This summer, rising sophomore Noah Olono is participating in Crossroads, a pro-life walk across the country. Olono never would have considered being a part of Crossroads if it wasn’t for his involvement at Holy Trinity Newman Center during his freshman year at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
By the Numbers
Hours of exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at the Newman Center each week (seven hours a day for five days).
Average number of students attending “Newman Night” — an event that consists of Mass, free dinner and a talk every Thursday.
Average number of students who attend daily Mass.
Newman Center alumni who have entered seminary formation in the last 10 years.
Newman Center alumni who have become FOCUS missionaries.
Students who attended Lumberjack Awakening Retreats this past academic year.
Students participating in Bible studies.
“I knew absolutely nobody, but I felt pulled there,” Olono said. “I felt a sense of community and it was something I never felt before. I can be myself there without having to worry about anything.”
Olono will be serving the Newman Center this coming academic year as an intern and has never been stronger in his faith since getting involved.
Recent graduate Anthony Buckley said he chose to study at NAU partly because he had heard so much about the Newman Center and wanted to experience it for himself. By the time he was a sophomore, he was leading other men at Holy Trinity to help during a women’s retreat. That experience sent Buckley on a trajectory to lead Bible studies and co-lead a Lumberjack Awakening retreat his senior year.
“I was called higher into those leadership roles and they made me an even better person,” Buckley said. “I became someone who welcomed people instead of being the one needing to be welcomed.”
Sarina Stokes, another recent NAU graduate, will be welcoming students into a deeper relationship with Christ starting in August. Stokes accepted a position with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, where she will serve as a missionary to students on another college campus.
Stokes attended Catholic school growing up but found that it was the Newman Center that taught her to make her faith her own. She wouldn’t have applied to be a missionary if it wasn’t for that experience.
Holy Trinity Newman Center at Northern Arizona University
520 W. Riordan Rd., Flagstaff
The NAU Newman Center invites students into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church, leading to a lifetime of discipleship and evangelization.
“I felt unconditional love at the Newman Center. I first saw this through Fr. [Matt] Lowry who, like our Father in Heaven, pours it into his flock of children, the students,” Stokes said. “Because of this example from him, it is then reflected into the community of students and they begin to love and care for each other.”
Fr. Lowry, who has been Holy Trinity’s chaplain for 11 years, is planning for a new building for the Newman Center. With the support of the “Together Let Us Go Forth ~ Juntos Sigamos Adelante” Campaign, Holy Trinity will be granted $4.2 million for the project. Fr. Lowry explained that the current building was constructed more than 50 years ago, a time when the university was a quarter of the size. Needless to say, students and faculty have outgrown the Newman Center.
“The funds will be used to evangelize and further disciple students who are here now but also to lay the foundation for students who will be here tomorrow,” Fr. Lowry said. “One of the current problems is the Newman Center is very difficult to find and it’s not necessarily beautiful and inspiring. In a culture where truth and even goodness are questioned, beauty still speaks loudly. We want a facility that’s so beautiful and inviting on the outside that people will say, ‘I can’t wait to see the inside.’”
Although the goal is a new Newman Center, it’s all about the mission to equip students with a lifetime of discipleship and evangelization.
“There is no more important, more pivotal time in a person’s life than during college. When Christ is a part of that discernment and formation it sets students on a trajectory for the rest of their lives living as missionary disciples,” Fr. Lowry said.
“After the movie ‘Unplanned’ came out, there was a large number of students who started praying outside of Planned Parenthood,” he added. “There’s an energy and a passion that this age group has and when they have clarity on what is true, they are willing to fight for it.”