Thursday, 14 February 2013 10:47
By Molly Martin
Renovations are complete at the St. Paul Parish and Newman Center at Wichita State University. The seven-month Renaissance Project began on July 9.
The renovations were completed on Jan. 25, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, said Father John Hay, pastor. “One of the beautiful realities that communicates is that while the physical building underwent a conversion of sorts, the reason the building exists in the first place is to help us realize an interior conversion of mind and heart that must always go on.”
Bishop Michael O. Jackels celebrated the solemn Mass of dedication of the new altar and blessing of the renovated facility on Friday, Jan. 25. Students, alumni, and priests from the diocese filled the sanctuary for the celebration.
“The dedication of the altar was a historic event for the parishioners and college students of St. Paul Newman Center,” said Fr. Hay. “Most memorable is the great reflection on the dedication of an altar that Bishop Jackels gave at his homily for the dedication Mass. He reminded us that when we go before the earthly altar, it is a foretaste and shadow of the altar in heaven. What we do on earth is connected to the worship that goes on in heaven. The whole evening was special, and not to be forgotten any time soon.”
The completed facility includes a large church area, a library/conference room, new classroom, and upstairs restroom facilities. The renovation, he said, increased the hospitality of the physical structure and made it much more functional.
“It is wonderful being in the renovated facility,” Fr. Hay said. “One of the most fulfilling experiences of the whole project was to see the incredible excitement in the eyes of the college students and parishioners when the finished reality was unveiled. This whole thing was not a ‘want,’ but even the word ‘need’ falls short of capturing the importance of this project.”
The altar, ambo, and sanctuary furnishings were donated by friends of the Newman Center and handmade by St. Paul parishioner, Joe Brungardt. In addition, a large painting of the Conversion of St. Paul by Newman Center student Sarah Linnebur is on a wall across from the altar. The heating and air conditioning system, original to the facility built in 1967, was also replaced.
“It (the heating and air system) was slightly out-of-date and unable to compete with the number of bodies in the building; and it was especially uncomfortable in the summer,” Fr. Hay said. “It took a considerable amount of the project budget to replace the aged system, but the comfort of those who will worship, study, and recreate here outweighs the cost. We know that many more college students will be drawn by the hospitality offered at the Newman Center.”
With the renovations complete, the challenge of raisings funds to cover the portion of the project that remains unfunded is imminent.
“We have a daunting challenge ahead,” said Fr. Hay. “There is still a good portion of the project that is unfunded, as nearly $270,000 still has to be raised. With increased student participation and therefore an increased operating budget this is a challenge to meet, especially since a large portion of our population is comprised of college students. It’s not too late to help us. It’s not too late to see the future.”
There is still a little more work to do
Father John Hay said the project is complete but some of the work isn’t finished, he still needs to raise $278,000.
“Our mission is to help our students stay Catholic in college,” he said. “We really need the help of the diocesan community as we are a mission and apostolate of the diocese and serve students from every parish in the city.”
Those who wish to help finish paying for the renovation may mail checks made out to “The St. Paul Parish & Newman Center,” or contact him at (316) 684-6896 or email