Newman Center serves as ‘home away from home’

The recent opening of the renovated St. Catherine of Siena Newman Center not only gave U students an institution to hangout at and worship, but it is also a place some call home.

There are currently five students living in the six available living quarters at the center, located across the street from Presidents’ Circle.

According to Lay Campus Minister Seth Dyson, there are five residential rooms in the center and space for six students.

Four of the five living at the center are U students and are required to meet certain guidelines in order to continue living at the center, Dyson said.

“We have an application process where students who have a somewhat active role in the church can apply to live at the center,” he said. “Students that are chosen live at the center for one year and must re-apply if they want to continue living at the center.”

Dyson said three of the five students living at the center are Peer Ministers and therefore receive free room and board for giving 15 to 20 hours of service a week.

The other two residents are volunteers at the center and pay $250 rent a month, according to Dyson.

Peer Minister and U senior Jeff Maffaccio said the rent is worth paying because of the center’s location.

Maffaccio recently transferred from a university in Texas and said the atmosphere at the center is a good aspect of living there.

“I lived in the dorms here and I did not enjoy it because I felt like a bit of an outsider,” he said. “Living with people that share my same beliefs makes it easier and I am not putting anyone down, it is just nice to be around others that believe in the same things and have the same standards.”

Maffaccio added that he had to pay around $2,500 a semester for a dorm, and apartments close to campus are set at an average of $500 a month.

Dyson said the housing coincides with the center’s mission “to have a home away from home for students.”

“Through the center we are able to reach out to students,” he said. “We try and help them in any way we can.”

According to Development Director Patty Hurber, the center is basically a new addition to the area surrounding the U since the recent renovation and reconstruction that took five years and $3.7 million in funding.

Huber said 5 percent of students at the U are Catholic and the renovation was long overdue.

“We have close to 400 students at our student mass,” she said. “The center has provided more room for worship and we are definitely growing.”

Huber said before the renovation, the center had 10 rooms available for students to live in, but the number decreased to five rooms because they were not being used.

“The rooms were not filling up before,” she said. “They took a parish survey and decided to convert the residential floor into classrooms and moved the rooms up one floor.”

Maffaccio said interest in living at the center has increased since the center re-opened.

“When I first signed up to live at the center, not many students had applied,” he said. “Now it seems like the rooms are starting to come into demand.” Maffaccio said living at the center is a great opportunity, even if you do not work there.

“There are not many Catholics on campus,” he said. “The center helps those who are Catholic feel like they belong.”

[email protected]