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What is a Newman Center?


Will LePage | CC BY 3.0

The St. Philip Neri Catholic Newman Center at the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Philip Kosloski - published on 08/28/21

Newman Centers find inspiration in St. John Henry Newman, and seek to build up Catholic culture at secular universities.

Newman Centers play an essential role in the preservation of students’ spiritual lives around the world. They are strategically placed at secular or non-Catholic universities and are designed to bolster the faith of young Catholics, who for the first time are away from home and responsible for getting themselves to Sunday Mass.

These centers have a rich history that all began in 19th-century England.

The Newman Center that started it all was born at Oxford in 1888, and was inspired by John Henry Cardinal Newman, who died in 1890 and was well known throughout England for his conversion to the Catholic Church. Newman was a big proponent of Catholic culture and wrote extensively about his ideas regarding education in a volume of lectures entitled The Idea of a University.

With this in mind, Hartwell de la Garde Grissell founded the Newman Society at Oxford with the intention of supporting Catholic students attending the non-Catholic university. Grissell was similarly a convert to Catholicism and was inspired by Newman’s life.

The success of this Newman Center quickly spread to the United States, with the first Newman Center established in 1893 at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Currently there are Newman Centers at approximately 2,500 different college campuses.

The website Newman Connection has a directory of all of its associated Newman Centers, providing parents and students the resources they need to find a Newman Center at the university they will attend.

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