ORONO – Passers-by need only walk through the front doors and the “Rush Jesus” sign at the Newman Center on College Avenue in Orono to realize that this is a special place.
It has served as a gathering place for Catholic students at the University of Maine since 1946 but, more importantly, it has served as a spiritual home for active Catholics and non-Catholics to discover the beauty of faith, to take root in prayer, and cultivate their life of faith in the process.
It is a community that has inspired worship, service and generosity for decades, including a new anonymous donation of $ 1.25 million to the “Rebuild Your Church” campaign, which will fund the necessary renovation of the center among other parish projects.
“The Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord (of which the Newman Center is a part) is so grateful for this overwhelming and unexpected offer of financial support which will help many Catholics of today and tomorrow to live their faith fully and authentically”, declared Bro. Kyle Doustou, parish priest. “The Newman Center enables Catholics at the university and surrounding communities to participate in the sacred liturgy, to engage in bodily and spiritual works of mercy, and to put Christ at the center of our lives. That someone has appreciated this truth and made this contribution is a lesson in humility.
In recent years, the need for structural repairs and other improvements in parish buildings, especially the Newman Center, has become evident and has inspired the “Rebuild His Church” fundraising campaign which to date has raised over $ 2.6 million.
“With this donation, construction of the center can now begin in the spring,” said Dave DiNapoli, director of development for the Diocese of Portland. “The number of involvement and participation in the center continues to increase, and these projects will allow this Catholic presence to continue to flourish for generations to come. “
Among the many improvements underway at the center are:
· A new multipurpose space for meetings, ministries and fellowship;
· A calm and beautiful narthex where one can make the transition to the presence of God;
· Separate entrances to the chapel and the main hall;
· A chapel with a new sacristy, a tabernacle, an altar, an ambon and a main crucifix;
· A student lounge to encourage relaxation and community, including an outdoor patio extension;
· A Marian garden with a statue of Our Lady of Wisdom; and
· A bell from the steeple to ring out the joyful sound of the hour of mass throughout the neighborhood, reminding everyone that the Lord is calling us to him.
In addition, the other parish churches in Old Town, Bradley and Indian Island will undergo various upgrades, from structural repairs and painting to repaving of parking lots.
But the driving force behind the campaign is the Newman Center, home to Our Lady of Wisdom and Black Bear Catholic Church (www.blackbearcatholic.org), Masses, Bible studies, worship, community events, fellowship. and the enrichment of faith for the people. of all ages, but especially those enrolling in college directly across the avenue. Recent studies have shown that nearly 80 percent of young Catholics lose touch with their faith during their college years. This campaign, and this sacred place, aims to reverse this trend in its momentum.
“The positive impact of this campaign is revitalizing the faith and church experiences of our students,” said DiNapoli. “It really is a call to discipleship.
Masses at the center take place every Sunday at 11 a.m. (also at 6.15 p.m. during the school year) and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. : 30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesdays from 6.30 p.m. to 7.45 p.m.
In addition, students can enjoy a free meal every Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. (after mass at 6.15 p.m.). Special meals are also offered during the school year such as a Thanksgiving dinner the week before the break, Easter brunch and a Labor Day barbecue.
And student participation in service projects has been present since the day the center opened, as today’s black bears donate their time and talent to thrift stores, pantries, community dinners, Ronald McDonald House and special initiatives like Meals for Moms, which provides food for moms and families with newborn babies.
“We accompany the faithful throughout their academic careers, embrace the faith that seeks curiosity, provide social ministry and encourage the feeling of living a Catholic life at home and of service to the community as a whole,” said the father. Doustou. “No campaign could be more important than a campaign that preserves the very place where it happens and ensures that it exists to serve future generations.”
The campaign still needs support to reach its ultimate goal of $ 3.5 million. To learn more about the campaign, the Newman Center, and how you can help, visit www.blackbearcatholic.org/how-to-give.