At the DCC we believe that discipleship is following Christ side by side with each other. All of our ministry staff sets aside many hours each week to meet up individually and regularly with students. Connecting with students in this way is one of our favorite parts of our job

We are so lucky to have Mario Dance on our team who also is a resource for our students, particularly our students of color. Mario hosts virtual office hours twice a week to talk with any of our students about their life.

Mario has worked both as a veterinarian and a missionary and currently serves full time as a Mission supervisor with St. Paul’s Outreach. He has so much wisdom and love of Christ to share with our community!

If you were asked to give a TED talk tomorrow, what would you speak about?

I would call the talk “Naked Without Shame: the value of holy and vulnerable friendships”. I have been extremely blessed by the friends that God has brought into my life and they have been instrumental in teaching me about God’s love and have infused my soul with an abundance of joy, peace and health.

Someone or something from your faith (Scripture, Saint, prayer, etc.) that you find particularly inspiring?

I love the Saints and am especially fond of the martyrs. That someone would value our faith so much that they would make the ultimate sacrifice is totally motivational to me. My favorite friends in high places are St. Francis of Assisi, St. Martin de Porres, St. Charles Llwanga and the Martyrs of Uganda and St. Andrew Kim Taegon and the Korean Martyrs. 

One thing you love about being a Black Catholic OR anything else you’d rather share regarding your identity in Christ and how it relates to your racial, ethnic, and/or cultural identity? This could be a longer response.

The thing that I love about being a Black Catholic is rooted in the things I love most about being Catholic. God is brilliant and from the beginning of Christianity, the Holy Spirit worked to bridge the faith into many different cultures. I was born in Japan and my Godmother was Japanese and my Godfather was white. My mother is from Panama and my dad from the states…this means that from the very beginning of my life I’ve been swimming in a world that valued and celebrated cultural differences. The Catholic Church has done the same and I saw that in living color when I went to World Youth Day in Rome during the year 2000. There were Catholics there from every continent on earth, displaying every shade of skin tone and all speaking of the love of Christ in their own native language tongues. It was absolutely beautiful! As a Church, we’ve made our mistakes and we’ll continue to make them and we’ll still be, at our core, a reflection of the creativity and love of God.

Any encouraging words for someone who may be considering dropping in for your virtual office hours?

One of the best things that comes out of being involved in ministry for so long is that nothing surprises or shocks you anymore. The things that we keep in the dark only serve to poison us but the things we bring to the light lose their power over us. I love the Lord and I love the Church but being Catholic was something that I choose and not something that I grew up with. Because I choose it, I think I understand the faith better than most and I’m never afraid of those with questions, doubts or frustrations because I’ve faced a bunch of those myself in my journey to faith.