What is a Newman Center?
Newman Centers are named after Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801 – 1890) an Anglican clergyman who converted to Catholicism in 1845 and was later appointed cardinal of the Church. Recognized as a scholar, he authored many books about the development of Christian doctrine in the early Church. His love of learning led him to develop insights into how a university should run. These were enunciated in various lectures and papers which were collected in “Idea of University”. Blessed Cardinal Newman encouraged the Church to remain open to the modern world; he championed the unity of science and Catholicism and promoted the idea of freedom in research. Newman’s name was congruent with a new attitude in the Church which paved the way for the openness of the Second Vatican Council.
Today, a Newman Center or Newman Club marks the presence of the Catholic Church on many college or university campuses.
How did our Newman Center begin?
In 1953, Fr. Sergio P. Negro was given the responsibility of the Newman Club at Fresno State College. Plans were in the making to move the campus to its present site so it was decided that a Newman Center should be built near the new campus. In 1953, the first classes were held on the new campus of Fresno State. Five years later, work began on the proposed Newman Center. Construction was completed in 1964 and the first Masses were celebrated in the Chapel on May 10, 1964. The Newman Center quickly became home to many students and faculty groups. Over the years Newman Center has developed into one of the more active parishes in the Diocese of Fresno. While campus ministry remains integral to the life of the parish, the Newman Center boasts of nearly forty other ministries to people of all ages.
Why St. Paul Catholic Newman Center?
No, the parish is not named after the actor Paul Newman! Rather, St. Paul is the formal name of the Catholic parish that houses the Newman Center. St. Paul is an appropriate saint for the parish and was very much an important model for the ministry of Cardinal Newman. Described as the “Apostle to the Gentiles”, Paul’s experience of conversion led him to proclaim the Good News to all people and his missionary journeys saw the founding of several Christian communities. His letters to these early Christian communities comprise the largest portion of the New Testament and are the foundation for much our Christian Theology. Like St. Paul, the Newman Center is committed to proclaiming the Good News of Jesus to all people.
Is the Newman Center like other Catholic churches?
Well, “yes” and “no”. As a Newman Center, St. Paul’s is a non-territorial parish. Unlike other parishes, St. Paul’s does not have established boundaries in which people must live to be considered “parishioners”. Catholic collegians and faculty are automatically considered parishioners. Others become members by registering - even if they live within the territory of another parish. Otherwise, the Newman Center is a Catholic parish in every respect. It may look a little different - less traditional – but it offers the same services and celebrates the same worship that defines who we are as a Roman Catholic Church.