Fr. Jonathan Niehaus, the previous director of the Texas State Catholic Student Center (CSC), explored the most effective processes for training student leaders. In the summer of 2008, he and Associate Director, Melinda Habingreither, discerned one superb student to send to the School of New Evangelization (SNE), a 10-day training program hosted by Saint Paul’s Outreach in St. Paul, MN. This student (Colleen D’Andrea) returned and began meeting with other students to teach them how to evangelize their peers. The following summer (2009), a group of seven students attended SNE and returned ready to transform the activities at the CSC into means of bringing people into a relationship with Jesus Christ and to give them the support to continue living as Catholics is this challenging culture. Last summer (2010), eighteen Texas State students participated in the evangelization training and they have been reaching out to fellow students to build friendships with them that are centered in Christ. This summer, 23 Texas State students received evangelistic training at SNE and met our three new missionaries from Saint Paul's Outreach. SNE students worked alongside the missionaries at the New Student Orientation during the first week of school which brought in many new faces into the CSC. The students have served as greeters before Mass, have sought out newcomers, and have made the CSC a more welcoming community. They continue to meet regularly to encourage each other in reaching out to their peers to evangelize them.
Most members of the SNE team live in “households,” intentional Christian communities in which they pray and share meals together. They invited others to share in this, with much success. For this school year (2011-2012), they have established two women’s households and one men’s household, with a total of 15 students. The households are led by the Saint Paul's Outreach missionaries. This community will empower them to grow in faith together and invite others to see the life to which God has called them—as Jesus said to Peter and Andrew—“Come, and see.” Additionally, Saint Paul's Outreach hosts men’s and women’s nights which include prayer, a speaker and fellowship. The women’s nights last year attracted 30 students in the fall and 50 in the spring; the men gathered more often with about 10-20 each time. Both men’s and women’s nights will continue this year.
A new favorite SNE experience this year was praying the Liturgy of the Hours. The students were introduced to an adapted form of Morning and Night prayer, which begins with Praise and Worship songs, chanting the Psalms and then praying the petitions in an extended form. They introduced this to the CSC in the fall of 2009: this year all are welcome to join for morning prayer on Wednesdays at 7 a.m. and Night Prayer on Sundays at 9 p.m. in the Chapel. Attendance at these prayer times has increased to over 30 by the end of the year!