Newman…then and now
Newman is a Catholic Community founded in the spirit of John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890), its namesake. Cardinal Newman began his career as an Anglican priest and a professor at Oxford, but ended his life as a Roman Catholic cardinal.
At UCSC the Newman Catholic Center was created when the University opened its doors in 1965. Today, the group is a vibrant group comprising approximately 80 student members and a handful of regularly attending alumni. It is also actively assisted by volunteers from local parishes. The Director of the Newman Center is Father Rodolfo Contreras.
For Newman groups on college campuses across the United States, community service is part of their mission. Their focus is coming together in faith to pray and worship, to learn about God and the human person, to perform service, to socialize and make friends within the student body and beyond.
The UCSC Newman group, keeping with their mission, offers many opportunities to make a difference in the local community. Several of the outreach activities that are offered throughout the school year are described below. Most of them require only a one-time commitment for a few hours in the evening or on a Saturday. Others, such as the Saint Francis Soup Kitchen, take place on a daily or weekly basis and students are welcome to volunteer whenever their schedule permits. While community service is not required to be a member of Newman, it is a fulfilling way to take a break from studying and homework.
Satellite Shelter Homeless Dinner
Once a quarter (or at least once per year), students and staff prepare a spaghetti dinner at Star of the Sea Catholic Church for homeless men. They take charge of everything from selecting the ingredients to setting the tables to chopping the fresh vegetables for the salad and the pasta sauce. When the cooking is done, the students and staff sit down to enjoy the food with the hungry but grateful men. Contact Jessica Nagtalon for more information: jessnagtalon at hotmail dot com.
The Giving Tree
Another activity that the UCSC Newman group has participated in for several years is the Giving Tree. Each year three weeks before the fall quarter ends, a tree (sometimes real!) adorned with nametags is put up for the Sunday night masses. Students are encouraged to take a name and purchase a gift for the child of their choice. Typically the names on the tree are local children with incarcerated fathers. The generosity of students over the years has been overwhelming. Students provide a table overflowing with thoughtful presents, like stocking caps and mittens, toys, and warm shirts. In most cases, the gifts from the students are the only ones the children will receive for the holiday season.
St. Francis Soup Kitchen
Newman involvement with the St. Francis Soup Kitchen is a tradition. Students have the opportunity to help out with serving and clean-up Monday through Friday from 10:30am to 1:00pm. Newman staff tries to make it easy for students who are interested in volunteering at the soup kitchen by providing rides there and back. Contact Father Roland for more information: newmanslug at aol dot com or (831) 423-9400.
The Siena House is a safe place for expectant women to stay during their pregnancy. Many of the residents are young women who would love some company. For the past couple years, the UCSC Newman group has organized outings to the Siena House on a quarterly basis to share Mass and conversation with the women. This year Newman also hopes to prepare a dinner for the women of Siena House and give them a night off from cooking. Contact Victoria Smith Raymond.
Habitat for Humanity
On Saturday, November 19th, UCSC Newman students will have a chance to help build a Habitat House in Watsonville for a very grateful family. Two years ago, a group of students participated in a workday at a Santa Cruz location and had a blast. Trained professionals guide student volunteers on how to successfully pound nails, paint walls and trim, and put up molding - among other things. A workday typically runs from 9:00am to 4:00pm and includes lunch. Contact Jessica Nagtalon for more information: jessnagtalon at hotmail dot com.
Annual Fundraiser Dinner
To provide funding for the various Newman activities and expenses, the UCSC group relies heavily on an annual fundraising dinner held each January at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Capitola. It is an event that is always successful and enjoyable for all involved, but largely due to the participation of the students. As they are the ones to benefit from the donations for the dinner tickets and proceeds from the auction, the students are responsible for many of the details, including entertainment, selling tickets, setting up, serving the meal, and clean up. It is a daylong process to serve a delicious prime rib dinner for 200 or more people, but the time and effort is well worth it. The fundraiser dinner not only provides money for spiritual retreats, trips to Tahoe, and other activities; it is also a night that brings the Newman community together as a team based on a common goal and a common faith.