Elon University’s new home for its Catholic Campus Ministry students opened formally with a Mass and blessing at the University on Saturday, September 26th. The event began with a Mass at the McCrary Theatre in Elon’s Center for the Arts. Concelebrating were Fr. Robert Benko, OFM. Conv., Dean of the Piedmont Deanery and Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Burlington, and Fr. Gerald Waterman, Campus Minister at Elon. In attendance were Dr. Leo M. Lambert, President of Elon, and Mrs. Lambert, as well as many students involved in Catholic Campus Ministry, along with their parents.
The occasion was the opening of the new Catholic Newman Center on campus. Through a collaborative agreement between the University and the Diocese of Raleigh, the Holland House, a 4,000-square foot building which had served as the official residence for two presidents of the University, was moved a half mile across campus to become the Newman Center.
In his homily, Bishop Burbidge spoke about the purpose of campus ministry. “The objectives of Catholic campus ministry are clear,” he said. “To help students grow in their relationship with the Lord; to grow rich in the sight of God; to be focused on the real purposes of life and to become men and women whose faith will help to transform this campus and wherever they may be sent in the future.
“We thank in a special way tonight,” the Bishop continued, “President Lambert, his administration, Father Waterman and our benefactors for their enthusiastic commitment to campus ministry!”
After Mass, guests were shuttled to the new center for a formal blessing of the building and a tour and reception. The Center will provide students with a library and meeting space and a place to hold weekly programs and dinners. “It will be a place students can call home,” said Father Waterman. “It will also help establish our identity and nourish our faith community, which is so important to an undergrad on campus.” In addition to the library and social activities space, the facility includes living quarters for three Catholic students and a newly hired peer ministry coordinator.
Twenty-two percent of Elon students are Catholic. Approximately 180 students are regular participants in Catholic Campus Ministry programs.
Above: (top) Elon University's Catholic Newman Center, formerly Holland House; (middle) Elon University President Dr. Leo M. Lambert delivers congratulations at the blessing ceremony; (bottom) Father Robert Benko, OFM Conv., Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Burlington and Dean of the Piedmont Deanery, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and Fr. Gerald Waterman, OFM Conv., Elon Campus Minister, celebrated Mass in McCrary Theater on campus before the blessing.