To be transformed through an encounter with the Spirit of Truth and the Love of God
St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center was founded in 1926 as the Newman Club to serve the University of Arizona Catholic community. They met in a small house with a chapel for prayer and fellowship located near 3rd Street and Cherry, where Flandrau Planetarium is now located. Fr. Frederic Curry was the first Newman Chaplain in Residence and worked with Tucson’s Bishop Gercke to break ground on an expanded Newman Center in 1951. The Center had a 50 seat chapel, a 300 seat hall, cafeteria, library, two priest’s offices, admin offices, and student offices. The Curry Classroom is named in honor of Fr. Curry’s leadership.
On May 10, 1964 the current Newman Center was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Francis Green under the direction of Newman chaplain Fr. Robert Graff. The Diocese of Tucson purchased the land from the University of Arizona causing some controversy at the time about the role of religion on the campuses of public universities. It includes the site where our chapel is now located as well as adjacent cottages and adobe apartments that are now our administrative offices, convent for the sisters and student apartments.
In 1968 Bishop Green invited the Dominicans of the Central Province to serve as Chaplains. This administration transferred to the Western Dominican Province in 1980 with Fr. Tom DeMan serving as Pastor. The Newman Center has also been served by the Dominican Sisters of Oakford and currently Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. The Order of Preachers’ charism has four pillars that guide all of the ministries at the Newman Center: Prayer, Community, Service and Preaching
What is a Newman Center?
A Newman Center is a Catholic campus ministry at a public university, which seeks to allow Catholic students to attend a public university with an environment and community that supports their Catholic faith and encourages them to grow deeper in faith and relationship with God. Newman Centers began in 1883 when a group of students at the University of Wisconsin decided to meet regularly to discuss their faith after encountering professors who criticized the Catholic Church. These types of clubs spread to other public universities, but didn’t have the Newman name until a student club in 1893 at the University of Pennsylvania decided to name theirs after Saint John Henry Newman, who was an English Cardinal and scholar in the 1800s.
To find out more about Saint John Henry Newman, go to Saints.SQPN.com.
Who is St. Thomas More?
St. Thomas More was an English lawyer and statesman (Lord Chancellor) until he was martyred in 1535. Find out more at Saints.SQPN.com.