Mark Weathers, a third-year student at Brite Divinity School, is nearing his end on TCU’s campus after making quite an impact over the last few years.
Weathers received his undergraduate degree in theology from Abilene Christian University in 2005. Nearly six years later, he found himself desiring realignment with his faith, which ultimately brought him to Brite and TCU.
According to TCU’s website, “TCU is the largest of 14 colleges and universities associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a denomination committed to demonstrating true community, deep Christian spirituality and a passion for justice.”
Currently seeking his master’s degree in Divinity, Weathers has found a way to keep up with his studies while also providing a positive impact on campus. Weathers currently serves as part of the campus ministry team for TCU Catholic Community, despite growing up in a Protestant home.
Even with his upbringing into the Disciples of Christ, Weathers was raised by a father that he said “definitely had closet Catholic tendencies.”
Weathers mentioned that his joining Catholic Community came as a big surprise.
“Father Charlie spoke with Steve Sprinkle at Brite Divinity School, and he just essentially said here’s the job description and these are the types of candidates that we’re looking for,” Weathers said. “And Steve Sprinkle said, ‘Well, I think we’ve got a guy…but he’s Protestant.’”
Fr. Charles Calabrese is currently the director of campus ministry at TCU, while Rev. Steve Sprinkle is a professor of practical theology at Brite.
After Weathers completed an interview and met with members of Catholic Community’s adult board, Calabrese offered Weathers a job, but it took Weathers about 48 hours to accept.
In his work with Catholic Community, Weathers reaches out to students in a variety of different ways, whether it is simply inviting them to grab a cup of coffee or having in-depth theological discussions with them.
“There’s a lot to be done as far as student outreach and further program development, based on some programming that was in place last year,” Weathers said. “The mentoring program is one example of that.”
Along with outreach and programming, Weathers is involved with TCU Awakening, a Christian retreat sponsored by Catholic Community that is designed “to bring each person closer to God, and to bring us communally closer to each other,” according to the retreat’s website.
Most recently, Weathers gave a sermon at Robert Carr Chapel for Brite’s “A Service of Word & Table” series. He spoke on “The Lyrics Our Spirits Can’t Sing,” incorporating hip-hop group Salt-n-Pepa into his message about overcoming obstacles.
“It [was] just an appreciated voice to keep faith honest through the difficulties of life as much as the joys,” second-year Brite student Stephen Ferris said after the sermon.
This semester is expected to be Weathers’ last with Catholic Community as he nears his graduation date. When asked what’s next for him, he was pretty frank.
“Job searching is definitely on the horizon,” Weathers said. “I’m most interested in working with a parish or a congregation. I’m also open to working in a hospital or hospice chaplaincy. I’m actually pursuing both of those things right now.”
Weathers is also undergoing the ordination process with the Disciples of Christ.
“I’m midway through the ordination process with the Disciples of Christ, which is essential to working in a Christian church context,” Weathers said.
“It looks different in every denomination and, in the Disciples of Christ, it starts by essentially getting a congregation who knows you and who knows your character, your experience with ministry to kind of support you in this ongoing process,” Weathers said.
Below is a map of 14 colleges and universities associated with the Disciples of Christ, including TCU.
According to fccville.org, ordination is the acknowledgement that a person has a calling from God.
Weathers said his ordination process is divided into three tiers that can take anywhere from a year to three years.
“That final third tier is the ordination interview in which they want to see if you have the theology and the giftedness and the seriousness, not just to do ministry but do so in a way that bears the mark of the Disciples of Christ movement,” Weathers said.
Whether he completes his ordination or finds a different path in life, Weathers made it clear that he’s keeping himself open to different avenues, much like he did with Catholic Community.
“I’m juggling a few balls, trying to keep myself as open as possible to possibilities that I haven’t considered yet,” Weathers said. “If the last year has given me any theme, it’s that life surprises you and sometimes when you’re open to surprises, good things happen.”