Near the end of the fall 2013 term, Newman Club, Knox’s Catholic organization, was brought back to life after the group found a priest to lead them for the first time in two years.
This term, they intend to keep the momentum going. One way is with a monthly mass, the first already scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 26 at 12:30 p.m in Old Main’s common room. It will be followed by a luncheon and talk by Father John-James Arcidiacono.
With a 30-odd crowd of Knox students, a professor and even a Carl Sandburg student showing up for a mass in Old Main’s common room offered near the end of last term, the scene could not have looked more different from the three-to-five person meetings that previously constituted the majority of the club’s activities.
“Especially because the priest is so central to Catholicism, I think it was hard for the club to maintain its energy,” senior Christopher Poore said. Poore became president of the club last term.
It was Gina Franco, Associate Professor of English, who put the club in contact with Father James. Involved with his monastery in Peoria, she had encouraged the brothers to consider apostolic work on campus.
“This could not have happened without her,” senior Emily Nield said.
Nield joined Newman Club as a freshman and has since helped Poore launch the club’s endeavors this year. Poore has a vision for the organization, hoping that it will create a place where one can find religious community on campus.
“What we would like Newman Club to be is a place on campus where Catholics and other spiritual seekers can come together in fellowship and adoration and enjoy one another’s company and to ask important questions about who they are, what existence is, what are we supposed to do with one another,” he said.
For Poore himself, the club has served as an anchor for his faith on campus.
“I was living a life that sort of straddled two places. I would go to mass at Corpus Christi and I would experience the deep prayer and reverence of the people there, and then I would come back to Knox and I would be really busy with the things we’re all very busy with. I needed to have a more complete vision of what Knox is, of what the church is and so that led me to seek out other seekers,” Poore said.
For Nield, finding camaraderie in faith has been essential.
“It does tend to wither without that aspect of community,” she said.
The monthly Mass is paramount to the club, as it offers its members what they see as a direct route to divinity.
“We can search for God in prayer, we can search for him in tending to those in need, but we actually come into contact with him in the Mass,” Poore said.
However, the club makes sure they are able to practice their faith together throughout the year, so they hold lectio divina (scripture reading and prayer) almost every week, and some members attend nearby Corpus Christi Parish.
“Bringing Newman Club here opens up our idea of what the church can be,” Poore said. “Everything we do now has to be elevated to the level of the Mass. We have to extend the Mass into every aspect of our lives.”