Encountering SPO then Moving Into Household ... 3 Days Later: A Student's Testimony

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every
opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the
Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Opportunity is a breath. When God breathed life into us He breathed in an opportunity to
live a life for more than just ourselves.

My “SPO story” is kind of random. It’s not your typical small-group-into-formation- into-
household formula that I found to be common for many involved with this organization. My
journey with SPO started this past summer, months before I even knew that it existed. I was
starting my second summer as a New Student Orientation Leader for Texas State University and
a good friend of mine and I were looking for something to do together. We got separated into
different staffs and probably wouldn’t be able to chill together as much as we were used to, so
we decided going to church would be a different, more productive, and intentional way to spend
time together that we could at the very least try out. We talked about it a lot but never really
found the right opportunity to actually put this thought into action. Then the Lord sent a sign to me through a welcoming smile of a young woman involved with SPO. I never truly believed in the Holy Spirit until looking back on that moment, but it was that simple opportunity that lead me to SPO. I found out about household a couple of months later. I was looking for a place to live and for some reason I waited until late July. I heard about this Catholic Men’s House and the opportunity was nothing short of a miracle and completely guided by God. So, I met with our Mission Director, Ben Huntley, and that’s when I found out that this household is a program through Saint Paul’s Outreach. That same week I turned in an application and interviewed for a spot. A couple of days later on a Sunday I got a call saying I could move into the house and I moved in on that Tuesday.

I had literally no idea what to expect. I hadn’t been a practicing Catholic before moving
into household or even attending SNE (The School of the New Evangelization). Waking up at
6AM for morning prayer was rough. Trying to converse with eight strangers was intimidating.
Being consistent with personal prayer felt like it was going nowhere. But, every time that I felt
hopeless in everything I tried to do, a brother or sister that I made in this new community
lifted me out of this empty hole I thought I was in. The people in this community and especially
the guys in this house are each an opportunity to grow and learn from in my faith. When I choose
to take these opportunities, great things happen. Everyone in this house has something beautiful
to offer. Whether it Chris’ stoic presence but warm hugs, Robert’s assertion to say what he
believes, Josh’s loyalty to his brothers and our community, Blake’s ability to make me have fun
playing chess, Shobin’s Indian descent, Patrick’s love of the church, Jacob’s dedication to his
cause, Ben’s passion for worship, Andy’s genuineness, or Michael’s inspiring faith, it all inspires me.

September ended on a really good note. Our Lady of Wisdom University Parish hosts a
retreat that brings together each member of their larger community. It really didn’t matter if you
were a member of Saint Paul’s Outreach, or in FOCUS, or Mu Epsilon Theta, or Lambda Omega
Alpha, or even a practicing Catholic, all that mattered was the unity that brought us together
through our love of Jesus Christ. Yeah, this sounds corny as heck, for sure, but it was so real
becoming brothers and sisters with a solid group of pure genuine people and reaching a pinnacle moment in our spiritual journey with them. It was something I wasn’t really expecting. I first
signed up for the retreat to support some of the friends I made in our SPO community. Some takeaways were my first real confession revelations on decisions I had been discerning for months, friendships that actually mean something, lake-blobbing people 50 feet into the air, guys literally lifting me up so I could scale a cabin with them, being placed into a small group that was aposta-LIT, and just being genuinely happy all the time.

My life was changed by a smile, so my challenge to you is to smile; Smile all the time. And if it
hurts, offer it up.

Richard Saavedra

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