Over the past few months, we shared what the Newman Center means to the students who attend the University of Maine in Orono. They view it as a home away from home. It’s a place to build friendships, share a meal, and develop leadership skills.
Most importantly, it’s a place where they can find God within the often hectic experience of college life as they nurture their evolving faith. Across the diocese, the Newman Center is seen as a place that develops tomorrow’s Catholic leaders.
Fr. Seamus Griesbach, Vocations Director for the Diocese of Portland, explains, “The Newman Center at the University of Maine is the flagship of all ministry we do within the state for college-age Catholics. We can do so much more for students here than we can in other parts of the diocese. A lot of that’s because we have a facility.”
Obviously, there’s more to try and improve. There has been a presence here on campus, a place where Catholics can gather, pray, study, and just build community together. That does not exist, really, on any other campus. The Newman Center was constructed in 1969. It supported students through all of those years.
What do they, & we, hope the Newman Center can provide in the future?
A re-envisioned center allows this flourishing, active community of young adults to grow and thrive. It also allows us a properly centered worship space that shows our students by design and example how to put God quite literally at the center of their lives.
The open design of the space today means that we cannot have simultaneous events. Whether Wednesday evening suppers, Bible study, Men’s and Women’s groups, Mass, or Adoration. The sound from one area travels to the next.
Since our building was not designed for our rugged Maine winters, the new design corrects longstanding issues. For example, large expanses of glass that make the space difficult to heat in cold weather. Sanctuary steps make it challenging for older parishioners to navigate and impossible for those in wheelchairs to participate. A flat roof allows snow to seep into the structure and cause damage.
How can we as a community come together to accomplish these goals to Rebuild His Church?
I ask that you visit our campaign site to learn more about our plans to Rebuild His Church. Listen to the words of our students and faith community. Consider opportunities to give. Keep in mind and heart the work we do here.