The experience that changed lives

| August 3, 2011 | 0 Comments

Former, current and extended members of St. Paul’s Outreach share their views and memories.
The following are edited interviews originally conducted by St. Paul’s Outreach.

Andrew Kebe


Carmen Kebe


Andrew and Carmen Kebe

Met through SPO and have been married about six months. Andrew is on staff with SPO and Carmen is a part-time volunteer.

How did you connect with St. Paul’s Outreach?


I was at Ohio State and got connected to SPO through the summer program, the School of the New Evangelization. In Minnesota, I saw young people who were sharing all parts of their lives with each other and their faith was integrated with that. In comparison, a lot of people I was hanging out with — their faith was not as integrated with their life, and they were not focusing on the community aspect like SPO.


I was a student in Minnesota at the University of St. Thomas. I came from a small town and faith was important to my family, but it wasn’t as vibrant as the faith I experienced in SPO. I ended up with a roommate my freshman year who was a devout Christian, and she thought it would be a good thing for us to begin looking around at the different groups on campus. When we got to St. Paul’s Outreach and we went to one of their events, there was something about it that I was drawn to.

Why does SPO appeal to college students?


The relationships. Most groups you can join in college are temporary places for people to show up when they want to or be committed as they choose. There is depth to the relationships in SPO.


Relationships are huge — it’s where the bond has been formed in praying together, being on mission together, sharing meals and life and service and sports.

There is a ton of joy and richness, and vibrancy in life that others can see when they come in contact with us, whether it’s at an event or having them over to the household for dinner. A lot of us are getting married now from the Columbus chapter . . . .People are coming to these weddings and seeing how much we enjoy life and how we have joy around each other. It’s a witness. They see Christ in how we love one another.

Shelley Pavlas


Shelley Pavlas

Is a senior, this fall, who is studying accounting at the University of Minnesota and lives in an SPO community.

How did you get involved in SPO? 

I started going to on-campus Mass at the University of Minnesota and I loved that one extra Mass a week. One day when I was there, I met this girl named Annette,  and she was so warm and friendly. She started telling me about St. Paul’s Outreach and about the house of Catholic women that she lived in. About a week later, she invited me over to the house for dinner. I remember walking in the first time, and it was so warm and cozy. I kept coming to events after that dinner and I knew that I wanted to be a part of the household.

What is a day like in the Women’s House? 

We start in the morning, bright and early, 6:30 a.m. We gather in the dining room for breakfast. Then we head downstairs to our prayer room. Our morning prayer consists of Liturgy of the Hours, and then we sing a couple of praise and worship songs. After morning prayer together as a house, we all do personal prayer time for about 30 minutes or so. After prayer, we go off to our separate mission fields and try to bring Christ to our peers. At night, we come back together and have dinner together and share what happened throughout our day and how we were able to bring Christ to our friends and classmates. After dinner, we usually do homework.

Describe the mission in household.

Within our house, we have Women’s Nights. Women come over every couple of weeks to hear a speaker and share their lives together. Then we have this outreach part of mission where we get to know people in our classes and try to bring Christ to them.

What are the fruits of the household? 

The most important fruit of my household experience is my prayer life —  making prayer a habit.

Another fruit is the community life. One semester was really intense for me. The women I lived with were so loving, and they were always ready with listening ears and warm, sympathetic hearts. Those days, it was just like coming home to Christ.

Father Laird

Father Laird

Father Peter Laird

Is vicar general for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and president of St. Paul’s Outreach board.

Why did you get involved with SPO? 

You want to focus on the things that really make a difference. St. Paul’s Outreach is at the cutting edge of assisting college students living their faith. College can be a very difficult time . . . and SPO directs them to Christ.

Where would you like to see SPO in 2016?  

I’d like to see St. Paul’s Outreach faithful to its mission, but more expansive in its outreach. We have a simple, very core message: “How do I bring the Paschal Mystery into the life of college  students?” I think we do that very well, and we need to maintain a focus on that but to do so in a way that grows to college campuses across the country.

I think there are three things that are needed.

First, prayer. That God will continue to do this good work.

Second. It needs college students.

Third, it needs people who will support that work financially.

Father Cozzens

Father Cozzens

Father Andrew Cozzens

Teaches sacramental theology at the St. Paul Seminary. During the summers of 1989 and 1990, he lived in an SPO household in St. Paul, while attending Benedictine College in Hatchinson, Kan. After graduation, he served a year with NET Ministries and a year as an SPO staff member and campus evangelist, before entering the seminary. He was ordained in 1997.

How did you connect with SPO?

I found out about SPO through my sister who was on a NET Ministries team.

I had grown up in a pretty normal Catholic family and so I knew that it wasn’t right that [to] go out and get drunk on Saturday night and then get up and go to Mass on Sunday morning, that there was an inconsistency. When I met people from SPO who were really on fire with their faith and they were living a consistent Catholic life, I thought, “Oh, so that’s how I’m supposed to be living.” I realized that I couldn’t do it on my own. I wanted help, and I found household life.

What are your favorite SPO memories?

The beautiful thing about my first summer household experience was the first week sitting in the chapel during prayer time.

We were sitting in the chapel and praying and spending maybe 45 minutes of silence. I remember reading my Bible for five minutes and then I’d look at Jesus on the cross and try to pray and then I would look at my watch and it would be like 10 minutes had gone by. I looked around the room and everyone else was praying and I was thinking to myself, “Oh my, I’ve got 30 more minutes of this.”

But, as I began to learn how to pray, that time became very treasured time for me.

My experience in my first summer household was just so much fun. We just laughed a lot. We would laugh when we would do our own dishes and we’d do dishes for hours because our relationships were in Christ and that was a new thing for me. I didn’t realize how much joy there could be, compared to the things that I thought made joy, such as alcohol and parties and things.

Through my experience with the Lord and my relationship with SPO, I realized that life with Jesus was the thing that I most wanted. It made it easier to respond to my vocation.

Dan Moran


Dan Moran

Is senior vice-president of investments  with Merril Lynch in Bloomington. He is a board member and financial supporter of SPO. He holds degrees from St. Olaf College in Northfield and the Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute.

How and why did you get involved in SPO?

My first introduction to SPO was attending one of the banquets. Archbishop Harry Flynn was there and gave strong accolades about SPO. Students got up and gave their testimonies. One young man talked about how he was not making such great decisions, getting horrible grades, getting drunk. He stumbled upon SPO and his life made a 180-degree change.     . . .  His relationship with Jesus Christ grew.

A gal took the podium and gave a similar story about how her relationship with Jesus was strengthened and encouraged and deepened by living in a household with six other women.

Why support SPO?

As donors, [my wife] Cheryl and I want our money to make a difference. If we donate money to an organization, we want it to impact people’s lives. All you have to do is show up once a year to the banquet, hear the testimony and you get excited.

The other thing is, the future church is being formed right now by SPO on college campuses.

Every year, there are seniors who are graduating all across the country and those that have been involved with SPO are much better equipped to live out their faith. I think the fruits of that are that the graduates of SPO are more likely to be bringing their kids to church on Sundays, and hopefully tithing their income back to the church to keep the church alive.

Any favorite memories?

I gave my testimony to a University of Minnesota student group about how I attempt to live out my Christian faith every day in the investment world. I mentioned SPO in my talk, and after the talk, a student came running up to me and she lit up like a light bulb and said: “I’m involved in SPO, and it’s been the greatest thing in my life.” She was absolutely bubbling with enthusiasm. I left feeling grateful that I have the opportunity to be a donor to SPO and the privilege of being on the board.

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Category: St. Paul's Outreach