Goodness gracious, I apologize it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything! Time has been flying by so fast! I don’t want to write you a novel, but there’s been so many things that have happened. I’ll give you a run-down of the semester highlights so far month-by-month… I figure it might be easier that way.
Well, I’ve definitely gotten to experience enough winter weather this year to make up for all the lack of it in Texas! Haha. This is a common sight I would walk outside to find, and I’ve gotten quite adept at clearing the snow from my car and shoveling the sidewalk/driveway.
SEMESTER KICK OFF!
We opened the semester with a casual pot luck at the SPO men’s household, which was fantastic. Somehow, we managed to fit 17-20 people in the upstairs area and had some great food, several different games going on, lots of good conversation. It was wonderful to have so many new faces there too! I’m encouraged to see some fruit from the work we put in last semester, and it’s just continuing to become more solid and expansive. Ryan has taken charge of a program we call “Street Evangelization” – we go up onto campus and engage in conversations with students passing by about their perspective on life, and any experiences with faith and what impact its had on them. This can often be challenging and daunting to go do, but what opportunities the Lord provides! I have had some incredible conversations with students all across the board – a vast diversity of beliefs, convictions, views, and questions. It has been incredible to share my own story with a few who have asked “Why do you choose to be Catholic?”
Oh, I’ve also learned to crochet – quite a valuable skill and helps me stay warm too! I made this scarf/ear-warmer set while being stuck inside on the many days we were snowed in! I was very pleased!
I’m excited to share with you that because of the new influx of students coming around the Newman Center, I’ve been able to put together 3 separate women’s small groups! This is a BIG DEAL! For women, small groups are the place where the wheels really start turning. The small group environment allows for really deep discussion of the material, the ability to be both vulnerable and honest because of the level of trust already established, and a place to make commitments and have accountability with them. In one of the groups, we are going through Matthew Kelly’s book The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. (I highly recommend you to read this! It’s fantastic!) These 4 things are Prayer, Study, Generosity, and Evangelization. Over the semester so far, we have been figuring out how to establish a daily prayer routine – What time of the day works best? Where have you seen the Lord working throughout your day? What are challenges you face to having prayer time each day? What is working well? How do you see your relationship with God developing through your prayer time? ….We’ve had some awesome discussions on this! I’m so proud of all these young women and I’m blown away by watching what the Lord is doing in their lives!
MARCH FOR LIFE
We travelled to Washington D.C. again this year for the March for Life. It was about -15 degrees the whole day, but it was so worth it! This is our SPO team, all bundled up and ready to go (with coffee, of course)!
The first weekend of February, I had the wonderful opportunity to take a student to visit a religious order for a Vocations Discernment Retreat. We drove up to Ohio and stayed with the Fransiscan Sisters, T.O.R. I think the Religious Life is one of the beautiful riches of Catholicism that people my age are so unfamiliar with, so it brought me a lot of joy to bring someone to understand more fully what the lifestyle of these women is actually like. We had such a powerful weekend! The retreat schedule provided us a lot of silent prayer and reflection time to slow down and actually listen to what God had to say. It was a blessing to be around the Sisters too – they are so lively and full of joy. We got to visit with them over the meal times and hear stories of what their life is like both inside and outside the convent, and how they discerned that this was what God had made them for. I enjoyed the weekend thoroughly and hope to take more students to another retreat later in the semester!
This is the Crucifix behind the Altar in their chapel. Absolutely stunning.
As the end of February drew near, it brought a whole bunch of birthday celebration! A couple student’s birthday were on the 24th, Courtni’s is the 25th, and mine is the 26th. Their friends, Mike, Ryan, and a bunch of our students planned a surprise party for us all! It was so wonderful and sweet of them to do!
Some of the lovely gifts I received!
TWO KINGDOMS RETREAT
In addition to our normal schedule of staff meetings, supervision, preparing for & leading small groups, household dinners, Street Evangelization, Jacob’s bible study, Men’s/Women’s nights, individual meetings with students, and attending daily mass, we also had a spring retreat to put on! Whew! All the time spent in preparation paid off well, and the retreat was awesome. Once again, I got to see firsthand the power of God working in these student’s lives; giving them healing and freedom from things in their past, and boldness and confidence to commit themselves to Jesus. What a great weekend!
So, with March also came the beginning of Lent! This year, Lent has been a bit radical for me. I had already thought about and made the decisions of what I was going to do in the areas of Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. On Ash Wednesday, I went to support a friend who was participating and helping put on an event for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which is a charity that promotes awareness and raises funds for Childhood Cancer. My friend had approached me earlier in the semester about participating in it, and I told her I would think about it. Well, I was convicted that it was indeed something I should do – and it was quite perfect that it was at the beginning of Lent! So, I signed up and got in line…
Yep, it’s been quite a semester so far! I hope your year has continued along smoothly! Y’all are in my prayers in a special way during this time of Lent – so if you have prayer requests, please don’t hesitate to send them my way! God Bless!