Yours are the hands with which He blesses the world, part 7

by Susan Moses

North Texas Catholic

September 6, 2017

1 John 4:20 says true love of Christ pushes one to extend that love to others.

Debbie Neely is the last of seven profiles representing many other individuals throughout our 28-county diocese who are willing to be what St. Teresa of Avila calls the hands and feet of Christ.

Featuring all the ministers, volunteers, youth, and other unsung “laborers” in our diocese would be impossible, but for those silent servants, we at the NTC thank you profoundly for your witness and your love in action.

Fanning sparks in Wichita Falls

Debbie Neely (NTC photo/Jayme Shedenhelm)


WICHITA FALLS — No matter where you are from, you’ll feel at home when you walk into the Catholic Center at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.

About 30 colorful flags hang from the ceiling, including the flag from your home country, even if you are from Nigeria or Guam or Dominica. Campus Ministry Director Debbie Neely makes sure your country is represented.

Underneath the flags, comfortable sofas encourage students to hang out and connect with their peers. With no TV, conversations happen.

“Having a place to have the stillness to talk about God and listen to God is vitally important in the middle of all the other busyness that happens in college and the other distractions that can pull somebody away all the time,” explained Neely.

In the relaxed, comfortable setting, students raise questions, lower facades, and realize they have similar struggles.

According to Neely, financial stress and managing the responsibilities of school and work are common problems. But away from home for the first time, these students grapple with much bigger questions: Who am I? What do I value? What is God calling me to do?

About 200 students each year search for answers in the context of Mass, fellowship meals, retreats, prayer meetings, and other faith-enriching activities at the Catholic Center. An annual mission trip to Guatemala provides exposure to the global Church and builds solidarity as they visit the sick in humble homes or play soccer with schoolchildren.

With 16 years in campus ministry, Neely understands the importance of this stage of faith development. “A lot of students walk away from their faith in college. Being at a public campus and having college students who walk through our door — I just celebrate that. It means they think ‘there’s something about this [faith] I need to continue as I’m growing into a young adult.’

“It’s them beginning to be a part of a Christian community that they choose. Then, if they have a positive experience, they can go on and replicate that in a parish and not just attend Mass on Sunday but be in a small faith community when they graduate.”

WICHITA FALLS — No matter where you are from, you’ll feel at home when you walk into the Catholic Center at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.

Published (until 9/7/2030)
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