For The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — Back to school time is approaching and the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City is gearing up to welcome students to the University of Iowa this month. Christine Wissink, the Newman Center’s director of Outreach and Education, has spent the summer working with the center’s student leaders and the university to plan a schedule of events and outreach activities for OnIowa and Welcome Week.
“This is such an important and critical time for the Newman Center to be visible on campus,” she says. “The first connections students make in college can determine their path. Being new to campus, students are vulnerable. Our goal is to connect them to a thriving Catholic community of their peers. We want to show them the joy, energy and purpose that being a part of a faith community brings to their college experience.”
The center will host two events during OnIowa. On Aug. 17, “Bump, Set, Spike,” features a fun evening of volleyball on the Pentacrest. On Aug. 18, the center celebrates the traditional 9 p.m. Thursday night student Mass, affectionately called TNM. A night of kickball will follow. The center will also participate in the Graduate Student Information Fair on Aug. 17 and the Religious and Spiritual Student Organization Ice Cream Social on Aug. 20.
Newman Center’s Welcome Week 2022 plans for the first week of classes include first day of school photo opportunities, welcome gifts for incoming students and a New Student Event on Aug. 26. “All of our staff, student leaders and FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) Missionaries are engaged in outreach to welcome students,” Wissink says. “We want to meet students where they are, help them connect to our community and start to build relationships grounded in faith.”
As students experience their first years away from home and take responsibility for their faith journey, the Newman Center helps in the transition by offering ways for students to connect with each other and participate in a faith community throughout their college career.
“Our Newman community is well-equipped to share the Catholic faith and bring evangelistic passion into the daily lives of students. We are excited to expand our FOCUS mission team for the 2022-2023 academic year. We want to connect with students spiritually and as a community,” said Father Jeff Belger, priest director of the Newman Center. In addition to Mass, students are invited to participate in Bible study, retreats, service events, faith formation and community building activities.
The Newman Center provides a Catholic faith community for those associated with the university. Students are engaged in planning and leading ministry through liturgical ministry, music, faith formation, service and social justice, Catholic Relief Services University (CRS), outreach, communications and graduate student and young professional ministry. Wissink says, “Our goal is to prepare them as disciples for the Church and the world by giving them opportunities to learn, grow and lead during their time with us so they can be active and engaged faithful Catholics in their future parish, workplace and community.”
The Newman Center is 100% self-funded with private contributions from individuals and businesses. If you would like to support Welcome Week 2022 outreach activities, mail gifts to the Newman Catholic Student Center Attn: Welcome Week, 104 E Jefferson St., Iowa City, IA 52245. Visit the center’s online giving page at www.iowacatholic.org and click on the “Support Us” button. For more information on becoming a Newman Center partner, please contact Kristie Wert, director of Development at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (319) 337-3106, ext. 119.