Letter from the Pastor – Sep. 9
The Newman Center is a “complex organism.” Over the years that I have been here I have tried to keep us focused on the Mission we have been given by the Church: to be the Catholic Community for the University of Arizona. Sometimes that reminder has felt to some like I was inviting permanent community members to go to other parishes. I assure you that has never been my intention. The Newman community is open to anyone who wishes to make it their parish home (just like any other parish in the city). Generational differences are an important part of the university community, which is always made up of several generations of scholars, researchers, students, professors, investigators, etc. working together to teach, to learn and to contribute to a better understanding of the world. In any department on the university campus, you are likely to find everyone from 17 year-olds to post-retirement-age professors emeriti working together in the endeavors of that department. A Newman Center community should certainly mirror that experience; young Catholics rubbing shoulders with their peers, older students and professionals, young married couples, men and women, people their parents’ age (who are not their parents) and older, wiser people. All those who are beyond their university years, regardless of the state or stage in life, are what our young brothers and sisters aspire to be: Catholic men and women trying to live their faith in the midst of life. Those who make up the Newman Parish Community need to understand that this is their unique role within this very specialized parish
In order for that to be effective, we need to provide opportunities for our students and the permanent community to work, worship, and play together within the various programs of the Center. I so appreciate those of you who really have taken that seriously through the years: participating in adopt-a-student, cooking for various retreats or student meals, establishing friendships through common ministries. As a community, we have sometimes done it well and other times, not so much. This year, I want to be more intentional in providing opportunities for connection between the various parts of our community. There are 2 big events that I want to make sure remain events for the whole community: The Gaudeamus Celebration near the end of this semester, and the Spring Dance, next semester. In addition to that I would like to bring the “Community Retreat” back in the spring semester. To this end, I am putting together a “Communtiy Council” whose job it will be to “coordinate” the ongoing relationship between the student and permanent community. If you would be interested in being a part of such a Council, please contact me soon. I will also be asking for some of you to be on it.
There is another Newman Center served by our friars where the very large permanent community have become opponents within the parish. It even effects the liturgy (the older permanent community viewing their younger, more pious counterparts, who are concerned about following liturgical rules to the letter, as a threat to their “Newman way of life.”) This is not an uncommon problem around the country. The problem is in those situations is that young people will go away if they think that their needs are not being met. If that happens, the particular Newman Center has failed its mission. This has not been a problem at our Center. The best way to insure that it doesn’t is to create a good relationship between the various parts of the Community. Let’s work together to make it happen.