by Aloysius Wong
October 23, 2017
Published in The Mike.
It’s not the tallest building on campus, it doesn’t have a large neighbouring church, its website isn’t the most aesthetic or well-designed — in fact, many people (arguably) don’t even know it exists — but it’s one of the most beautiful places on campus, not only because of the space, but also because of the welcoming atmosphere and the loving people you’ll meet there. However, doesn’t everyone assert that about every new place? Isn’t every location on campus safe and welcoming? What’s so different about it? And, for heaven’s sake, where is it and what is it called?
The Newman Centre is actually fairly easy to locate. It’s located on the northeast corner of Hoskin Avenue and St. George Street, right across from the sinking ominous concrete peacock that is more commonly referred to as Robarts Library. It serves as a Catholic student centre, chaplaincy, and parish on campus. However, this does not mean that only Catholics are welcome; on the contrary, it fulfills the truest meaning of “Catholic,” which, at its core, means “whole” and “universal.” In other words, the Newman Centre, like the Catholic faith, is open to all. Everyone, regardless of their faith or lack thereof, is welcome.
But what’s there? Sounds pretty boring so far, doesn’t it? What if I told you it has the cheapest coffee on campus? Ah, now I’ve got your attention. Apart from the 50-cent coffee, though, there’s much more that the Newman community has to offer. There are weekly board game nights (such as their Tuesday night “Pray and Play”), frequent free snacks, various clubs, groups, and volunteer opportunities, among many, many others. There’s a grand piano in the Oak Room (one of the living rooms in the house) that’s free for use, just like the ones in Brennan Hall. There’s a library with beautiful natural lighting and a calming atmosphere on the second floor. Nevertheless, my personal favourite are the couches by the coffee machine, which are undoubtedly some of the comfiest couches of the postmodern era (warning: decreased stress levels and an increased desire to nap may follow).
It isn’t, however, so much the atmosphere that brings people there. Rather, it’s the individuals that make up the community. “Newmanites,” as the regulars are dubbed, are intelligent, kind, funny, welcoming, and overall very good people. And honestly, as much as I could go on, it’s of no use unless you go there and meet them yourselves.
As Erin Kinsella, Associate Director of Campus Outreach at the Newman Centre says, “Newman and St. Mike’s work together to be a support for students. They are the point for both of our institutions. We hope students find a home at Newman and a home at St. Mike’s because the wider our community of faith is, the more opportunity we will have to encounter the Lord in everyday life, and the more support we have in translating that encounter into a life of authentic love.”
“I would love students to know that they are loved and there is a purpose to their lives,” Erin continues. “Discovering that love and purpose is intimately tied to faith and reason: faith is not a naive response to a system of rules, it’s a relationship.”
And really, what else do we do as students and as human beings except try to discover that love and purpose in our lives? We may go about doing it in many different ways, but that’s a goal we all share. And so is our need for companionship.
Come to the Newman Centre; everyone is welcome. Maybe you’ll find a new friend. Maybe you’ll find a new place to read. Maybe you’ll find a new hobby. Maybe you’ll even find God. Or maybe you’ll just find a nice cup of coffee, which is fine too, but at least you’ll find Newman.