From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Campus ministry at state universities centers around Newman ministry

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Oct. 3, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

The two Newman Centers, at Washington State University in Pullman and Eastern Washington University in Cheney, are in full operation now with the start of the new school year.

So what’s new at the Newman Centers?

For starters, WSU’s center has a new pastor and the EWU center has a new chapel.

Father Steve Werner officially started his assignment at St. Thomas More Newman Center in Pullman July 1. WSU’s classes started Aug. 26. About 800 WSU students are registered as Catholic.

Father Werner said the schedule and programs currently in place will continue. Masses are celebrated on Sunday evenings at 7, on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m., and on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:15 p.m.

His first major project is the RCIA confirmation preparation that began at the end of September. In addition, two SEARCH retreats are held, one in October and another in the spring.

Theology on Tap, a “very informal” get-together at a local pub, brings priest and students together for discussion “on their turf,” he said. “Tuesdays at Tommie’s” brings priest and students together at the student center to cook a meal and talk.

Father Werner is spending time right now “trying to get to know the students,” he said. One way he chose to do that is to eat a meal each week at the residence dining halls, where the freshmen and sophomore students live. His meal stops were noticed and mentioned in the Evergreen, the campus newspaper. “That was one of the pluses of my first week,” Father Werner said.

The priest is no stranger at WSU. He spent six years at the school earning a master’s degree in food science. He received the degree in 1992.

Besides bringing his familiarity with the campus, Father Werner’s personal assets include a people-pleaser named Sam: his yellow female Labrador dog. “People like her,” he said.

Father Werner will not have any additional ministry staff for the time being. Kathy O’Connell is the full-time office manager. She does all the administrative chores, which, said Father Werner, “is a real asset to me and to the community.”

The Pullman center is open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. The phone number is (509) 332-6311.

Over at Cheney, Eastern’s classes began Sept. 25. Tara Young-Brown is starting her third year as the center’s director.

Catholic students in Cheney will worship in a new, much larger chapel. Volunteers from the Cheney parish community pitched in to help create a worship space from what had once been a garage. In the meantime, Young-Brown has scrambled in the last couple of weeks before school started, finishing last-minute details.

About $6,000 was raised last spring through a combination of grant funding and private donations to pay for the conversion project.

The new chapel’s dedication is scheduled Sunday, Oct. 6, with a parish open house and barbecue at 3 p.m., the dedication at 6:30, and Mass at 7. Bishop William Skylstad will be Mass celebrant for the occasion. The first Mass in the new chapel was celebrated Sept. 22 by Father Tom Caswell, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Cheney and regular celebrant of the Newman Center Masses.

In mid-September Young-Brown led a leadership retreat for the five members of the Newman Center council. Like Father Werner ini Pullman, she is planning a SEARCH retreat for students in November.

She will be starting Theology on Tap at a local Cheney pub and has invited professors from Gonzaga University to attend. Cheney students get together on Wednesdays to cook a meal and have a Bible study.

Another retreat that Young-Brown plans for this winter is what she called a “Busy Students’ Retreat,” an introduction to spiritual direction based on the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyla. Students making the week-long retreat meet for four hours at the beginning. They make a promise to pray half an hour each day and to meet daily with a spiritual director. Retreatants come together a second time to end the retreat.

Other events include an ecumenical, student-directed pilgrimage on Lake Coeur d’Alene, and a Monday Night Football get-together.

Newman Center hours at Cheney are Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday, 3-10 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Phone number is (509) 235-8402.

Both Young-Brown and Father Werner extend an open invitation to students, and any other interested persons, to drop in for a visit.

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