St. John Henry Newman Chapel to celebrate one-year anniversary
by William J. Dagendesh
COLORADO SPRINGS. The St. John Henry Newman Chapel and Catholic Student Center is inviting residents to help celebrate its one-year anniversary.
The chapel and student center will hold an open house and tours of its facility on March 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The facility is a spiritual home for young adults ages 18-23 in the Diocese of Colorado Springs where they can attend mass and participate in spiritual activities.
The open house will give visitors an opportunity to tour the facility and grounds in a more relaxed atmosphere without experiencing the hype associated with similar events. Instead of an elegantly-designed structure housing multi-purpose rooms, the facility is a simple chapel and open spaces in which staff/students can conduct Bible studies and meetings.
The facility also boasts a near panoramic view of Pikes Peak and an under budget price tag. “We have had large-scale events before, but wanted to keep the open-house/tour low-key,” said Director of Campus Ministry Father Kyle Ingels.
According to Father Ingels, the project saw its share of obstacles, ranging from generating funds to finding acreage on which to build the facility. Approximately 3,000 people participated in helping bring the facility to fruition.
“Although we broke ground in fall 2019, the foundation wasn’t poured until January 2020 due chiefly to the pandemic. However, contractors and everyone involved in the project were willing to work with us,” said Father Ingels, who worked with architects and contractors, ordered sacred vessels and oversaw construction of the facility.
On Feb. 20, 2021, Bishop Emeritus Michael Sheridan dedicated the chapel, marking a major milestone for diocesan campus ministry. Father Ingels conducted his first Mass for students in the chapel on Feb. 21. However, COVID prevented many residents from attending both services.
“People were reluctant to visit the building during the pandemic. Also, some people believed they couldn’t come because they’re not Catholic or students here,” Father Ingels said.
Since its dedication, the facility has grown both in attendance and attitude. “I have seen an increase in attendance. Our Sunday morning Mass has grown five-fold, so people have been supportive of what we’re doing. Even our major donors have complimented the facility, so I think growth over the past year has been positive,” Ingels said.
Father Ingels believes the facility will figure heavily in the community’s spiritual growth. “We have needed a facility like this for many years because we need to help with the spiritual needs of our young students. The purpose of this facility is to help students grow in Jesus Christ,” Ingels said.
Grace Benskin, a senior nursing student at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, agreed. “It’s crazy to think back to my first two years of college when I spent my days attending Mass in a classroom, driving to different houses for Bible study, game nights and other community events, and waiting for the day we would have a space of our own,” Benskin said.
“The St. John Henry Newman Catholic Student Center has been a place to call home over this last year. Having the space to gather (and) embrace each other in and, most importantly, love Christ in, has been life-changing for this community. I can’t wait to see all joy and wonderful blessings that are to come.”
Faith Balstad, a freshman pre-nursing student at UCCS, added, “The first time I went to the Newman Center was the same day I moved into my dorm. There were so many emotions going through my head, and I was scared for this next chapter in my life.
“However, the environment and all the amazing people at the Newman Center definitely made my college experience so much easier . . . Not only have I gained amazing friends, but I have also gained a community that has strengthened my walk with the Lord, and I am extremely grateful for that.”
Sophomore Senan Kottin believes the Newman center has provided a community of friends to keep from feeling isolated, especially for someone living far from home.
“It is a place that has taught and is still teaching me more about how to live a better life and, most importantly, a more faithful one. I am very glad and thankful that we have the Newman center and that it is practically on campus,” Kottin said.
Cali Martinez, a senior, said the Newman Center has been a safe place for her and others to practice and grow in the Catholic faith, especially as it relates to the college atmosphere.
“Within the community the center has provided, I have been able to meet many amazing people and form deep and meaningful friendships with them. The closest friendships I have ever had have come from Mountain Lion Catholic, and even more so with the building of the Newman Center,” Martinez said.
Father Ingels is motivated by the students’ excitement, he said. “Lots of students ask questions about God and life. In time, these students will go into the community and spread the word of God to others which can only benefit future generations,” Ingels said.
Newman Centers are facilities located on or near secular college and university campuses throughout the United States. They are designed chiefly to assist young adults come to and remain in the Catholic faith. A person does not need to be Catholic to participate in Newman Center activities.
Everybody is welcome at Mass and many events are open to the public. “We welcome and encourage everyone to visit us and, in particular, our chapel which is the heart of the facility. The open house is a great opportunity to stop by and say ‘hello,’” Father Ingels said.
Typically, confessions are offered prior to daily Mass or by appointment. Masses are held at noon Monday-Wednesday in the chapel. On Thursdays, Mass is celebrated at 4:30 p.m., preceded by a Holy Hour with eucharistic adoration at 3:30 p.m. Sunday Masses are held at noon.
Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the Newman Center is encouraged to visit https://www.newmancos.org/support-our-mission to make a tax-deductible donation, online or by mail. To learn more call 719-434-3019 or email info@NewmanCOS.org.