Miriam Webster defines a community as “a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.” Matthew 18:20 states that “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Whether we use the secular definition or the biblical definition it remains that those of us who spent any time whatsoever at the Catholic Center on the Stephen F. Austin campus were a community. We worshiped, ate and played together. Many of us lived together at some point in our stay at SFA and lots of us stayed in touch over the years, even if it has been via facebook or the annual Christmas card with the family portrait tucked inside. Community is an important part of who we are as humans but more importantly Community is who we are as Catholics ~ The Church.
David Overmeyer and I (Michelle Dubois Overmeyer) attended SFA from 1988 through 1991 and met on Awakening #7 or #8. On June 22nd of this year, we celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. Wow - what a journey it has been since that brief encounter on October 6, 1989 in Bishop Ganter Hall. We have so many fond memories of the Catholic Student Center (CSC) and it was such an integral part of our early relationship. The community at the SFA Catholic Center allowed us to bond with so many and form friendships with others who shared the same intensity and love for our Catholic faith as we did. Even after graduating, we attended many weddings of fellow Catholic Center couples over the years. It was incredible to share in that lasting community. Although we don’t keep in touch (as much as we should) with the friends we made during our short stay at SFA, we know that we can always count on them to be there for us. Just last summer, we called on two families (Michael/Angela Hines and Doug/Patrice Maraffa) for advice on moving to Houston. We reunited with these families and it was as if the 23 years that had passed by since being together at SFA had never existed (except for the gray hair and practically grown children). It was good to see these families and reminisce about the “good ole days” at the SFA CSC even if it was for a brief period of time.
After all these years, we have lived in Austin/Round Rock, Beaumont, Tyler, San Antonio and back to Tyler but we always come back to our fond memories and experiences at the CSC. Recently, we were contacted by the Development Director at the CSC, Michael Molina, to come meet with Father Rowland and discuss what was happening at St. Mary's Catholic Student Center. We attended Mass and Father asked us to meet him in the courtyard. As we waited for him, we reflected on the times we spent in that courtyard, in the church and in Bishop Ganter Hall. We recalled how the guys who lived in the “guys’ house,” or the lucky one who lived in the upstairs room in the hall, were responsible for the upkeep of the grounds. We recalled how impressed we were when we had returned some 10 years prior (for a very enjoyable reunion) at the improvements that had been made to the hall (added bathrooms and such), but we were dismayed by the conditions we saw that day. Not much had changed as far as the buildings and the grounds. In fact, the place was pretty dated and in shambles; but that is to be expected due to the age of the facilities. We talked about how we have two 2nd cousins beginning college at SFA this fall. We discussed the importance of having a well maintained and manicured facility to attract incoming Catholic freshmen and all future SFA Catholics.
Phillipians 2:3-4 says that we should “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves (ourselves), each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others.” David and I came to the conclusion that we, as the past community of St. Mary’s Catholic Student Center, have an obligation to make sure that the CSC remains an integral part of the Catholic Student population on the SFA campus. We ask that you recall your own experiences at the CSC and pray about what God may be calling you to share. It could be your time, your talents or your treasure. If nothing else, we are obligated to keep this campaign in our prayers. Again, (amen,) I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. Mt 18:19