trust to believe in things you can’t always understand.  Jim has met his life-changing stranger – a college student – and has created 10 more donor/patient transplants because of his work.

Jim will visit the Baylor campus from 1-3 pm the day of the event to promote the show and give information about participating in “Be the Match.”

For more information: