Joel Mathews, 1992 SFA CSC Alumni & Task Force Leader
December 2, 2015
My SFA college days started in the fall of 1988. I was a typical freshman, doing my best to get to class and keep my grades up. It was not until the spring semester of 1989 while I was out venturing around campus when I actually found St. Mary’s Catholic Student Center. To be honest with you, I didn’t think college kids went to church unless they went home for the weekend or for longer breaks. I didn’t have a car or bicycle, so my excuse for not making Sunday Mass was an easy excuse. Little did I really know just how close the Catholic Chapel and Student Center really were to campus.
I remember that day in late January like it was yesterday. I was walking down East College Street, when John Raney and Doug Smith spotted me checking out the courtyard and white house. They introduced themselves and then promptly asked me if I had been on the Awakening. Unsure of what they were referring to, I asked them, “What is that?” They both smiled and said, “Come on in and we will tell you all about it.” While I felt very welcomed, I think there was a contest at the time among CSC students to see who could recruit the most students for the next Awakening. From that time forward my involvement in the student center grew more with each passing day. In the years to come I would staff the next six Awakenings in various roles, including one where by I gave the talk on the Holy Spirit. In the fall of 1989 I met my soon to be wife, Kelly Janak through friends at the CSC. The CSC would continue to be an important part of our lives as I would propose to her on an Awakening.
The spring of 1989 was also when I got to meet Father Ron Groschen, of the La Salettes. Father Ron was not a tall man, but the life he brought to the CSC was larger than life. He had great energy and enthusiasm that was infectious to the students. Father Ron inspired us to keep Jesus in our hearts and to appreciate the history of the church. As an altar server, I got front row seating for his extensive homilies.
In my senior year at SFA, I was part of the founding members of the Knights of Columbus council at the CSC. As I visit over the years, I am glad to hear this council is still going strong, providing the initial step to young men as they go into the next phase of their lives. For me, this was a springboard into being an active parishioner when I landed in Houston, Texas.
For me, St. Mary’s Catholic Student Center played a pivotal role in my life that I will be forever grateful. With that, I am proud to be part of the Alumni Task Force to help drive the capital campaign for the renovation of the CSC. Please join me in helping the CSC to continue to bring our Catholic faith to students of today, and tomorrow.