Monday, March 26, 2007

Some may boast of prowess bold
of the school they think so grand,
but there's a spirit can ne'er be told:
It's the spirit of Aggieland!
We are the Aggies -- the Aggies are we.
True to each other as Aggies can be.
We've got to fight boys, we've got to fight!
We've got to fight for Maroon and White!
After they've boosted all the rest,
they will come and join the best.
For we are the Aggies -- the Aggies so true, we're from Texas A.M.U.
The Spirit of Aggieland
Alma Mater of Texas A&M University


Yep. You've guessed it (if you didn't know already). I'm a maroon-bleeding Aggie. And, obviously, proud to be so.


As you read the words of the above, please keep in mind... A&M used to be an all-male, military institution. Hence, the "we've got to fight boys." And while that may no longer be true, there is one thing that definitely is true... There is a spirit there in my beloved "Aggieland." And it's a spirit that can't quite be described. As we used to say while I was in college, "From the inside looking out, it can not be explained. From the outside looking in, it can't be understood."


Now, what needs to be explained is 1) what in the world has possessed me to write about Texas A&M and 2) I understand the spirit of Aggieland on two levels... school tradition and Catholic presence. Let me first explain why I'm talking about A&M to begin with...


First, as some of you may know, Texas A&M made it to the NCAA "Sweet 16" for the first time since 1980 this year. I wasn't able to watch every game completely, but I watched the second half of several games... and read the sports page everyday to keep up with the team. You see, some of you may not know this, but I'm a HUGE fan of A&M basketball and football. I wish I could say baseball too, but I'm only a fan of high school baseball (yes, odd, but what else is new?). Anyway, our house here was filled with excitement as some of the Sisters joined me in routing for A&M... the Cinderella story of basketball. When we lost to Memphis by one point, in fact, I was watching the game with Sr. Laola... we had a blast, but were saddened by the loss. .


Secondly, three of us from our community are preparing to go to College Station, Texas (otherwise known as "Aggieland") over Palm Sunday weekend to meet with a young women's discernment group. You see... not only is A&M a land of tradition and school pride... it is a fervent ground for spiritual development..


Now a few words about the spirit of Aggieland. While I was in school, A&M was considered to be Texas' friendliest campus. This might still be true today, but I'm not sure if people still talk about as much as they did while I was a student. A&M is steeped in tradition. One tradition is that Aggies say "Howdy!" to all that they see... on campus or not. So, it's not unusual to be walking on campus and someone acknowledges your presence by smiling and saying, "Howdy." It's also a way that many speakers begin their public addresses... and the crowd responds, "Howdy!" Some visiting priests to the Catholic Center (and the bishop of the Diocese of Austin) begin their homilies by saying "Howdy." It's a fun tradition. Other traditions include different yells for each class year. Everytime something good happens or an Aggie wishes to show support for something, there is a distict way that it's done -- dependant on whether the person is a first year student, sophomore, junior, or senior/graduate. For those who are seniors or who have graduated, the yell (called a "wildcat") is "WHOOP!".


Okay... that's enough Aggie tradition for one post. However, if you're interested, please see the Texas A&M website at http://www.tamu.edu/..


Now on to the other Spirit in Aggieland... that is the fervor that surrounds St. Mary's Catholic Center located approximately 1 block north of the A&M campus. .


St. Mary's Catholic Center was my home away from home during my 4 years as a student at A&M. It was also the first place I worked as a college campus minister after leaving teaching, but before entering the Sisters. So, believe me when I say, there is no place quite like St. Mary's.The former director of campus ministry there (and pastor of the Church for 13 years) is a graduate of Notre Dame... he used to say, "There are more active, Catholic Aggies here at St. Mary's than there are active Catholics at Notre Dame." He was very proud of that... as were we.


Not only is there a lot going on (retreats, prayer groups, discernment groups, RCIA and confirmation classes, a Catholic sorority, Knights of Columbus, service groups, Bible studies, small Christian communities...), but it's the spirit that underlies everything that makes it different from other campus ministries.
There are nearly 100 "Aggie Vocations" to the priesthood and religious life; and in the last nine years alone, 75 Aggies have entered seminaries, convents and monateriers around the world. In addition, this year 14 former students, a record number, have entered formation for the priesthood and religious life. However, instead of listing everything about this place, I encourage you to go to the St. Mary's Catholic Center website at: www.aggiecatholic.org. Check it out for yourself.


Anyway, it's no wonder I'm excited about going back to College Station this weekend. Not only will I be able to share this place with 2 of my Sisters, but we will be able to make a connection with the discernment group and with others who might be interested in learning more about who we are.


College Station, Texas may not be very big or exciting by some people's standards... but, it will always hold a special place in my life... it was the place where my spirituality was cultivated, my love for God and ministry nurtured, and my vocation fostered. .


Indeed, there's a spirit can ne'er be told...


Many blessings on whoever reads this!
Gig'em and God bless!
Sr. N