Serving the NDSU campus as a "home away from home" for students making the transition into adulthood; preparing them to receive the gift of their vocation and equipping them to live a dynamic Catholic life.
Catholic campus ministry has played an important role at NDSU since 1928, when 36 students came together to form the Catholic Students’ Club. Today, that ministry is thriving at St. Paul’s Newman Center, where thousands of students have actively engaged and benefitted from a holistic Catholic formation – encouraging them in their pursuit of such virtues as chastity, sobriety, and excellence, so much needed in today’s society and culture.
As a “home-away-from-home,” the Newman Center not only tends to the daily spiritual needs of students, but also provides a place for hundreds of students to form faith-based relationships every day. Through our hugely successful FOCUS campus ministry program, the Newman Center provides opportunities for YOUTH to minister to YOUTH – with over 70 student-led bible studies on campus, men’s and women’s groups, and various social activities every week.
Without the presence of the Newman Center on campus, much would be lost. Our future leaders would have no guidance in their pursuit of virtue, nor would they have a “home” to come to when the epidemic of moral problems, such as pre-marital sex, drug and alcohol addictions, pornography, and same-sex unions, push themselves upon our students and they have nowhere else to turn. Finally, amidst rampant poverty and greed, there would be no stewardship of time, talent, and treasure, except in the pursuit of self-fulfillment. God has blessed us profusely with this opportunity to spread the Gospel and carry on the legacy of the Catholic Faith through many generations.
“If then a practical end must be assigned to a University course, I say it is that of training good members of society... It is the education which gives a man a clear, conscious view of their own opinions and judgements, a truth in developing them, an eloquence in expressing them, and a force in urging them. It teaches him to see things as they are, to go right to the point, to disentangle a skein of thought to detect what is sophistical and to discard what is irrelevant.” ― Cardinal John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University
When 36 students formed the Catholic Students Club at North Dakota Agricultural College Fargo in 1928, their aim was to provide a way to get better acquainted and promote "religious interests." Today, hundreds of Catholic students annually participate in the various programs offered by St. Paul's Newman Center at North Dakota State University.
The Center derives its name both from one of the greatest of all saints - The Apostle St. Paul - and also from Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th -century English convert and theologian, who thought it important to foster the religious development of young Catholics attending secular schools: "The Idea of a University" ( http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/). No two better patrons could be found for modern day university students striving to live holy lives in the reality of Christ Jesus.
Fr. James Cheney is the fourteenth in a line of Newman Center directors stretching back to Fr. Leo Dworschak, an assistant at St. Anthony's Church in Fargo who started the club in 1928. It was the first relgious organization formed at what later became NDSU: Fr. Dworschak would go on to become the fourth bishop of Fargo.
For years, the Newman Club had no resident chaplain. Local parish priests advised and guided the group in addition to their regular duties, and an old white house on the side of the present Center served as a meeting place. In 1948 a new chaplain, Fr. Edward Arth, directed the building of a quonset hut next door to the old House to give the Newman Club its first permanent home, but, the simple Quonset Chapel, which sat about 200 people, was destroyed by the F-5 tornado of June 1957.
With the Catholic student population rapidly growing, the time had come for a bigger and more functional facility. Bishop Dwarschak and the Center's first resident chaplain, Fr. William Durkin, broke ground for the current facility in 1958. The $250,000 complex included a stone-and brick faced chapel, a student lounge with stereo and TV, a social hall, offices, conference rooms and apartments for resident priests. The chapel was enlarged and re-dedicated in 1976. Today the same structure continues to serve. In many different ways Newman is at a crossroads, due to the many blessings on our campus ministry program. It's success causes us to look to the future for continued growth for life changing ministries that we provide.