Thursday, August 26, 2010

College Students and the Parish, Part Four: Pre-Season Poll

What are the Top 5 Newman Centers in the U.S.? 

I'm no expert, but here's my list:

#5: University of Maryland, College Park, MD.
#4: Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.
#3: University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL.
#2: Texas A&M, College Station, TX.

And the best of the best:

#1: University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.

Why do I think so highly of these five Newman Centers?  They are faithful to the Church, they are evangelizing students to Christ and to radical discipleship as Catholics, the Sacraments are flourishing there, they have solid Priests in leadership, they are fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life and to heroic, godly marriages.

Many of these strong Newman Centers have a chapter of FOCUS ("Fellowship of Catholic University Students") associated with them.  FOCUS is an outstanding, rapidly expanding Catholic ministry on dozens of American campuses that is developing an impressive track record for strengthening the Catholic faith of thousands of college students.  If your son or daughter is choosing which public university to attend, find out if FOCUS ( is on campus.

What do you think?  Do you know any Newman Centers or Catholic Campus Ministries on public universities that you think should crack the Top 5?  Go ahead and send in your favorites and, perhaps, say a bit about why they rank so highly.


  1. Father Baer,

    Although I've never seen it, I have a few friends who say great things about the Pittsburgh Oratory, which takes care of the campus ministry for Pitt, Carnegie-Melon, and another school, I think.

    They are fiercely orthodox, promote adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and have countless opportunities for growth and catechesis for students. FOCUS is a big part of it.

    Of course, this is just what I hear, but could you really expect anything less from a Newman Center run by Newman's own order?


    -Dan Faas

  2. Fr. Baer,

    Thanks for posting on this topic this week. I was certainly one of the other 80% who didn't go to church in my early twenties. I went to UST but didn't really get into campus ministry there for whatever reason. The St. Lawrence Newman Center at the UofM ended up being my way back to church. I'm not sure if they break the "top 5" in my book but it worked for me.

  3. Hey there, Fr. Baer!

    I am a senior at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and although I am very biased (to say the least), I think St. John's Newman Center here at U of I should be a little higher on the list (I'd settle for first). Haha...I'm kidding, of course.

    But a few reasons why I'd consider our Newman Center to be one of the finest, aside from its reputation as a "Catholic Disneyland," would be its 600-person dorm, the well-established Koinonia retreat program, the presence of FOCUS, and a whole host of campus ministry items that take place at our booming college chapel. We have approximately 3,000 Catholics attend any one of our 5 weekend Masses, and a pretty fair turnout at all of our daily Masses (we have 2-3/day). After reading your post, I couldn't help but put a plug in for our Newman Center here...I wouldn't be the Catholic I am today without its influence.

    Side note: I believe you know the FOCUS Missionary who goes by Ryan Purcell. He's a good friend here, and I believe I even briefly met you when he took a few of us men up to visit SJV this past spring. He speaks very highly of you, and from reading your blog, I can tell why.

    God Bless!
    Michael Friedel