Off-campus residents and community react to change in direction of new center

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The Paulist Fathers, who served at the Newman Center for 66 years, will be leaving at the end of July due to the new leadership of the Diocese of Columbus. Photo courtesy of Madisyn Callahan.

Mary Ward, who has been congregating at Ohio State’s Saint Thomas More Newman Center for 59 years, loved the connections she was able to make with the students who attended the church.

However, with the recent leadership changes within the Newman Center for a “student-centered view”, Ward and other church members say they are overlooked. Ward said the vision for the new diocese will alienate and prevent non-students from participating within the church.

“In this era of ‘cancellation culture,’ it has canceled the resident community, and that includes younger people before they go to college,” Ward said. “There won’t be programs for them like there have been in the past.”

Madisyn Callahan, an Ohio State elder who has volunteered with the Newman Center in the past, said the majority of people who attend the church are Ohio State elders. They are an important part of the Newman Center, she said.

“Just because there’s an older, non-student population doesn’t mean it’s not student-focused,” Callahan said. “In fact, community members are there to support the students.

Even with a more student-centric view, Julia Dreiling, a third-year data analytics student who attends the Newman Center, said those changes, particularly the removal of the Paulista Fathers, have passed. an independent order of priests based in New York that has run the Newman Center for 66 yearsprevents students from getting involved.

“[The Paulist Fathers] are just wonderful people in every sense of the word, and for the bishop to throw them away like that without conversations with the community and the Paulists themselves shows extreme disregard for the character of others,” Dreiling said.

Ward said the Newman Center has always been student-focused, but the involvement of community members ensures that programs and volunteer work continue even after students graduate and leave Columbus. With this change, many members will go to different churches, she said.

“I don’t know if there will still be anyone coming from the resident community, but the majority certainly won’t,” Ward said.

The Newman Center could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

Sandy Murray, who has attended the Newman Center for 59 years, said she disagreed with the withdrawal of the Paulista Fathers. The Paulist Fathers will hold their final Mass on July 31 after they were unable to compromise with Fernandes’ new contract.

Callahan said the Paulist Fathers were a big part of what made the Newman Center so welcoming to students.

“The important part of Paulistas, I think, is that they take the time to get to know each of the students or community members who walk through their door,” Callahan said. “I think it is important to allow the Paulist Fathers to be there for those who revolve around their careisms, when we could have called on the help of the diocese if they really needed it. They didn’t have to take over like they did.

Not only does Murray think Fernandes isn’t listening to the community, she also thinks he isn’t listening. Teachings of Pope Francis That is.

“I have been a Catholic cradle, a faithful Catholic, all my life; none of this seems to be what Pope Francis is saying,” Murray said. “He wants a listening church.”

In response to those in favor of the change, Callahan said it was due to their lack of understanding of what the Newman Center does.

“A big part of their belief is that the Paulist Fathers don’t teach the teachings of the Catholic faith because they are open to certain communities,” Callahan said. “That’s not the case; they never taught against the Catholic faith.

Murray said she was worried because Fernandes seems to be bringing in people who follow her conservative views.

“One of the reasons they gave for this change was to want to bring in other bands that weren’t currently represented at the Newman Center,” Murray said. “I know some of them. They are extremely conservative and present a narrow view of what Catholicism is.

Callahan said that while she disagrees with these changes, she still hopes the leadership transition will end well and the Newman Center will continue to serve the Ohio State community.

“I really want to see this work completed. I would never wish failure on these priests,” Callahan said. “I know they have good intentions, but I just don’t see it going the way they expect.”


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