Catholic Newman Centers look to help, connect college students to their faith, community
May 23, 2023
University of Houston Catholic ministry Chaplain-Director Father Quang Nguyen celebrates Mass at the campus. (Photo courtesy of the Young Adult and Campus Ministry)
HOUSTON — A statistic shared in USA Today states more than 70% of college students will fall away from their faith if not supported during their first year. The Catholic Newman Centers provide support at colleges and universities in the Archdiocese to help decrease that statistic.
However, without financial support, the Newman Centers risk not being able to reach enough students to make a dent in that current trend.
Archdiocesan campus ministers at the University of Houston (UH), Texas Southern University (TSU), Rice University, Sam Houston State University and the Galveston Catholic Newman Center say they remain busy year-round providing support for students. This support includes not only spiritual nourishment but also physical.
Through a collaborative fundraising project, the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry and the Archdiocesan Development Office seek to engage parish communities and individuals who have witnessed firsthand the work carried out by the Newman Centers.
“With the help of alumni support and donations from philanthropic Catholics who want to make a lasting and positive impact on the future leaders of our Church, the Newman Centers’ vital ministry will continue to help these remarkable student-focused faith communities flourish for years to come,” said Angie Pometto, director, Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry.
Pometto said campus ministry is a place where students go to be fed spiritually by gathering for Mass, confession, Eucharistic adoration, as well as opportunities for spiritual growth and sense of community. It is also important that they are fed physically with a meal.
“Among the campuses in the Archdiocese, just a few of those events like the Sunday Supper, Thursday Lunch and Learns, and Feed Your Faith programs include both spiritual and physical nourishment for students,” she said.
Pometto said while it is true that many young people are falling away from their faith during their college years, it is also “such a beautiful reality of our faith that something as a simple as a community meal with fellowship can be the initial invitation that helps someone connect to faith and their campus’ spiritual community in a new way in college.”
UH Campus Minister Salisha Miller said their Newman Center is actively building an intentional community where students, staff and faculty can pray together, learn more about the Catholic faith, take steps to become a Catholic and find a spiritual family that will support them wherever they might be on their faith journey. During Easter, four young men visiting the center who completed RCIA at the UH center were welcomed into the Catholic Church.
“On any given day, we have, on average, 30 to 50 students that find rest and refuge here at the Newman Center,” she said.
Miller said the center is constantly bustling with students praying, studying together, and even using their time between classes to prepare community meals in the center’s galley kitchen.
The Newman Centers welcome both financial gifts and physical donations of food and meals to help support their outreach work.
“Campus ministry challenges my missionary heart to go out, encounter and engage students who may or may not be grounded in the faith,” said Doris Barrow, campus minister at TSU. “I have learned that God invites me daily to engage the students and treat every encounter as holy and sacred.”
Barrow said Mass is celebrated on Wednesdays at noon for students, faculty and staff at TSU.
“While we do not have a priest chaplain, the generosity of local priests in the Archdiocese to celebrate Mass on campus has been a blessing,” he said, adding there is lunch afterward for those attending.
Galveston Newman Center minister Carl Erikson, who works with Catholic Sea Aggies, College of the Mainland and other Galveston Island-area universities, said they are always in need of volunteers, leaders and donations to continue and increase their outreach.
“Musicians are welcome, as well as those who want to serve in Liturgy. There are also café-style Bible studies and doctrine discussions along with retreats and trips,” Erikson said.
To support the campus ministries, use text-to-give keywords (University of Houston - CATHOLICCOOGS, Texas Southern University - TXSUCATHOLIC, Sam Houston State University - BEARKATHOLIC, Galveston Newman Center - ISLANDCATHOLICS) to 41444 and follow the prompts to make a donation, or visit www.archgh.org/campusministry.
For more information, call the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry at 713-741-8778, email email@example.com or visit www.archgh.org/campusministry. †