Over the past few months, I’ve talked about the Rebuild His Church campaign and the multifaceted impact that the Newman Center has on the spiritual and day-to-day lives of our students. The campaign is truly an investment in the Catholic Church’s future in central Maine and in the lives of our University of Maine students who look to the Newman Center as their spiritual home away from home while on campus.
Campaign funds will secure and improve our physical structures, ultimately preserving them for generations to come. In and of itself, this is a tremendous goal that impacts our students, but there is much more that the campaign is doing that benefits campus ministry beyond the walls of the Newman Center and outside of the campus.
Most other Newman Centers across the county are stand-alone structures, meaning that their chapels, their programs, and to some extent, their reach, is confined to a particular campus and its student population. Here at UMaine, we are blessed in that the Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord includes not just the Newman Center (Our Lady of Wisdom), but also Holy Family, St. Ann-Penobscot Nation, and St. Ann-Bradley.
These diverse churches give our students the opportunity to get off campus without venturing far from their beliefs. They attend Mass at the other churches, they serve, pray and participate in a myriad of activities that these churches are involved with – everything from helping at the Food Pantry in Old Town and Bradley to donating items to Shepherd’s Godparent home, which supports pro-life alternatives for young pregnant women in crisis, and the McAuley Residence, which helps women in recovery from substance abuse. Our students are there when we celebrate the birthdays of parishioners who are turning 100 and when we are welcoming our youngest members through the sacrament of Baptism. In essence and in practice, students are becoming an integral part of the life of our parish and are learning how to live in a community of faith.
The Rebuild His Church campaign is securing the future of these spaces as well, conducting urgent exterior maintenance on Holy Family Church, which was built in 1903; repaving, re-roofing part of and complying with ADA requirements at St. Ann Church-Bradley; and conducting needed maintenance while ensuring historic designation compliance at St. Ann Church-Penobscot Nation, which was built in 1820.
Worshipping in these very different settings is something that our students find meaningful, and the variety of churches allows them to truly find the worship home that speaks to them for those times when they just need to get away campus without leaving their faith behind.
We are blessed to have the ability to address these urgent needs as we build a place that our students will call home – now and for generations to come.