SFA's Catholic student ministry trying to follow Mother Teresa's - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

SFA's Catholic student ministry trying to follow Mother Teresa's example

St. Mother Teresa is influencing SFA Catholic students at St. Mary’s Catholic Campus Ministry. The teaching of reaching out to others is heard. (Source: KTRE Staff) St. Mother Teresa is influencing SFA Catholic students at St. Mary’s Catholic Campus Ministry. The teaching of reaching out to others is heard. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Father Denzil Vithanage has launched a media publicity effort to let the East Texas community know about student led programs. (Source: KTRE Staff) Father Denzil Vithanage has launched a media publicity effort to let the East Texas community know about student led programs. (Source: KTRE Staff)
St. Mary’s Catholic Campus Ministry is wanting to raise at least $500,000 for a new Catholic Student Center.  (Source: KTRE Staff) St. Mary’s Catholic Campus Ministry is wanting to raise at least $500,000 for a new Catholic Student Center. (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

Sunday's canonization of Saint Mother Teresa at the Vatican has provided inspiration to young Catholics in Nacogdoches.

Students there have outreach programs with an emphasis of “helping” people, not converting them, much like Teresa.

Huge crowds of pilgrims gathered at the Vatican to observe the canonization of Teresa.

In Nacogdoches, Stephen F. Austin State University student Sara Bushland was overjoyed.

"I had two separate parties to celebrate her canonization,” Bushland said. “We watched the 3 a.m. showing and the 9 p.m. showing.”

Following the examples set by Teresa, students at St. Mary's Catholic Campus Ministry are also reaching out to others.

"So many good things are happening, but I was wondering to what extent the larger community of East Texas is aware of what these wonderful college students are engaging in,” said Father Denzil Vithanage of the Sat. Mary’s Catholic Campus Ministry.

Vithanage' newly launched media outreach is spreading the word. There's even a Catholic radio station. It helps publicize an upcoming student-led Awakening Retreat that is for all students. 

"It's a formula that's been used by many universities,” said Andrew Smith, the co-coordinator for the Awakening Retreat. “It's not just here. It's at other universities, like Texas A&M and Texas Tech."

There's the St. Mary's Prayer Force visiting this week law enforcement and first responders.

"Probably, on a weekly basis we'll be reaching out to the local agencies to continue to offer up our prayers for them and their families,” said Austin Thurman, the ministry’s programs director.

Next Monday, a Blue Mass will pay further respect to the protectors.

"That's on Sept. 11 at 11 a.m.,” Thurman said.

They are all good deeds at a time when 80 percent of college students do not regularly attend a church. Vithanage addressed it in a letter this week to all Lumberjacks.

"Saying you don't have to wait,” Vithanage said. “You don't have to wait to get plenty of faith while you finish your studies. Now is the time."

St. Mary's has launched a half-million dollar building campaign to replace an aging Catholic Student Center. Demolition could start next summer.

Perhaps, Teresa may have some influence for St. Mary's.

"I think it will draw a lot of people,” Bushland said. “It gives the feeling, 'You know what. I can do this.' It's not something that happened in the 1500s or whatever. It's something still happening today."

Donations can be made online to the St. Mary's building fund. They can also be mailed to 214 Wettermark, Nacogdoches, TX 75965. All individuals, from all denominations are welcome at the facility on East College Street in Nacogdoches.

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