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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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John 15 goes beyond teaching faith for freshmen

Photo by Jonathan Taffet

Jenny Lynn Pezel gives a talk to freshmen at St. Mary’s Catholic Center on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023.

Established in 2015 at St. Mary’s Catholic Center, student community John 15 gives freshmen a place and people to call home during a year in their lives that is full of change.

The organization has grown from hosting 100 to 600 students every Thursday night at St. Mary’s. Students meet to participate in activities, perform small service projects from time to time and open a conversation about living out their faith on campus and beyond. Students can find Christian-centered communities and authentic relationships through their involvement.

Campus Ministry Director Mark Knox comments on the benefits of John 15. Knox said the organization can have a lifelong impact by teaching lessons to students that will be used throughout the rest of their lives.

“It also gives them a network of friends, classmates, roommates and people that may live in the same city as them in the future,” Knox said. “Overall, [it is] just a community that they can rely on. I think it also teaches them how to be future husbands and wives, neighbors, youth ministers, nurses and doctors and to go into the world and bring love with them.” 

While the organization prides itself on community, it would not be possible without the faith it is founded on. Knox said the community found in John 15 reveals opportunities for them to grow in virtue and learn more about the Catholic Church.

“Authentic friendship is the heart of John 15,” Knox said. “It opens the doors to a willingness or a desire to be in a relationship with the Lord.”

Industrial engineering junior Erin Lieb, the community coordinator on executive staff, stated that the activities and events that they plan for students are not what one might anticipate. 

“It’s more fun than you would expect,” Lieb said. “A lot of people might think that a religious organization is not much fun. But we do so many normal events, like playing sports and going to the lake. There is a good community here, and I wouldn’t want anyone to rule it out.” 

Executive staff will soon begin selecting leaders for next year, Lieb said. They are in search of a variety of different personality types to accommodate all the social needs of the new freshman class.

“We will start interviewing for the next exec[utives] at the end of February,” Lieb said. “In everyone, we are looking for a desire to serve the freshmen. We are also looking for people who have a passion for their faith and for walking with others in their faith. There is room for every personality.”

Architecture freshman Madeline Rejda, member of John 15, said she is heavily involved because there is so much to offer, and that her small group feels like a family.

“They have optional events pretty much everyday, and we have house events and community events monthly,” Rejda said. “I see my small group leaders everywhere! It’s more like a family dynamic.”

Rejda also said that John 15 has provided her with mentors as she transitions into college, which has been helpful for adapting to the College Station lifestyle.

“We have our group leaders and our house leaders, who are all older than us,” Rejda said. “We can go to them with any questions. Since they’ve already been through what we’re going through, it’s super awesome to have those role models that share faith with us and can guide us.

Knox said that John 15 improves compassion in students by teaching them how to love.

“If you can find a group of like-minded students that actually care about each other, that will form you into a person that cares about other people too,” Knox said. “Ultimately, the world needs a lot more love. And there’s a lot of people that don’t know how to love because they haven’t been loved first.”

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