Newman Center move-in complete; dedication next

CHAMPAIGN — Called one of the most ambitious building projects in the history of the Diocese of Peoria when it was announced in November 2006, the $26 million residence hall expansion and renovations at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois are nearing completion and will be dedicated in a series of celebrations set for Sept. 6 and 7.

The highlights of the weekend include a Mass celebrated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, on Sunday, Sept. 7, at 12:05 p.m. in St. John’s Chapel, 604 E. Armory St. B. Joseph White, president of the University of Illinois, is expected to be among the dignitaries in attendance.

Following the liturgy there will be a special presentation to Msgr. Edward Duncan, Newman chaplain emeritus and a fixture in the Catholic community at the university for 54 years, and the formal ribbon cutting ceremony. Then Bishop Jenky will walk through the facilities to bless the Newman Center’s new North Building and renovated spaces in the South Building.

The largest Newman Center in the country, St. John’s doubled the number of students who could be housed there with the 127,000-square-foot expansion. By adding 316 beds in a combination of suites, double rooms and single rooms, 600 students are now able to call St. John’s home.

What the numbers translate into is a greater opportunity for ministry to the estimated 10,000 Catholic students at the University of Illinois, said Father Greg Ketcham, director and head chaplain at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center.

“THE FRUITS of this ministry for the last 80 years are unprecedented,” said Ketcham, who pointed to the number of vocations that have grown out of the Newman ministry as well as those students who have entered the Catholic church or returned to the practice of their faith.

“In doubling the size of the residence halls, I’m anticipating doubling the harvest,” he said.

For more details about the grand opening weekend celebration and to register for the various events, visit the Web site of St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at www.sjcnc.org.

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