Terry Witherell

University of Nebraska at Kearney Catholic Newman Center
The University of Nebraska at Kearney Catholic Newman Center.

We often hear that today’s generation of college students is not engaged in the Catholic faith. But that’s not what we find to be true when we visit campus ministries in the mission dioceses! Time and time again, we find young men and women on fire with their faith. Our recent visit to the University of Nebraska at Kearney was no exception.

We traveled to UNK’s Newman Center, which is part of the mission Diocese of Grand Island, Nebraska, to meet with some of the students who are involved in their campus ministry. We were there to congratulate them as the first-place winners of Catholic Extension’s recent Semester of Faith video campaign. This campaign invited campus ministries from around the country to share their good news by submitting a short video that highlighted some of the good things happening on their college campuses through their campus ministry. Altogether, we received 20 submissions!  These videos are creative and inspiring; you can’t help but smile and feel good about their witness as you watch them.

University of Nebraska at Kearney Catholic Newman Center
UNK students gather and pray before lunch at the Newman Center.

As part of the contest, campus ministries were encouraged to get Facebook “likes” for their video. The students at UNK took this very seriously. They talked to students who were in line in the cafeteria. They sent messages. They went to their local Knights of Columbus Fish Fry and got people to sign in to Facebook right there to vote. They even got their Bishop to encourage people to vote, when he visited!

As winners of the Semester of Faith campaign, the UNK Newman Center received a grant of $1,000 from Catholic Extension for their campus ministry. They also received a sponsored trip to the Campus Ministry Leadership Institute – and their school will be featured in Catholic Extension’s quarterly Extension magazine. But, as Sister Rosemarie Maly, the campus minister at the UNK Newman Center said, “They won so much more than that!”  She said that it was exciting to see the students on pins and needles, and then to see them so excited when they won.  “The Semester of Faith campaign created tremendous energy among the students and an overwhelming sense of gratitude,” she said. 

Sr. Rosemarie from the University of Nebraska at Kearney Newman Center.
“I am so grateful and so blessed to come to a campus ministry I love so much – the life and faith and commitment to young adults,” said Sr. Rosemarie, in her seventh year at the UNK Newman Center.

We asked the students what was most important to them about their campus ministry. Many said that it gave them a sense of community. Some talked about how that community was there for them during a difficult time. One student shared that she loved the personal relationship it has helped her have with God. Another said that they can often “blow the roof off the church” with their singing.

That sure sounds like young adults engaged in their Catholic faith to us! We’re glad we’re part of this good news!

- Terry Witherell, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Catholic Extension

PS: Check out the UNK Newman Center’s winning video below!