Black Bear Catholic is the student government organization associated with the Newman Center, the Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord, and the Diocese of Portland. Yet this group of enthusiastic student leaders is so much more than that: they are literally the hands and feet of Christ, welcoming fellow college students into friendship and faith through a myriad of activities including prayer, service, and community offerings.
“Black Bear Catholic organizes events that bring in new students…anyone who wants to show up is welcome,” explains Kacey Roehrich, BBC Treasurer. Those events include Wednesday & Sunday night suppers, Men’s and Women’s Group on Sunday evenings, opportunities for Mass and Adoration throughout the week, and community events for men and women as well as specific events for men and women individually.
As Men’s Group Leader, Chris Smith explains, while the basis of the group is for faith sharing, it becomes even more as relationships grow among the participants and their faith matures. “The whole point is just to have a discussion. I can have 5 questions and for the hour we might only get to the first question,” Chris emphasizes. “It’s really just a time for men to get together and foster a brotherhood in Christ.”
That collaboration with others and the skills honed in that developmental process are building the next generation of leaders. “I think it’s definitely given me a lot of guidance in leadership abilities in showing me how to be a leader, but it’s also offered me the opportunity to grow as a person and as a Catholic,” notes Erin McDowell, BBC President.
BBC and the Newman Center are blessed in that participation is growing!
Matt Leffel, in his fourth year as a FOCUS Missionary at UMaine, notes: “Seeing it grow from just a President and Vice President to them actually having enough for a full exec board to now with all the appointed positions filled and this year having more students who want to be involved and bring their leadership skills to this community; that’s been something cool to see.”
That growth has created a space crunch in a building designed to serve multiple purposes, that is now stretched too thin to do any of them well. “There’s always something happening at the Newman Center. It’s fun to come down here, get a group together, either study or hang out, play games. Having a new Newman Center would give us dedicated spaces for meetings and hosting various social and service related events.” Kacey says.
“The building right now is not set up for when people enter to be really entering into the presence of God,” notes Campus Minister Audrey Aylmer. “So when we say our mission is to help people center their lives around how we imitate Christ, they don’t see that when they walk in. The Newman Center is a really vibrant place, and it has so much more potential to grow if we have the space to dream big.”