As Fall Reading Day drew to a close, approximately 100 students from the University of Dallas gathered to attend the Catholic Student Summit, held in Victoria Park.
From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Catholic young adults from UD, Southern Methodist University and the University of North Texas convened to play yard games, listen to a talk given by Fr. Joseph Paul and lift their souls to God with some praise and worship led by junior pastoral ministry major Zach Weiss.
According to Dylan Steward, a freshman on the pre-architecture track: “I think the biggest thing that I got out of the event is that I realized that other students our age also have the same level of love in God around the area. I feel like sometimes we tend to focus on people that are in our own school, but we forget about all the other people that have the same interest and love in God too.”
This particular event is a new concept, first discussed by John Paul O’Brien, senior pastoral ministry major, and Weiss at a Co-Workers of the Vineyard of the Lord meeting.
The original idea was to invite students from the SMU Catholic Student Center to build strong relationships between both communities based on the fire of the Catholic Faith; it soon expanded to include UNT, TCU, UTD, Baylor and several others.
When they reached out to the respective Catholic student leadership at these institutions, it was received positively. Though the Diocese of Dallas did not officially sponsor this event, it came forward to offer its full support.
“I think that a lot of students were starving for something like this, especially post-COVID … several of the communities were struggling to get back on track,” said O’Brien. “So we said we’d do it: we’d get it together, we’d host it ourselves — we’re the Catholic school! Why not?!”
As the official organizers of the event, Weiss and O’Brien arranged the logistical side of the affairs, such as renting out the meeting space and inviting UD’s chaplain as a speaker. With the full support of the other universities at their fingertips, they faced few challenges.
At the event, the presence of UD students outnumbered that of any other university. Several connections and opportunities to pray, live and serve the Church were made among the Catholic and non-Catholic students from the DFW area.
During a Catholic student leadership meeting in November, talks will ensue concerning the possibility of monthly summits next semester. Other ideas to be discussed are the different host institutions, as well as the diversity of speakers.
“We are seeing young adults in Dallas who are extremely on fire for their faith, seeking active intentional community for their faith and embracing this evangelical zeal for mission and charity,” said O’Brien. “We have the opportunity today to make a lasting impact at UD, or as Dallas, as a whole … I am excited for the future, I am excited for Summit, and I am excited for the Church.”