Twenty years ago, Victor M. Resendiz visited the SMU campus in Dallas with a couple of friends after a soccer game.

“Walking around, I made a mental note: this would be a great place for me, if I ever went to college,” he said. “But at the time, college was not an option.”

Resendiz, 41, is originally from Mexico City.  In his early 20s, family expectations and finances were not aligned for him to attend college. He and his parents weren’t aware of scholarships or of bilingual resources that might have paved the way for him.  But the seed was planted.

“God granted me that thought,” he said. “I didn’t realize it was actually a prayer. It was a dream come true for me to come to SMU.”

Resendiz is now an M.A.M. student in Perkins’s Houston-Galveston Extension program, expecting to graduate in May. He’s pursuing a path toward ordination as a deacon. Attending the Houston-Galveston program has worked out well while he’s worked full-time as an associate pastor at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church, a large congregation in Houston.

“I lead a social justice ministry and a ministry that teaches contemplative spirituality,” he said. “After I finish my degree, my next goal is to attend the Certificate in Spiritual Direction program at SMU and continue my education in that area.”

Resendiz calls himself “a late bloomer,” having come to church and his calling later in life. After high school, he married and worked at a bank. But then there was a difficult divorce, and he became discontented with his corporate job. “That’s when I started to realize that higher learning needed to be part of my future,” he said. At the same time, he started to search for God and for a church that would offer a sense of peace.

He connected with Chapelwood United Methodist Church in Houston and helped start a youth ministry there. He became interested in contemplative spiritual practice, started to learn about it and practice on his own.

“I didn’t just want to sit and listen to sermons on Sunday mornings,” he said. “Something called me to furthering my studies and deepening the meaning of what I believed.”

Five years later, during a labyrinth walk, he felt the call to ministry. Memorial Drive UMC hired him and gave him free rein to start a contemplative spiritual ministry, which he has led for six years.

“I think people are hungry to experience God’s presence, rather than to just have a lot of information about God,” he said. “Overall the church has moved away from spiritual practices and toward providing information and entertainment. People’s souls are still hungry.”

Resendiz notes that Jesus’s ministry was also rooted in contemplative spiritual practice:  prayer, solitude, silence, centering prayer.

Spiritual practice shapes his own daily routine, too. He wakes up each morning to Psalms 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.

“In that stillness, I enter God’s presence and tap into his guidance for whatever I’m going to do that day,” he said.

Resendiz connected to Perkins through his pastors at Memorial Drive UMC. Now, he looks back on his first visit to SMU, more than 20 years ago, as the first stirrings toward his intended path.

“SMU has been an incredible place to be a student and a part of,” he said. “lt has enriched my life as a person, and in my vocation. I just love being an SMU student.”