During my Pastoral Year in 2014, some of my most significant conversations happened in the St. Thomas More Newman Center’s parking lot at Missouri University. It had been a surprisingly good year for Mizzou on the football field, and the excitement extended across campus and the rest of town. The Newman Center parking lot is used for tailgating on game days. I worked the lot–dressed in habit and (of course) a Red Sox hat. The tailgaters are a mixed bag–devout Catholics, fallen-away Catholics, other Christians, people of other faiths altogether, and even a few atheists. When I came to Mizzou, I was not looking forward to working the lot. I saw it as a menial task, and I felt that I had more important, ministerial things to do with my time. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
This may not come as a shock to you, but a guy in a habit walking around a tailgate lot stirs up quite a bit of conversation. People were curious as to who I was and what I was doing there. Conversations rarely ended there, though. More often than not, the conversation would shift into the realm of faith–people shared with me not only hot dogs but questions, struggles, and deeply meaningful stories from their personal lives. As I got to know the lot regulars, conversations began to build–an atheist now rethinking his position; a man considering returning to the Sacrament of Confession after decades of being away; another reconnected with his face and returned to Mass. Who knows what other seeds have been planted to be cultivated by the Holy Spirit?
Discover more about St. Thomas More Newman Center.