Ground broken for new $21.5 million Newman Center

by Paul Braun | New Earth

Dignitaries turn shovels of dirt signaling the start of the new St. Paul’s Newman Center building project. Pictured left to right are: Msgr. Gregory Schlesselmann, St. Paul’s Newman Center; Larry Nygard, Roers Construction; Father James Cheney, St. Paul’s Newman Center; Bishop John Folda, Diocese of Fargo; Dean Bresciani, President of NDSU; Jim Roers, Roers Construction; and Mayor Tim Mahoney, City of Fargo. (Kristina Lahr | New Earth)

St. Paul’s Newman Center, which serves North Dakota State University (NDSU), has broken ground on a new Newman Center, chapel and faith-based student housing facility. The $21.5 million project will replace the existing Newman Center, which has been serving Catholic students at NDSU since 1958. To date, the Newman Center has raised just over $18 million of the goal.

“It is with great thanksgiving to God that we look forward to the next chapter of service to the students of NDSU through the award winning campus ministry program of St. Paul’s Newman Center,” said Father James Cheney, Pastor of St. Paul’s Newman Center. “Faith-based practices during the critical formation period of the college experience will produce healthier relationships, better marriages, better coping skills, work habits centered on character formation, and a life perspective informed by hope.”

Joining Father Cheney in the groundbreaking ceremony were the Most Reverend John Folda, Bishop of Fargo, and NDSU President Dean Bresciani, and Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney.

“Sharing the Catholic faith with young people is one of the most important missions of the Church in our time,” said Bishop John Folda. “The new St. Paul Newman Center will help us continue this mission at NDSU for decades to come. We thank God for bringing us to this day, and we’re especially grateful to all the donors who are helping to build this spiritual home for the NDSU community.”

“NDSU welcomes this enhancement of the University community and the community surrounding our University,” said President Bresciani.

The new St. Paul’s Newman Center near NDSU will feature a 425-seat chapel, offices, and faith-based student housing. (submitted photo)

The new Newman Center will consist of a two-story main chapel that will seat 425 people. The gathering and hospitality areas will feature a student commons area, a great hall/multi-purpose room, a kitchen, coffee house, Catholic bookstore, and a 325-seat ballroom. The space will also include classrooms and a library, as well as staff office space.

One of the highlights of the new Newman Center will be expanded student faith-based housing with 88 beds, a Cardinal Muench discernment hall for men to further discern the priesthood, and a rectory for priests.

The groundbreaking took place on June 24, the feast of St. John the Baptist. Father Cheney told those gathered that the date was fitting since St. John has played such a big role in his spiritual life. He hopes the new Newman Center will continue to inspire Catholic students at NDSU for the next 60 years and beyond.

“The Newman project will help build a broad based value in NDSU,” said Father Cheney. “It will allow for a deeper engagement in university life, contribute to greater retention rates, and promote NDSU’s long standing tradition of excellence. This project, combined with nationally recognized programming, presents a tremendous benefit to our community: changing hearts, changing lives, and forming future leaders – bisonCatholic.”

The expected projected completion date is July 2021.