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EIU 360

75 Years of Service to EIU

Second Annual Newman Night celebration will commemorate Catholic center's 75th anniversary at EIU.

This story is part of a series: RSO Spotlights

Not many registered student organizations at Eastern Illinois University boast as long a history as the Newman Catholic Center, which has spent three-quarters of a century as a fixture in the EIU community.

The center is celebrating that 75th anniversary with a look back at its history, but also wants everybody to know it has an eye toward the future as it prepares to launch its “Faith, Hope and Charity” fundraising campaign in conjunction with its second annual Newman Night celebration on Saturday, Nov. 1.

It all began during Fall 1939 according to a historical fact sheet provided by Zach Samples, a graduate student at EIU and also a member of the center’s Newman Night committee:

Dean Elizabeth Lawson met with the Committee on Student Organizations to discuss the Catholic Student Study Club's submitted constitution and by-laws. The good news was the hard work of the students Anne Worland, Joseph Zupsich and Kathering Hughes, as well as Dorothee Coleman (the wife of Coleman Hall's namesake) and Fr. John Connolly, paid off. This was the first officially recognized Catholic presence at Eastern Illinois State Teachers College. By October 9, 1939 they were already in conversation about affiliating with the Newman Club Federation. Their desire to have a Catholic presence at Eastern Illinois State Teachers College had produced much fruit over the years.

Years later, the Newman Club was able to purchase its first home; it spent 35 years from 1964-1999 in a previously abandoned church at the current Family Video location off Lincoln Avenue. In 1999, the Newman Catholic Center moved to its present location at 500 Roosevelt Avenue behind Andrews and Lincoln Halls.

Roy Lanham, the center’s director of campus ministry, arrived in 1986, and in 1993 the center established its Student Volunteer Center. This was quite important, as it turns out, because of the many opportunities the SVC currently provides for all Eastern students.

Today, the SVC sponsors Alternative Spring Break trips that are open to the entire EIU community, Fall Break trips, Thanksgiving Break trips, nursing home visits, EIU's chapter of Habitat for Humanity, an active Afterschool Program, Amigos and Friends, and so much more.

That’s quite a list of opportunities the Newman Center has provided for Eastern students over the year to make a positive impact on the community and beyond, which is why campaign organizers hope to surpass the $20,000 given at last year’s Newman Night event. Funds raised will be used for continuing the center’s charitable outreaches and to assist students in mission, education and service trips.

Full details about what to expect at Newman Night are available on EIU’s online calendar, while you can also visit the Newman Center’s website to find more about the organization’s history and the various outreach programs in which it is currently engaged.

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