ORONO — Bishop Robert Deeley will visit the students, staff, and parishioners at the Newman Center when he visits the home for University of Maine Catholics on Sunday, March 27. The bishop will celebrate Mass at 6:15 p.m. at Our Lady of Wisdom Church, located on 83 College Avenue in Orono, and all are welcome to gather.

Opened in 1946, the Newman Center, located at Our Lady of Wisdom, has served as a spiritual home for active Catholics and place for non-Catholics to learn about the beauty of the faith, become rooted in prayer, and cultivate their faith lives. It’s a community that has inspired worship, service, and generosity for decades, including the current “Rebuild His Church” campaign, which is funding the needed renovation of the center among other projects at the Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord, of which Our Lady of Wisdom Church and the Newman Center are a part. Among the many improvements on the way at the Newman Center are:

  • a new multi-purpose space for meetings, ministries, and fellowship;
  • a quiet, beautiful narthex where one can transition into the presence of God;
  • separate entrances to the chapel and the main hall;
  • a chapel featuring a new sacristy, tabernacle, altar, ambo, and main crucifix;
  • a student lounge to encourage relaxation and community, including an outdoor deck extension;
  • a Marian garden with a statue of Our Lady of Wisdom; and
  • a steeple bell to ring out the joyful sound throughout the neighborhood that it is time for Mass, reminding all that the Lord is calling us to Him.

In addition, the other churches of the parish in Old Town, Bradley, and Indian Island will undergo a variety of improvements, spanning from structural repairs and painting to the repaving of parking lots. But the driving force behind the campaign is the Newman Center, the home of Black Bear Catholic (www.blackbearcatholic.org), Masses, Bible studies, adoration, community events, fellowship, and the enrichment of faith for people of all ages, but particularly those matriculating at the university directly across the avenue. Recent studies have shown that nearly 80% of young Catholics lose touch with their faith in their college years. This campaign, and this sacred place, aims to reverse that trend in its tracks. Masses at the center are held each Sunday at 11 a.m. (also 6:15 p.m. during the school year) and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Adoration is also held each Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and confessions are offered on Sundays from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesdays from 6:30-7:45 p.m. In addition, students can enjoy a meal for free each Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. (after the 6:15 p.m. Mass). Special meals are also offered during the school year like a Thanksgiving dinner the week before break, a brunch on Easter, and a Labor Day barbecue. And the students’ participation in service projects has been present since the day the center opened, as the Black Bears of today offer their time and talent at thrift stores, food pantries, community suppers, Ronald McDonald House, and to special initiatives like “Meals for Mamas,” which provides food to moms and families with a newborn.

“We are shepherding the faithful during their college careers, welcoming the inquisitive seeking faith, providing social ministry outreach, and fostering a sense of living a Catholic life at home and in service to the larger community,” said Fr. Kyle Doustou, pastor of Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord. “No campaign could be important than one that preserves the very place where that happens and ensures it exists to serve future generations.”

To learn more about the campaign, the Newman Center, and how you can help, visit www.blackbearcatholic.org/how-to-give.