By Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer
Baylor’s Catholic Student Association (CSA) works to connect with students on campus and presents unique ways to learn about and become involved in the Catholic faith.
CSA is a student-run group which partners with a local Catholic church, St. Peter’s, located on Ninth Street near the Stacy Riddle Forum. St. Peter’s is the spot a large number of Catholic students call their church home and contains a Catholic Student Center to encourage students to get involved.
San Marcos junior Laura Rivas serves as the president of CSA and has been involved in the organization since her freshman year. As president, she serves as the main leader and contact for the group and assists other officers with executing their plans and goals. She appreciates the variety of events CSA puts on to get its members connected.
“We have general meetings on Tuesdays every other week, and for the weeks we don’t have meetings, we have something called Rosatree, which is where we pray the rosary at a tree on campus,” Rivas said. “We actually participate in a lot of Baylor events as well, like Steppin’ Out, the homecoming parade and tailgating. We also have some of our own events — in the fall our main event is Christmas Coffee, a dinner and dance on campus, and in the spring we have Dia Del Catholic, also on campus. We also have adoration at least once a month at a chapel on the Baylor campus.”
Waco sophomore Jordan Vanderpool serves as the vice president of CSA and joined the group after meeting some welcoming group members at Late Night. He was surprised by how large the Catholic community is on campus and said he hopes to continue promoting the organization.
“There is absolutely a larger Catholic community than I expected, and it’s thriving much more than I expected as well,” Vanderpool said. “We plan on doing a lot of public outreach through activities like Late Night, having sports days, advertising at churches and of course through food. “
Rivas was also pleasantly surprised by how large and welcoming of a community CSA and St. Peter’s was, and sees the group as being open-minded to new members and people of other faiths.
“Catholic community was something I looked into when I was applying to college because I’ve always been very involved in my faith,” Rivas said. “There’s a very large Catholic population here, and the community at St. Peter’s is very warm and welcoming. It’s a Catholic church but is very open-minded to all denominations — it’s not closed off.”
An exciting event coming up for CSA is their Bear Awakening retreat with St. Peter’s, which will be held from Oct. 26 to 28. Rivas said the retreat is a great opportunity to meet people from the group and grow stronger in faith.
“I went my freshman year, staffed it my sophomore year and now I’m on leadership,” Rivas said. “It’s a weekend retreat and a time where we invite people in the St. Peter’s community and those that don’t attend the church to interact in small groups and grow in faith by getting to know God more. It’s a lot of prayer, group activity and getting to know others.”
Vanderpool attended Bear Awakening last year and will be on staff at the retreat this year. He is excited to see the spiritual growth and connections that will come from the time spent together.
“The talks by students were great, and it was awesome to see, especially as a freshman, how much the upperclassmen knew about their faith — it was very encouraging,” Vanderpool said. “I hope all the students this year can really have some sort of conversion at this retreat that will bring them closer to Christ.”
Rivas said the easiest ways to sign up for the Bear Awakening retreat is online at https://baylorcatholic.org/retreater-application or signing up after Mass at St. Peter’s.