The Newman Catholic Center Story
John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote, taught, and preached in the 19th century and spent many of his early years at Oxford University. After being raised in the Anglican Church and moving through a complex spiritual quest, he decided to become Catholic at age 42. He was ordained a priest four years later and served the Catholic Church with distinction as a prominent theologian. Cardinal Newman was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on September 19, 2010.
Here in San Luis Obispo, the Newman Club began at Cal Poly in the 1940’s as a group of students gathering in various campus spots. Beginning in the mid-1980’s, at the urging of Cal Poly President Dr. Warren Baker, the Diocese of Monterey made a more concerted effort to respond to the needs of Catholic students at Cal Poly and Cuesta College.
A Roman Catholic Church ministry was present at Cal Poly as early as 1948. In 1983, The Christian Brothers came to San Luis Obispo and started their ministry to college students in a rented office at the University Christian Center on Foothill Blvd. A series of the Brothers served as Directors of the Newman Center from 1983-1996. After fundraising efforts and staff growth, the University Christian Center became overcrowded. In 1985, the property at 1472 Foothill Boulevard was obtained and the Newman Center relocated to its present location.
The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet along with assistance from the Religious Sisters of the Sacred Heart staffed the Newman Center from 1996-2003. Following the sisters, the Marist Priests (Society of Mary) staffed the Newman Center for the years 2003-2017.
As of September 2017, the Newman Center came under the direction of the USA Jesuits West Province of the Society of Jesus. The current Director is Fr. Gerry Robinson SJ.
The Center continues its ministry working in partnership with local Catholic parishes, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey, and in conjunction with other religious groups through the Cal Poly Interfaith Campus Council. The Center serves students at Cuesta College and Cal Poly and builds up the community of the Body of Christ as it proclaims the Gospel and announces the Kingdom in Word, Sacrament and Service.
Newman Center Building
The Newman Center was originally a private home before being purchased by the Diocese of Monterey in 1985. After extensive remodeling in 1987, the facilities totaled 2,100 square feet with three offices, a spacious lounge area, a small chapel, kitchen, two restrooms, and a reception area. We also have a front fountain and garden area that was dedicated to the late Father Vince Walsh in April 1999, as well as a back lawn with two side patios.
The Center at 1472 Foothill Boulevard was a fine home for the Newman ministry but did not provide adequate space for Sunday worship. In 2012, construction began on a redesigned Newman Center, focused around a new chapel which allowed for celebration of Sunday Mass at the Center. Many generous benefactors helped to make this dream a reality through their financial support. The project was substantially completed by the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year. This “new” Center has greatly enriched the worship experience and has helped to build the Newman community.
Newman Center Staff
Student Advisory Board
The Student Advisory Board serves as a sounding board and communication tool for the staff of the Newman Center. The board periodically meets to discuss potential new programs and reevaluates current programs. The Board is being reconstituted and the membership roster will be published in October 2017.
The Newman Advisory Board has been established to be ambassadors of good will for Newman in the larger community, a body that reflects back to the Newman staff the perceptions of Newman in the larger community, a body that is supportive of the Newman staff and the programs Newman offers, and a group that assists the Newman effort in whatever ways they’re able. The board consists of:
Fr. Gerry Robinson, S.J., Newman Director
Linda Garcia-Inchausti, Director of Administration
Marilyn Olas, Community Member
Jeff Lambert, Newman Alumni
Grace Goschke, Cal Poly Professor
Carolyn Jones, Cal Poly Retired Career Services
Deacon Jim Burrows, Old Mission Parishioner