Humans of UD: Nick Lopez

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Alumnus of UD, campus minister

By his junior year at the University of Dallas, campus minister Nick Lopez knew that he wanted to be involved in campus ministry; initially he assumed that he would become a part of a larger college’s ministry program but this semester marks his tenth year working with UD.

Lopez spent four years completing his undergraduate degree in theology before taking a gap year to work. He then returned to school in California, but eventually found himself back at UD to finish his master’s degree in theological studies.

“A lot of Catholics go to state schools, and if they are not well formed themselves, studies show you’re more likely to become lukewarm in your faith if you’re challenged by other religions,” Lopez said. “I wanted to help them be able to navigate [what] they would experience at a large state school. That obviously didn’t happen. The pipe dream was always to end up here.”

Lopez focuses on the faith formation programming, while Fr. Thomas More Barba works liturgy; however, the two sections are often intertwined. Primarily though, Lopez works with retreats, faith groups, lectures, community service, and other programming aspects of the ministry.

Additionally, Lopez is recognized for his ministerial work outside of UD. For the past year, he has been invited to speak all over the world for the Young Adult Ministry.

The first conference he spoke at was the Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando, FL. He was invited to speak about the vocation to the single life in front of 2,500 people.

After the conference in Florida, Lopez received a call from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), informing him that he had been selected by a panel of cardinals and bishops to be one of the three delegates to go to Rome for a week. Two weeks before he left, he received an email from the Vatican explaining that their senate committee has asked him to represent both North and South America. They asked if he would give a ten minute address to the Holy Father.

“Certainly in Christian life, you have a sense of unworthiness sometimes, and that’s hard to stay away from, but I decided that whether or not I deserved this, I wouldn’t say no to God,” Lopez said. “So I went, and I spoke to the Holy Father.”

“That address changed my life,” he added. “For me, I didn’t see it as something to be congratulated for. I didn’t win anything. It was a duty, a responsibility.”

Since then, Lopez has been asked to give additional interviews and speak at conferences. He speaks especially about about vocations, young adult ministry, and Spanish ministry.

His most recent conference was “V Encuentro,” in which he spoke as a Hispanic young adult and as someone who works with young adults.

“I decided to once again speak about mental health for young adults because I figured they only gave me a few minutes and [the] topic [was about] speaking [and accompanying] young adults…and so as a minister, I felt it was my duty to tell the ministers there, 3,500 of them, that mental illness is what we need to be focusing on,” Lopez said.

Since high school, Lopez has felt called toward the ministerial life.

“[Freshman] year [of high school] is a huge influence on you and how you develop,” Lopez said. “You have to make decisions real fast [about] who you want to be. I knew that, even in a Catholic high school, it isn’t always easy to choose to be a faithful Catholic, so I wanted to be the kind of teacher to help them and influence them and encourage them to keep living out their faith.”

“I wanted to encourage young teenagers that you can be yourself, and as long as you’re confident in that, people will eventually respect you [for] that,” Lopez continued. “My call to Catholic education [is] more than just teaching the subject. It’s about forming the lives of young people.”

After having the opportunity to teach a theology course at his old high school, Lopez realized he was not meant to teach, but to be a campus minister for colleges.

Lopez was offered the opportunity to take on his “pipe dream” to become director of campus ministry at UD in the summer of 2017, after working in the office since the fall of 2014.

“I thank God that He led me to campus ministry,” Lopez said.

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