Wednesday, February 2, 2011

George Weigel Praises St. Mary's Catholic Center at Texas A&M

We brought George Weigel (John Paul II's biographer) to town for a lecture at the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M several years ago as part of St. Mary's Distinguished Speaker Series. He was very impressed by our campus ministry.

Today he wrote an article about us and it is very flattering.
Aggie Catholic Renaissance
Feb 2, 2011
George Weigel

Where can you find a Catholic chaplaincy at an institution of higher learning that’s looking to expand its church to seat 1,400, because the current 850 just isn’t enough?

South Bend, Indiana, perhaps? Well, no, actually: College Station, Texas, where the Catholic chaplaincy at Texas A&M, St. Mary’s Catholic Center, is setting a new national standard for Catholic campus ministry.

Aggie Catholicism is something to behold. Daily Mass attendance averages 175; there were closer to 300 Catholic Aggies at Mass on a weekday afternoon when I visited a few years back. Sunday Masses draw between 4,000 and 5,000 worshippers. There are 10 weekly time-slots for confessions, which are also heard all day long on Mondays. Eucharistic adoration, rosary groups, the Liturgy of the Hours, and the traditional First Friday devotion are staples of Aggie Catholicism’s devotional life.

A rich retreat program is available, and each year some 1,250 students make or staff a retreat sponsored by St. Mary’s. “Aggie Awakening,” an adaptation of Cursillo for students, is one of the cornerstones of the campus ministry; other, specially designed programs include a silent retreat and a retreat titled “Genius of Women.” In 2009-10, 200 students participated in bi-weekly spiritual direction programs, and another 70 took part in the “Samuel Group,” an exercise in Ignatian discernment that includes a commitment to curb what one campus minister describes as “unnecessary TV and Internet use.” Two thousand A&M students, not all of them Catholics, have participated in introductory sessions exploring the theology of the body, and many have continued that exploration in follow-on study groups.

Then there is service. Aggie Catholics participate in domestic and international missions, work with Habitat for Humanity, take part in a ministry to prisoners, and are involved in various pro-life activities. In fact, the 40 Days for Life program is an outgrowth of the Catholic campus ministry at Texas A&M; the national office of 40 Days is staffed by Aggie grads. The campus ministry also works with a local Life Center that helps mothers and families in difficult situations.
CONTINUE READING.
The article also has appeared on these websites:
*Catholic Exchange
*Inside Catholic
*Denver Catholic Register
*Joe Carter, web editor for First Things, links to the article and makes a few Aggie jokes.

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