Archbishop dedicates Newman Center at Troy University

Published 11:00 pm Monday, August 19, 2013

in Troy, Ala., Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

Troy University Board of Trustees members, Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins and Janice Hawkins, and Newman Center Supporters gather for a dedication ceremony Sunday.

Three hundred seventy-six students opened their new college home to guests on Sunday as the John Henry Cardinal Newman Center residence hall was dedicated on the campus of Troy University.

“We dedicate the Newman Center because it provides a purpose-filled setting beyond the classroom,” said Troy University Vice Chancellor for External Affairs John Schmidt.

The residence hall contains a 2,300-square foot Catholic student ministry center leased from the university’s foundation by the Catholic Archdiocese of Mobile. The center includes a chapel, an activity room and offices – one of which will be used by Rev. Den Irwin, pastor of St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church and designated campus priest. The center will host social events and Bible studies and there will be brief daily devotionals at 7:15 a.m. on weekdays.

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Sen. Gerald Dial, president pro tempore of the university’s Board of Trustees, said the Newman Center is a great example of a private-public endeavor.

“You are going to see people copying this all over the world,” Dial said.

Community director for the center, Kelsey Burgans, praised the students and parents who chose the Newman Center residence hall at Troy University.

“It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in, even when the world may tell you you are wrong,” Burgans said.

Archbishop Thomas Rodi was on hand for the dedication and blessing of the Mother Teresa Center within the Newman Center.

“Troy seeks to offer its students not only an education on how to make a living, but also an education on how to make a life,” Rodi said. “Part of our culture as Americans is to seek to learn about one another so that we not only grow in knowledge, but also in respect.”

Rodi said the Newman Center was not a place of indoctrination, but a place of understanding.

Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins told those gathered for the ceremonies that, continually, about 70-75 percent of students surveyed on campus noted that faith was important to them.

“We are very sensitive to separation of church and state issues,” Hawkins told media after the event. “Hopefully we will have students of many faiths here like we do at the university. We believe that diversity strengthens.”

As a new semester begins at Troy University – the first semester the building is open to students – Rev. Den Irwin said he remembers what the college journey is like and hopes the Newman Center helps students along their own paths.

“For me, college was a wonderful experience that allowed me to grow in my faith,” Irwin said, noting that his growth also included being questioned about his faith and having opportunities to share his faith. “We all need support and courage from one another.”

According to the university, no student is required to live in the residence hall where students will be exposed to discussions about all faiths and beliefs. While no one is required to live at the residence hall, it is open to all students. Students who reside in the Newman Center must maintain a 2.5 grade point average, be respectful of diversity, refrain from alcohol or illegal drugs while in the facility, maintain the standards of the “Trojan Way” and be engaged in a community service or service learning project a least semi-annually, according to the university.

While it has been previously reported that students must be involved in a faith-based service activity, the university notes the community service projects students work on is at their discretion.