St. Mary's Catholic Campus Ministry

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A Letter from Father Denzil

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,

“Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the Lord. I have promised and I shall do it, says the Lord.” (Ezekiel 37: 12-14)

In this reading from the Fifth Sunday of Lent, the Israelites again find themselves away from their beloved Israel and in exile in Babylon. But God, speaking through the prophet Ezechiel, once again gives them hope, as He did in their exodus in the desert, that they would be delivered from bondage and reach Canaan, their Promised Land.

And, indeed, each year during Lent we are given the opportunity for our own exodus. Like the people of Israel freed from the bondage of slavery, we, as Christians, are called to experience the path toward hope and new life during the Lenten season. We follow Christ, who preceded us in His exodus. Through His Passion, Death and Resurrection, He opened up this path which leads to the freedom of a full, eternal and blessed life.

The story of the Israelites' journey to the Promised Land and God's faithfulness in times of suffering helps Christians better understand the Lenten experience. The whole path is fulfilled in hope, the hope of reaching the Promised Land, and in this sense it is an exodus, a way out from slavery to freedom. To open this path, Jesus gave up the trappings of His glory, choosing a life of humility and obedience to His Father's will. And for us, as for the Israelites, every step, every effort, every trial, every fall and every renewal has meaning within the saving plan of God, who wants life, not death, and joy, not sorrow for His people.

But we know it is not an easy path, but a challenging one, that we must follow. Christ's sacrifice on the cross is a love story, but that doesn't mean that He has done everything and we go to heaven in a carriage. Although, our salvation was surely His gift, because it is a love story, it requires our “yes” to Him, our participation and loving submission to His will, as shown to us by our Mother Mary, and after her, all the saints. Love is challenging, but our path is one of hope.

While Lent is a time of penance and mortification, a “time in the desert” for us, as we await Christ's Resurrection, it is also a time to renew our baptismal identity. Through our Baptism, He has put His Spirit within us and we are immersed in the Paschal Mystery- Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection. Through His victory we are called to nourish the small flame that was entrusted to us on the day of our Baptism and, as baptized Christians,we are challenged to follow Christ's path of suffering, love and hope which leads to resurrection.

I'm sure every student who participated in mission trips during Spring Breaks has had the same experience of having to go through suffering and hardships before experiencing joy. And for all of us, I believe we cannot fully experience the joy of Christ's Resurrection at Easter unless we have first passed through the desert of Lent.

So as we draw ever closer to the end of this year's Lenten journey, let us not lose hope. If we have not accomplished all we had planned there is still time. Our all-merciful, loving God is patient and always waits for us; He is always ready to give us hope if we place our trust in His love and mercy.

As we prepare to celebrate the joy of Easter may we ask Him for the grace to yearn and strive for our own Promised Land, a life of eternal happiness with Him in His heavenly kingdom.

May God Bless You Always and you are in my prayers and thoughts!

Fr. Denzil Vithanage

Letter From The Programs Director

Spring is in full swing here at St. Mary’s Catholic Campus Ministry. Students are busy and diligently working towards summer break, Maymester, Summers I & II, and even some are ready to graduate this May and August! As the semester draws closer and closer to the end, we would like to remind and invite all of our students that there are two applications available to be filled out for those aspiring leaders who would like to move up in the ranks and give to St. Mary’s in their own ways. The first application is to be a member of our Fall Outreach Team. Being a part of this team means that you and one other person from your organization would be working towards planning and carrying out summer orientation tabling dates, activities such as freshman move-in, St. Mary’s Go Roman Week for the first week of school, the Labor Day trip/activity and much more. Fall Outreach Team is made to help meet new students and bring them into the spiritually active, loving community of St. Mary’s and to keep them and to form them in the Faith. Applications are available in St. Joe’s Office and the deadline for those applications is March 31st. See myself, Fr. D. or Core Team for more information.

The next is for our student leadership team Core Team. Core Team is made up of various apostolates: Men’s’ & Women’s Ministries, Service, Liturgical Ministry, Fellowship, and more. Being a member of Core Team is a commitment that involves both Fall and Spring semesters and is a wonderful way to come up with ideas that could better promote and foster authentic friendships centered in Christ. So if you are interested in being a part of our leadership team, those applications can be found with Brittany Betik, Ganter Hall or in St. Joe’s Office.

As we get closer and closer to summer I’d like to invite all of you to a number of our great fellowship, spiritual, and formation driven programs we have in store for the coming months. As usual we have our weekly Monday Night Adorations at 8:30pm in St. Mary’s Chapel. Weather permitting; on April 3rd we will have adoration on campus in front of Surfing Steve at 8:30pm. Mark your calendars and RSVP for the Men’s or Women’s Retreat April 1st (signups can be found on our ministry’s Facebook page. Stay with us that following Sunday for our monthly Pizza Dinner on April 2nd following the 6pm Mass. Living Stations of The Cross will be Friday April 7th at noon on the campus of SFA starting in the garden outside of the Ferguson building. We will be walking together from St. Mary’s at 11:45pm. Monday April 10th through the 12th (Holy Week) we will be having 40 Hours of Adoration. Signup for time slots in the main entrance of St. Mary’s Chapel. There are so much more but the last I would like to bring to your attention is our last hurrah of the semester, the 3rd Annual Spring Block Party on May 6th. We want to give all the students of all the campus ministries a time and a place to relax and take a study break before Finals Week. If you would like to help out or sponsor an activity or item please, or want more information let myself know by contacting me at 972-765-8335 or by email at

God bless y’all,

Austin B. Thurman

Programs Director

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From the desk of FOCUS

We are ramping up our outreach as we approach the end of the year! "Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." (1 Cor 9: 26-27) Paul recognized that our lives are not just a practice session. Everything that we do, at all times, is part of the greater mission of Christ. Whether we realize it or not, we are either getting close to the Lord or we are getting farther away. And this also applies to the men and women around us. They are either coming to know Him or they are distancing themselves. This is the solemn duty that Christ has entrusted to us: to bring his lost children back to him at all times. So as we enter into the last quarter of the year, we continue to run the race, harder now then ever before, even at the expense of our own lives!

In Christ,

Dorian Arellano

News and Events

Retreats in April

We have a women's, as well as a men's retreat coming up at the beginning of the next month. The weekend of March 30-April 2nd will be filled with faith, fellowship and fun, as the men's ministry take the men out to Lake Ratcliffe and the Women head over to ZipNac. Please pray for these young men and women as they embark on this spiritual adventure.
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How's Your Lent Going?

Here at SFA the Lenten season is a special time. Daily mass and weekly stations are open for students to grow closer to Jesus as we examine his passion. With the Knights doing their annual fish-fry on Fridays and the Circle focusing on service and fasting, the students here at SFA are given many opportunities to learn more about their Catholic faith.

A living stations of the cross will be preformed by our very own students. They have been preparing, led by Amber Hicks and Brianna Clark, for many weeks and hope to bring Lent to the SFA campus. Please come and support these wonderful students and watch the Stations of the Cross in a new and interactive way.

Spring Break Mission Trips

During Spring break our FOCUS missionaries, students and Father D. Traveled around the world to their mission trip destinations. A group, led by Amanda traveled to the Holy Land as they saw the birth and death place of Jesus Christ. The other group of students, led by Megan Callaghan, traveled to Nicaragua where they served the poor and lowly. Both trips where incredibly impactful for everyone involved. Thank you for all of your prayers and support you provided throughout the year and the week.

My Mission Trip to the Holy Land: by Hannah Hammons

Just a snippet of my experience in Israel this past spring break. About half an hour’s worth, to be exact. Remembering to the best of my abilities, this is what happened and how I perceived this event.

Rami, our fantastic tour guide, had scheduled mass for us at 5AM (yeah, that was rough) in the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid (which totally makes up for it). It happened to be so early because the Catholics only get the tomb for religious purposes from 5-9AM every day. This is what had been agreed upon between the different religions who claim jurisdiction. Much of the church is stuck in its current state because of these agreements. For example, Rami told us of the Immovable Ladder, which can still be seen on the outside of the church. It has remained since 1854 because of their disagreement to move it.

I remember Rami saying, “Father, no singing, no homily, just mass.” Because of the time frame they try to schedule as many masses as they can- one every half hour. Father and Andrew were inside the actual tomb where Jesus was laid, and the rest of us were in a still very tiny, circular room just outside where his body would have been prepared. We were going two-by-two into the tomb to venerate the rock (which happened to be covered in marble, because our hand oils destroy things, but whatever). We got two minutes to be in the actual tomb before we switched out and continued slowly circling the tiny room.

In this moment I thought of my grandparents. They went to The Holy Land on their last big trip before Papa got sick, and I remember Meme put together a scrapbook. I would spend what felt like hours looking at it, trying to imagine what it must be like. They had told me they got to say mass here, in Jesus’ tomb. Meme also had mentioned that their group had taken turns like we were, going in for about two minutes, two-by-two. My grandparents had been blessed, given an amazing gift and experience, for they had been inside the tomb when the bread had become flesh and the wine became Jesus’ blood.

Obviously, I was hopeful this would happen to me. How amazing, how truly real.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I would have said I reminded myself of this, but now that I look back I’m sure it was the Holy Spirit reminding me that I would be taken care of in His own way. In other words, I didn’t want to want it because I didn’t need it. I didn’t need this to strengthen my faith, not that it wouldn’t have, but someone else may have needed it more.

Amanda and I entered the teeny, tiny tomb. We knelt beside the rock, the level Jesus’ body had rested at. Directly above, about two feet, was the altar in which Father was using, saying mass. There wasn’t much space from any angle. When I attempted to get myself together again and lend my mind to the present, in my time of being there these words were spoken:

Father saying: Lord wash away my iniquities, cleanse me from my sins. This has always been such a precious part of the mass for me. I could talk about this for days, so let me not…

And then: Pray, brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.

And with all the sincerity in my heart we said together: May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his Holy Church. Have you ever thought about that? It hit me as if the marble altar had suddenly fallen and crushed my head. For our good, and the good of all his Holy Church.

Jesus did all of this for us. We are his Church. He did everything for our good, because he loves us. Everything. Everything that you endure, everything that you go through, every single suffering, it is all for our good. I know, you’re probably like, “Good? Hannah, what good? Suffering is the worst thing ever” (my words exactly about 10 months ago). Yes, indeed it’s extremely difficult, but suffering is not the worst thing ever. Every discomfort, every joy, every moment of distress, and anxiety, and bliss is an opportunity to show God how much we love him back by saying “God, I trust in your plan.” In those moments when we are low and we are weak- these are chances to grow in faith. These are opportunities to rely on God’s promise that he will take care of us.

Isiah 49: 14-16

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;

my Lord has forgotten me.”

Can a mother forget her infant,

be without tenderness for the child of her womb?

Even should she forget,

I will never forget you.

See, upon the palms of my hands I have engraved you;

your walls are ever before me.

I do not doubt you have been through hardship. God does want you to be happy, but we cannot have true love without suffering. You cannot love without having compassion, which literally means “to suffer with.” Our Lord has big plans for you. Remain faithful, for Christ’s promise is worth the current discomfort. God hears your cry, and your pain will not last forever.

Romans 4:3-8

Faith, Hope, and Love.

We even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance,

and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope,

and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly.

Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.

But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

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Building Fund and How YOU Can Help

The phonathon was a huge success and raised $30,000 dollars towards the student center. We are so thankful for our wonderful alumni, community and parents for supporting us through monetary means and prayers. With your help we could have this done by next year!

Also if you are able, donate! We need your help to make the Catholic Church a second home for our students.

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Mass Times

Sunday: 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, 6:00 PM

Monday: 5:05 PM

Tuesday: 5:05 PM

Wednesday: 5:05 PM

Thursday: 5:05 PM

Friday: 5:05 PM

Saturday: 9:00 AM