The past year left many of us feeling depleted in so many ways. One place where UMaine students can always come for a free meal on Wednesdays, Sundays, and welcome conversation all week long is the Newman Center.
“When I looked at colleges I looked at where I could go to church because that was important to me,” explains BBC Treasurer Kacey Roehrich, “I saw the University of Maine had the Newman Center. They said that’s where they have free meals. They have Mass. I figured I’d come down here my first weekend. I’ve come here every weekend since.”
“A lot of my job revolves around making a really welcoming atmosphere where people can come in every Sunday and every Wednesday night to have supper. A free meal, for college students to sit down around a table, have great conversations, laugh, and eat some good food,” says Audrey Alymer, Campus Minister.
Simply feeding students isn’t always enough to get them to come to the table. That’s where a personal invitation makes all the difference. Fortunately, many students and our FOCUS Missionaries offer that personal touch.
“Nina, one of the FOCUS Missionaries, invited me to one of the dinners after Mass. It was really nice that she extended that invitation. It made me feel more welcome,” notes Emily Boutin, UMaine Grad Student, “The Newman Center has that community feeling where you feel really welcomed. Especially because Nina reached out, it means even more to have the invitation.”
Breaking bread as a means of fostering meaningful friendships has a long history in our faith. Jesus himself brought people together with food. He’s the perfect role model. The Newman Center offers the ideal place to get together in a community with students who share similar values. Blessedly, these events draw a large number of students, one of the reasons why we need to reconfigure our building.
“It’s a great opportunity to see people throughout the week who might only see each other on weekends otherwise. It’s always a good time,” Kacey notes.
As Audrey explained, the space adjacent to the kitchen normally seats 15 on couches. Feeding around 50 students for dinners, the joyful noise spills over into our open worship area. It makes it impossible to schedule concurrent events, whether Mass or Bible studies. The fellowship and the difference it makes in students’ lives is well worth it.
“Before college, I was really shy and awkward. Through the Newman Center and the people I met here, I’ve definitely come out of my shell. I’ve become a stronger Catholic,” Kacey says.
Want to hear about their ministry from those who put these suppers together & those who attend?