Collection shifts focus to Newman Center

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

The annual diocesan collection for Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, which began in 2015 and was held in February, will shift to the Newman Catholic Student Center on the Uni­versity of Iowa campus based on need.

The “Newman Center Surround, Support & Strengthen Appeal” will take place the second weekend of October each year through 2025. This year’s collection will be held Oct. 9-10.

Deacon David Montgomery, the diocese’s chancellor and chief of staff, referenced a recent PEW Research study in announcing the collection. “Those who participate in campus ministry are much more likely to remain in the faith and transition into active parish life following graduation.” The studies show that up to 80 percent of Catholics who leave the faith do so by age 23.

Newman Center Development Director April Rouner said campus ministry at secular universities makes a significant impact on the diocese and the Catholic Church by challenging students with greater responsibility and leadership, facilitating students’ transitions into and out of campus ministry, partnering with nearby parishes and providing mentor relationships for students and young adults.

She said the Newman Center “is committed to growing intimate relationships between the 7,000-plus UI Catholic students and Jesus Christ.” She describes Newman Centers as “a faith home-away-from-home for college students on secular campuses. We must have the ability and capacity to reach out to a large number of students to issue personal invitations to take part in campus ministries. It is imperative we continue strong outreach efforts to walk with students on their faith journeys during this very formative time in their lives.”

Newman Center is 100 percent self-funded through private donations, investment earnings and grants. Deacon Montgomery noted that, just as parishes were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Newman Center also experienced a significant negative impact on its operating income. Since reopening in late June 2020, church attendance diminished and so did on-going income streams with offertory, annual fund and the gala taking a hard hit.

However, the pandemic did not diminish students’ desire for fellowship and faith, Rouner said. “The COVID pandemic has highlighted to us, once again, young people are hungry for connection and thirsty for truth!” She encourages the faithful to give generously.

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‘Dead Man Walking’ author to speak at virtual event

Scott Langley
Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, will speak in a virtual event hosted by Newman Catholic Student Center at the University of Iowa-Iowa City on Oct. 21

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, will speak on “Becoming a Voice for Justice” during a livestream event Oct. 21, hosted by Newman Catholic Student Center at the University of Iowa-Iowa City. During the event, which will take place from 6:30-7:30 p.m., Sister Prejean will speak about activism, faithful citizenship and the death penalty.

“Sister Helen is a dynamic speaker and storyteller about activism, solidarity and justice,” said Laurie Harris, Newman Center’s business director. “She gives voice to the voiceless, advocates for the abolishment of capital punishment and working for justice. As our society struggles to come to terms with racial, social and economic inequality, the timing could not be better.”

Sister Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States,” has been a vocal opponent of the death penalty since she began working with inmates the early 1980s. Her book ignited a national debate on capital punishment and inspired an Academy Award-winning movie, a play and an opera, according to her website.

Over the decades, Sister Prejean has made personal appeals to two popes, John Paul II and Pope Francis, urging them to establish the Catholic Church’s position as unequivocally opposed to capital punishment under any circumstances. After Sister Prejean’s urging, Pope John Paul II revised the catechism to strengthen the church’s opposition to executions, although it allowed for a very few exceptions. Not long after meeting with Sister Prejean in August 2018, Pope Francis announced new language in the Catechism that declares the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person, with no exceptions.

To register for the event, go to www.iowa catholic.org. The event is free, thanks to the sponsorship of the Louise Wolf-Novak Service and Social Justice Endowment.

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