Temple University Newman Center
Philadelphia, Pa.
Grant: $120,000; Funded 2015-16 and 2016-17

Problem: Reaching Catholic Students in a Non-Catholic Community

The Temple Newman Center is the Catholic Church on the campus of Temple University, where it proclaims the Gospel, embodies a Catholic culture, and ministers to the university community. Named for England’s Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890), Newman Centers provide ministry and pastoral services to students attending non-Catholic colleges and universities around the world. From 2007 to 2011, a Mission Team from the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) assisted Temple’s Newman Center director, an ordained priest, in reaching out to Catholic students, organizing Bible studies, and encouraging daily Mass attendance. The team left and, in the last five years, the Newman Center director recognized both a need and an opportunity for expanded relationship-building with Temple’s Catholic population, but he lacked staff resources to do so.

Solution: Reestablish a FOCUS Mission Team on Campus

FOCUS Mission Teams, founded in 1998, reach out to college students across the country to support their spiritual development and the daily practice of their Catholic faith. The Temple Newman Center director requested a grant that would reestablish a team of FOCUS missionaries in service at the university’s Newman Center. FOCUS requires a campus fee of $60,000 each year to provide four missionaries who will support the director in his objectives. FOCUS missionaries invite students to weekly small-group Bible studies designed to thematically convey significant points of Catholic faith. They also advance goals of moral formation by stressing Catholic values in group discussions. Further, the teams invite especially enthusiastic students to a mentoring relationship that draws commitments to daily prayer and catechetical formation as well as opportunities to lead their own Bible studies. In addition, FOCUS organizes national conferences and mission service trips that further deepen the students’ faith development.

Results: Positive Signs of Spiritual Energy

Immediate growth indicators are evident in the proliferation of Bible studies. With the presence of the FOCUS Mission Team over the last two years, Temple’s Newman Center has progressed from one weekly Bible study of 10 students to 17 weekly Bible studies counting more than 100. Attendance at daily Mass has also increased. Five of Temple’s graduates who participated in Newman Center programs with the earlier FOCUS team have become FOCUS missionaries, and three students are applying to the program this year. Two of three Temple alumni were recently ordained to the Diaconate, and one is approaching ordination.