It is an incredibly exciting time at the University of St. Thomas to say the least.
Last year we were excited to kick off a new initiative on campus: a collaboration between Saint Paul’s Outreach, Campus Ministry, and the Department of Catholic Studies. This collaboration gave birth to a weekly program on campus called TommieCatholic, and its main focus was to unite all the Catholics on campus, bring in Catholics who would never show up at a religious event outside of Sunday Mass, bring in even the people who are not even Catholic, and come together as one body of Christ. This exciting effort, as well as a combination of evangelistic small groups, men’s and women’s nights, and a committed household community made the 2015-2016 school year at UST an incredible time for SPO and the Catholics on campus.
But… that was last year. And I’m not bashing all the incredible things that happened then, rather I wish to give them homage. When I was asked to write this and talk about all the incredible things that are happening here, I could not help but think of the words of John 4:38: “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have labored and now you have taken up their labor.” There is an incredible Catholic community on campus, and they have put so much effort into proclaiming the name of Jesus and uniting us all into one body. There have been faithful people who have gone before us and labored for the coming of the kingdom, and now we have the privilege of reaping what they planted, and we continue their mission.
That’s the exciting part: we get to take up that same yoke, and we do it with fervor and humility. Practically speaking, we’ve seen some incredible fruit already. We’ve had plenty of students step forward to take up leadership positions in this effort, including leading evangelistic small groups, helping to run men’s and women’s nights, a “street team” to coordinate efforts of everyday evangelization, and even some students having a hand in planning and executing TommieCatholic events. All of this, combined with the reality of having a packed-to-the-seams formation program, a household program that has nearly doubled its numbers, and an incredible outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon it all has made these first couple of weeks at the University of St. Thomas so incredibly exciting.
This outpouring hasn’t just been upon the programs and the community, however. I have noticed in my own life an incredible way that God is affecting change in my heart. I’ve been working in ministry for a fair amount of time now, but after attending the School of the New Evangelization this summer, I was and still am convinced that the best way that I can love and serve those on campus, those in the SPO community, and really everyone I meet, is to be close to Christ. It is by knowing and loving Him that I can honestly take this yoke upon my shoulders and happily enter into the labor of those who have gone before me.
Nick Vance - University of St. Thomas Junior