If one ever wondered why they may have not heard of any Catholic Church involvement on our campus here at Queens College, they need to know that it always has been here, as The Catholic Newman Center is at the heart of the Catholic community on campus.
To the surprise of many, there are documents proving that the Newman Club has been around since at least 1963 with the same mission that they hold to this day: “To be the presence of Christ and the Church on campus.”
As stated in their website, their services are the result of a longstanding partnership between Queens College and the Diocese of Brooklyn alongside many on campus. Even though the center has existed for over 51 years, The Catholic Newman Club only got re-chartered last semester in the Spring of 2023.
Both institutions have a long history of serving immigrants and the underprivileged through education in Brooklyn and Queens, with QC always aiming to embrace students from all backgrounds.
Ever since the opening of the center at QC in the 1900s, the Diocese of Brooklyn has brought 18 different chaplains. One that many might remember is Reverend Paul A. Wood, who passed on in late June of 2020. He is viewed as an esteemed leader for the college and diocese. After this unfortunate loss, the center welcomed Reverend Jeremy Canna as the next chaplain who remained at QC until last semester.
Nevertheless, through the leadership of Bishop Robert J. Brennan, the Diocese of Brooklyn renewed its partnership with Queens College. Thus, the diocese has hired a new chaplain and director, Reverend Jose Diaz, alongside a new campus minister, Omar Cortez.
Cortez spoke to The Knight News and said, ‘‘My time in Queens College has been fun. For years I heard nothing but great things about the college. Everyone that I worked with has been great and the Newman Center’s students’ enthusiasm has been refreshing. I really enjoyed how everyone collaborated in executing and organizing the mass of the Holy Spirit with Bishop Brennan.’’
Additionally, Bishop Brennan invited the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) to send four missionaries to walk alongside the students in their relationship with God. These are: Katie Mossberger (Team Director), Lucero Manzanares, Greg Tandarich, and Andrew Considine.
They are a definite plus to the center, as Father Jose Diaz said in the newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn, The Tablet, “Instead of them seeing a guy with a collar here all serious, they see peers. They see people who are normal, but are faithful.”
“Getting the opportunity to work at the Newman Center at Queens College has been a true gift! I have been greatly impacted by how welcoming everyone has been. Their friendliness has been a beautiful example of the Lord’s love,” Mossberger said. “The Lord is already up to great things at the center, with so many new faces coming in each day! I can’t wait to see what else He has in store for this year, and it’s a true gift to be a part of the beginnings of such a great club!”
Manzanares spoke about some of the achievements that they’ve made and the progress that they’ve seen. Noting that, “Working at the Newman Center has been a unique and rewarding experience. I came in knowing that there was a lot of work to be done but also knowing it was worth it. When we first started four weeks ago, we only had a handful of students and now we have four Bible studies up and running with students eager to be here and learn more about their faith. It truly is a gift to be here.”
“Queens College caught me by surprise. I expected the students to live by the New York City stereotypes, keep to themselves, slightly rude and so on,” Considine said of his initial expectations. “But they are quite opposite, students love to engage in conversations as long as you initiate it. Students are very open to being involved with the Newman Center and so far it has been an absolute pleasure to be at QC.”
Some activities of the club are: daily mass at 12:30 pm, Bible studies at different times and dates, receiving the sacrament of reconciliation via appointment or by request, or saying a private prayer in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. You can also have fun with the FOCUS Missionaries at game nights, pizza parties, death hack, and spike ball at the Quad on top of helping plan service activities for people in need or just hang out.
The Newman Catholic Club is located in Student Union rooms 207-208. It is open from 10:30am – 5:30pm on Monday – Thursday when classes are in session.If you would like to learn more, please take a look at their website or stop by the center on the second floor at the Student Union. You can also follow them on Instagram at @qc.catholic.