"Superman," "the new Chuck Norris," "the next Pope": all three are names used by the Newman community to describe Khoi Che. These nicknames have not been given lightly—instead, they've been earned by this man loved by all. ... continue reading
Khoi is the youngest of five children, two of whom still live in Vietnam and another has passed away. In October 1995, Khoi, along with his mother and older sister, immigrated to the United States from Dalat, Vietnam. Only Khoi and his sister were allowed to accompany their mother because immigration laws only allowed her to bring over those who were under 21 years old. They came to Kent, Washington to reunite his mother's parents, who had immigrated shortly after the Vietnam War in 1975.
As Khoi started his sophomore year of high school at Kent-Meridian High School, he was in for a major culture shock. "There were many kids that didn't behave well, which was new because in Vietnam, schools are very strict," said Khoi. "We had to change classrooms between classes, which is something we did not do in Vietnam." Khoi was eventually able to learn English and how to act "American" through watching TV.
After graduating high school, Khoi went on to spend two years at Highline Community College, earning his Associate of Arts degree. Once he was done at Highline, Khoi transferred to UW's Tacoma campus to start working toward a Computer Science degree. He was at UW-Tacoma until the summer of 2002, which is when he came to the Seattle campus to finish his minor in Technical Communication.
The first church that Khoi went to at UW was not Newman. Instead, it was one of the churches on the Ave (University Way N.E.). "I had heard of Newman, but hadn't found it until one day when I got so stressed out with my homework that I took a walk, and somehow on the walk, I finally found Newman," said Khoi.
Khoi started going to Mass and eventually decided to attend the Undergraduate Retreat in fall 2002. On this retreat, he met people like Jason Tran, Chris Hanzeli, and Matt Eusterman, whom he credits with helping him feel more welcome at Newman. "People kept inviting me to things like Search and Yakima, and it helped me get involved," stated Khoi. He continued to get as involved as possible and eventually graduated in winter 2005.
Since graduation, Khoi has worked with Boeing as a software engineer. Though Khoi had left school behind, he didn't leave Newman. During this past year Khoi was still an active part of the Newman community. He sang in the 7 p.m. choir, was a sponsor for a young man going through the RCIA program, and went on the Yakima Alternative Spring Break trip for the first time since he graduated.
Sadly for the Newman community, Khoi was relocated to Dallas, Texas, by Boeing in May 2010. He does come back to the Seattle area and Newman every two or three weeks because he loves it so much. Before leaving, Khoi had some words of wisdom for today's Newman students: "Keep searching even if you struggle, because there is an answer—especially if you keep searching for it. And remember, your friends are searching with you and you don't have to go on this journey alone," Khoi explained, "and don't let go of these friendships you are making. Keep in touch; Newman is full of great people."
(Article from the Summer 2010 Newsletter.)
John and Lisa Brondello
John, Lisa, and their four children--Maria, 13, Johnny, 11, Anthony, 8, and Julia, 5--are some of the most fun-loving people you'll ever meet. Devoted Catholics and die-hard Huskies, the Brondellos are a part of Newman's glory resurgent years of the 1990s that helped shape and build the foundation for our great ministry today. ... continue reading
John, born and raised on Mercer Island, followed his parents and the rest of their family into the Catholic Church when he was just a boy. After attending Eastside Catholic and Mercer Island High Schools, he chose the University of Washington, where he would earn a degree in Economics.
Like many, his Catholic faith had waned during high school and it wasn't a priority when he started at the UW. "My faith was really wishy-washy. I wasn't against it; I was just really lukewarm toward it. I don't know if I was even going to Mass regularly during that time."
In hindsight, John could see God working in his life, drawing him back to active participation in his faith. In 1988, the Newman Center was run exclusively out of Blessed Sacrament, and once a week the students would gather there for the "Newman Mass". "Once I was introduced to the Newman community I kept going back, even after I went through a devastating breakup with my girlfriend. The community really made you feel included and supported, and by then, that was where all of my friends were. And, as a bonus, there were a lot of cute girls there!"
John's involvement in Newman steadily grew. In 1989 he spent a lot of time at the "Mark House," Newman's newly purchased house near campus for the first two peer ministers, Mark Antush and Mark Fletcher. It was there that he started attending the Wednesday 9 p.m. candlelight Mass.
The location closer to campus and the introduction of peer ministers meant the students had easy access to a place to socialize as well as practice their faith. Within a year the Acacia Fraternity was purchased on the intersection of 45th Street and 20th Avenue, greatly expanding their space. It was in 1990 that John was approached by Fr. Brendan McAnerney, O.P., to be one of the peer ministers for the new location.
John recalled affectionately, "It never crossed my mind to be a peer minister, but the priests just had this way of stating, 'Well, you are going to be applying, aren't you?' that really left no room for argument. The Dominicans were really great. Before meeting them, my impression of a priest was not one that would go out and play football with you. I never thought they were 'real people,' so to speak; I just thought they prayed and read religious books all day. It was a revelation to me at that time that I could have a personal friendship with a priest."
So in the fall of 1990, John moved in to the Newman Center (the old Acacia Fraternity) with fellow peer ministers Sherri Hlas and Roberta Jacobs. There were few luxuries in those early days of Newman. At that time there was no carpet in the building, and they slept on old mattresses on the floor with leftover fraternity trash piled in corners. "One day [the radiator] would just be incredibly hot, and the next it would be absolutely freezing. We never did figure out how it worked," said John.
It wasn't until later that the fourth peer minister arrived, Pat Sullivan. John mentioned with a grin, "We heard this guy from Texas was coming up, but we never knew when. One day, Pat showed up, and we're still great friends today." With the team assembled, John, Pat, Roberta, and Sherri went about starting Newman ski trips, the first annual Newman Formal, SEARCH retreats, volleyball games, tabling on campus, and a host of other social and religious activities for the students.
You might be wondering where Lisa is in all of this. A cradle Catholic, Lisa grew up in Clyde Hill where she lived during college and attended Mass at her local parish, Sacred Heart. "My family, the Gockels, were builders in Clyde Hill and Mercer Island, and all of my brothers and sisters chose to go to the UW. My father joked that he should have built houses closer to the UW to save on the commute!"
Lisa's days were spent in class working toward her Broadcast Journalism degree, commuting home by bus, and working as a ski instructor for the UW, with little time in between. Yet, she had always hoped she would find a great Catholic guy to marry at the UW and wanted a family more than a career. "I was definitely planning on getting my MRS degree," she said with a smile. She had always known the Newman Center existed but had never sought it out--until one fateful day.
"My little freshman brother had stopped by the Newman table in the HUB. He signed up for their mailing list and a short while later received a Newman events calendar in the mail. I happened to notice it one day and saw they were planning a ski trip for the one and only day off I had from ski instructing, so I decided to go. I thought to myself, 'If I could just meet a nice Catholic guy that skied, life would be great.'"
It was definitely not love at first sight. Lisa had arrived at Newman to carpool for the ski trip when she saw John walk in, now the Student Council Social Chair. "In comes this tall guy, with a mullet, wearing all black. I sized him up right away as a washed up, 28-year-old, loser rocker, super senior who just wanted to party," Lisa recalled, laughing. "And I never even noticed her," John added with a smile.
Lisa, despite wondering if she'd wasted her one day off, decided to go anyway. It wasn't until their lunch break that she had the chance to really talk with him. Then, as the most advanced skiers, John and Lisa headed up the slopes together and began to talk more. As fate would have it, they soon realized they had actually met years ago in high school on a double date. The real irony? Lisa's old boyfriend, Eric, was now John's roommate. They were shocked. (Later, Eric served as best man in their wedding.) "Four days later we were dating," said John. Added Lisa, "I was boy crazy, gushing to my parents over the phone about this Catholic ski boy I had met."
After going to Mass, and then on their first date, John and Lisa knew something special was bringing them together. For the next year and a half not a day went by that they weren't together. As things got more serious, Lisa's older brother encouraged her to remember where things were leading: marriage. Facing the reality that she would have to move to start her broadcasting career, she made one of the hardest decisions of her life: she decided to forgo her career to stay close to John. And then the day came.
On the day of the Newman formal, January 29, 1993, the same day they had started dating a year before, John asked Lisa to marry him. "I just said, 'You'll make a wonderful father,'" Lisa recalled. Over 200 people from Newman attended their wedding on July 31, 1993.
Their faith continues to be the rock of their relationship. John is a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus. Lisa has been a Confirmation Program group leader for over 11 years. The entire family is actively involved at their parish, St. Monica, with their two oldest children altar serving on a regular basis, and the entire family volunteers hundreds of hours annually to the school and various programs. This year, all four of the Brondello children are attending St. Monica School. Both agree that Newman was a critical community of support for them and see in hindsight just how much God was working in their lives.
"College is your first chance to really decide if your faith is your own. Newman provides that place where you can hang out and celebrate your faith at the same time. You could find a place [to socialize] that is Godly, or a place that isn't. Both may give you friends, community, and support, but which one is really going to fulfill your life and bring you closer to God?" asked John.
"It's a place for faith and fun!" added Lisa. "When I walked into the Newman Center, the community just drew me in and kept me coming back. I was somewhat isolated at home during college, and if I hadn't got involved in the Newman Center, who knows what might have happened to my faith down the road."
Clearly, John and Lisa count themselves blessed to have found each other--and the Newman Center is honored to be a part of their wonderful story.
(Article from the Winter 2010 Newsletter.)
Tisa is always smiling. And she's always asking to help. Chances are, if you've attended a Newman event in the last fifteen years, you've met Tisa. She's one of those people that just can't be idle, and she certainly can't sit back if someone's in need. Her love of her faith and her insatiable desire to help are an inspiration. ... continue reading
A cradle Catholic and the daughter of Filipino immigrants, Tisa grew up in southern California with her two sisters. When it was time to pick a college in 1995 she decided early on that she wanted to stay on the West Coast.
"I wanted to go somewhere where they had seasons and where I could finally wear sweaters! Little did I know that Seattle has two seasons: rain and summer. (It's fortunate that I like the rain!) I am also a West Coast girl so I knew I wanted to stay on this side of the country. The University of Washington has a great academic reputation and I knew that I would get a good education regardless of what degree I picked." Her first day on campus had her rethinking her choice. "I walked onto campus and just said, 'Oh my. What am I thinking--I don't know anybody!' It was both fear and excitement." Soon the freshman jitters passed and Tisa was on her way, working towards a B. A. in Political Science. With all the new experiences, her Catholic faith was not high on the list of priorities.
That first quarter, however, her Catholic roommate prompted her to try going to the Newman Center, so Tisa went. "The minute I walked in the door, I remember feeling a sense of community, even in that little old basement of the old building. Fr. Tom DeMan and Fr. Jordan Bradshaw welcomed everyone and they made Newman feel like a second home for a lot of students."
Students so often find that "first impression" feeling to be what keeps them coming back. "When I first came to Newman I also met the peer ministers: Dawn, Christina, Andy, Eric, Chad, and Jim Hochstein. Well, Jim wasn't a peer minister then, but how can you go to the Newman Center and not meet Jim? I remember thinking that it was so cool that there were student leaders and so many ways to participate."
Tisa's first impression served her well, and she started to get involved in the Newman Center's activities: retreats, bible studies, socials, Mass, and more.
"It was so cool to me to see that we were all college kids living our faith together. It wasn't a preachy environment, but one where you felt you could legitimately and safely ask questions and journey through your faith together. We all may have had different ways to walk on the path, but you could see we were all headed in the same direction. It really gave me a good foundation and helped me to realize that there are great alternatives to the stereotypical 'college experience' .
Through her time at Newman, Tisa collected many memorable experiences, especially serving as a peer minister. "Serving as a peer minister was a great experience. The priests really took care of us and we worked so well together. Fr. Jordan really encouraged me, and he was the reason I even applied. I never felt like I was work-working, but serving for a purpose. You see just how much you're able to make a difference in the community, and it meant a lot."
Tisa has so many happy memories from her Newman college days that it's hard to pick just one. From instigating water fights and sneaking into Dooley House (with some Newman ladies not to be named) to filling up the kitchen with packing peanuts and impromptu dance parties, Newman provided a strong community in which to grow and deepen her faith.
Tisa's Newman experience left a lasting impression on her--something she carried with her to law school in Salem. "Even though I never really found a strong Catholic community to join in Oregon, my Newman experience and the faith I gained there really got me through those law school years."
Since her return, Tisa's willingness to lend a hand and get involved blossomed even more as she joined the Centennial Committee and RCIA team where she has become an instrumental leader for the group.
"It's true what they say: once a peer minister, always a peer minister. That year of service really has inspired me to do whatever I can whenever I can and just do my best to be helpful and serve those around me. Because that's exactly what other Newman people have done for me. I see it in the peer ministers now; you're just wired to respond when you see a need. And once they're ready to leave the Newman Center and join a parish elsewhere, they become leaders there, too. It's great! I'm truly honored to be a part of such a wonderful community."
Tisa has been, and continues to be, an instrumental member of the community, giving back that faith and spirit of service that has shaped her adult life for the better. And what does the future hold for Tisa? Well, she's not sure, but she does know what she'd like to see at Newman.
"I would love to see Newman bring back community housing for students. Living in community with other Catholic students was not only fun, but such a spiritual help as we all felt like we could count on each other when we needed something."
And to those students who might be hesitating to come to Newman, like Tisa did? "Don't hesitate! Come! Don't be afraid to try different experiences within Newman to get involved. Sometimes it takes a little time to find your niche in the community, but there's something for everyone and there's always room for you!"
(Article from the Summer 2009 Newsletter.)
Duane and Agnes Anstett
Sixty-seven years of marriage and nearly 100 years of life; everything about the Anstetts is inspiring. They're two of the most genuine, soft spoken, and kind people you've ever met, and listening to them share their life story makes you feel like you're watching a classic romance movie of the 1950s. ... continue reading
Woven with faith, love, challenges, and hope, the story of the Anstetts and their time at the Newman Center is one that brings to life the beauty of this community and the profound effects it has on people's lives. Two of the longest-living Newman alumni, the Anstetts have a story together that began right in Newman's living room in 1939.
Duane (Dewey to his friends) was born in Fargo, North Dakota, in 1916 and arrived in Seattle in 1936 to attend the UW, picking the Huskies over MIT. "Back then, as long as you had good grades, you could get in to pretty much any college. MIT and the UW were equidistant to Fargo so it really didn't matter to me." Once he arrived, Dewey joined the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and settled in quickly. "The fraternity was fun--a great social place," Dewey fondly recalled. "But there were no women. That's one of the reasons we went to the Newman Club."
"Newman was great for dating," added Agnes with a smile. Agnes (Aggie to her friends), born in 1921 and raised in Seattle, had seen the UW in her future for some time. "My family had a connection to the university, so they really wanted me to go there. We also had family ties to the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, so I joined there as well in 1939. Ironically, the sorority's back door opened up to the Newman Club."
The Newman Center, known as the Newman Club during the Anstetts' time, was located in a house affectionately referred to as "the little brown house" at 45th St. and 16th Ave. Housing women residents upstairs (no boys allowed!) and a small chapel, the main floor was reserved for Newman meetings and activities.
Dewey and Aggie were very involved in religion classes and attending Mass, socials, and other events; Dewey even served a term as the Newman Club's vice president. It was during their time in the late 1930s and 1940s that two of Newman's most memorable priests were chaplains. Fr. Francis Pope, O.P., and Fr. William Dooley, O.P., are legends in the minds of many Newman alumni, including the Anstetts. Fr. Pope was the first provincial chaplain of the NW Chapter of Newman Clubs and instrumental in starting the Newman Foundation to assist with financial needs. Fr. Dooley, of "Dooley Award" fame, taught UW-accredited philosophy classes at Newman, and he was as prominent at Newman as he was on the sports field or skiing. As the Anstetts say, "He was one of the greatest priests."
Dewey and Aggie recall with great fondness the day their story together began--right in the Newman living room. "I had come to the Newman Club one day with a friend," Aggie said, "and had just walked in, when from the other side of the room walked in Dewey and one of his friends. The four of us passed by each other in the middle of the room and introduced ourselves. Then Dewey shook my hand. I was so impressed he shook my hand. I never forgot that." "Later, I went home and told my fraternity brothers that I thought I had just met the woman I was going to marry," Dewey commented. "And I did the same thing the same day," added Aggie, "I went and told my friends I was certain I had met the man I was going to marry."
That chance meeting--or perhaps not so chance--was a blessing that sparked 67 years of devoted and loving marriage, nine children, and 21 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As the Anstetts say, they "never have a lonely moment." Children are their greatest blessing and they're very grateful they all get along. "We get to see one of our children about every day. We tell each of them they're our favorite."
Like with many couples before and after the Ansetts, the Newman Center played an important role in their relationship, giving them a "home away from home" and nurturing a deep faith within them. "Aggie is easy to live with," Dewey commented. "Our marriage has been blessed with a good sense of humor and a common faith. Our shared faith makes all the difference. It gives you a concrete foundation to build on. The Newman Center was a big part of that, and we have many fond memories of our time there together."
And after 70 years as Newman alumni, they have some advice for students and the Newman Center: stay strong. "The Newman Center must stay strong; pray the Church stays strong. And continue to make sure the Newman Center is close to campus and has good activities and programs to draw students in," offered Aggie. "The best thing the Newman Center has going for them are the Dominicans," added Dewey.
It's clear when speaking with the Anstetts that they cherish not only each other, but their faith, marriage, and family as well. It's truly beautiful to see a husband and wife after 67 years of marriage still sharing simple acts of love: saying please and thank you, helping each other to their seats, holding hands.
And Dewey still clutches in his pocket the rosary Aggie gave him just before he joined the military in January 1941. He carried it with him as he flew missions over both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans looking for submarines, and he still carries it today. And Aggie still holds Dewey's hand with the same love and pride for her husband as she did the day they first met in the Newman Center living room where he impressed her with his handshake.
Dewey and Aggie started their life together at the Newman Center and found love, a lifelong friendship, and a rich faith. If you're a student thinking about stopping by the Newman Center, take their advice and "just drop on in and give it a try. The people you meet there are really nice!"
The Anstetts are certainly proof of that.
(Article from the Winter 2009 Newsletter.)
Ruth and Denis Hayner
When Ruth and Denis Hayner's son moved to Seattle to attend graduate school at the University of Washington, they decided to forgo their East Coast life to be near him and his family. They began attending the Newman Center back when Fr. Tom DeMann presided from the infamous frat house, and though their son eventually moved away from Seattle and the Center, Ruth and Denis stayed. ... continue reading
"The sermons are meaningful here--they give you more to think about."
Ruth and Denis love Newman. Along with our world-famous Dominican preaching, they enjoy the energy and vitality of the students, calling it their weekly dose of college life. Their genuine care for the community and the students is as strong as it is humble. Even during the interview, my plans, proposed major, job, etc. kept coming up--as though it would be more natural to get to know me than for me to get to know and write about them. They believe in keeping Newman student-focused and student-run. "Ask some of the quiet people to do things; give them tasks. We're happy to do it, but we want the students to be able to."
The students here have reciprocated the Hayner's interest in them. Ruth fought and survived cancer a few years ago. During that time, she strongly felt the love and concern of the student community, especially when she received sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Many Newmanites attended the service, and the laying on of hands powerfully impacted her. Today she is cancer free and empathizes with Fr. Tom Kraft's own fight occurring now.
"Accept everyone. I find everyone interesting."
From the rich to the poor, Ruth and Denis enjoy getting to know people. The most impactful sources of their faith life are the homilies on Sunday, reading the Bible, and attending community retreats. Accepting everyone as they are, from richest to poorest, and believing that the Holy Spirit is God within everyone composes the fabric of Ruth and Denis. Denis quoted part of Fr. Jose's Trinity Sunday homily regarding the Holy Spirit and added, "When you have something to work through, something to decide or resolve, it helps to listen. Ask the Holy Spirit what you should do. And if you get an idea, listen. Is it the Holy Spirit?"
Ruth and Denis are currently selling their house so they can move up north to be near their son and his family. Their presence in our community will be missed.
(Article from the Fall 2008 Newsletter.)
Pat and Margaret Sullivan
Pat and Margaret Sullivan are familiar faces at the UW Newman Center. As permanent Newman community members, they've been around for awhile, Margaret since 1989 and Pat since 1990. Pat is a carpenter and works for a remodeler as well as does custom cabinets and furniture (next time you see him, thank him for building the altar and choir platforms). Margaret is an insurance broker. Here is their Newman story: ... continue reading
How did you get involved in Newman and why?
P: In 1990, after being involved in Campus Ministry at Texas A&M University, I decided to check out graduate school at the University of Washington. While here, I inquired about Catholic Campus Ministry and found out they were looking for another peer minister for the recently acquired fraternity building. They gave me "the nod" and I stuck around for 17 years.
M: The Newman Center found me by way of an upstairs neighbor at the Queen Anne apartment complex where I lived. She was having a party, extended an invitation and the majority of the guests were Catholics attending the Newman Center. Who knew Catholics could be so fun? I attended Mass, movie nights and classes with then Archbishop Murphy. I played softball and volleyball with Newmanites--there's nothing like having a priest on the opposite side of the net, spiking the ball at your head.
How are you involved with the Newman Center today?
P: Originally, another parishioner, Howard Miller, approached me about building a chair and table he had designed to match the altar and lectern. But with rotating directors, that project got shelved. However, when Fr. José learned that I am a carpenter, he told me about several ideas he had including the platform. We had hoped to finish it by the beginning of Advent but like any typical remodel, we had to just settle for getting it done before Christmas.
M: Currently, I co-chair the RCIA/Confirmation Team with an amazing woman, Tisa Escobar (who is not Hawaiian, by the way). I am also on the Parish Advisory Council. Together, Pat and I meet with engaged couples as part of their marriage preparation. We review their FOCUS Survey, facilitating their discussion of the various topics.
How did you meet?
P: We met through mutual friends at Newman and played volleyball and softball together.
M: I started attending Newman in 1989. Pat was introduced as a peer minister (by way of Texas A&M) in the Fall of 1990. My first impression of him was that he had the proper shoes for Seattle. He was wearing duck shoes – those rubber ones with the rounded toes and laces.
Describe your most memorable Newman event.
P: Too many retreats and activities to mention but Easter Vigil with the RCIA class is always special.
M: There are so many memorable Newman events that have touched my heart. From Mass at the old Mark House which was the first Newman Center, to the fraternity house, to the Grand Opening Celebration of the new Center. The dances and parties; watching many friends meet, fall in love, and marry; the retreat planning; seeing people come to know the Lord through RCIA/Confirmation; attending Mass with those you love.
How did Newman shape who you are today?
P: It has emphasized the importance of living your faith in community. It is in ministering to others and being ministered to that we grow closer to Christ.
M: "You're only as good as the company you keep". So many wonderful people have passed through the Newman Church doors- -some for 4 years while they were students, others who are permanent community members like me. All of us are on a Faith Journey. We learn from each other, we grow in our love for our community and our love for the Lord. We pray together, help each other during times of struggles and celebrate our triumphs. From all of these people, these things, this Faith, I continue to learn, to love, to be challenged.
Why did you decide to become permanent community members and stay on at Newman even after graduating from UW?
P: I stayed at Newman for the vitality and energy of the community. Also, because I dragged my wife, kicking and screaming, to the parish up in our neighborhood but finally gave in and came back to Newman.
M: Unfortunately, I did not attend the Newman Center when I was a student. Finding it after graduation was a blessing. For all of the reasons noted in the previous response, I stay at Newman. It is a faith-filled community and I am always amazed and awed by someone or something in the community. Whether it is watching an Easter Vigil baptism, hearing beautiful voices sing a hymn of praise, attending a wedding, or holding my husband's hand during Mass, I feel at peace and at home surrounded by God's Love, filled with the Holy Spirit.
(Article from the Winter 2008 Newsletter.)
Father Frank Schuster
Father Frank Schuster was appointed to serve as pastor of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Church in Woodinville starting July 1, 2007. Ordained to the presbyterate in 1999, Fr. Frank has served the Archdiocese of Seattle for 8 years, as a campus minister, parochial vicar, and pastor in Bellingham, WA. He attended the University of Washington and the Newman Center from 1990 to 1994, graduating with a degree in psychology, and received his Masters in Divinity and Licentiate in Sacred Theology at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois. ... continue reading
How did you get involved in the Newman Center and why?
A friend of mine told me about the Newman Center. He invited me to come to Mass on Sunday. He introduced me to the people in the choir. They found out I played guitar. I was playing guitar in the choir the very next week, and every week following. As a young person, I hadn't learned yet that the first and foremost reason why you go to mass is for Jesus, present in the Holy Eucharist. The truth is, I was "hooked" into the Newman Center community by making friends through service opportunities. These relationships helped me grow closer to God.
Describe your most memorable Newman moment.
The most memorable moment was with Fr. Thomas DeMan. We were downstairs in the old Acacia House. There was a kitchen and a good sized rectangle shaped dining room down there. He told me his intention to make this space the new Newman chapel and that the wall and kitchen had to go. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "OK". He shows up minutes later with a sledge hammer and starts breaking down the wall between the kitchen and dining area to create a larger space. Things moved quickly at Newman with Fr. Thomas around. I was honored to be ordained a deacon in that very chapel in December of 1998. Today I am pastor of a parish (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta) that will be tearing down a barn on our property and building a church and school soon. Like Fr. Thomas, I have my sledgehammer close at hand.
How did Newman shape who you are today as a person?
The Newman Center played a profound role as to who I am today. Everyone needs healthy friendships, especially at the UW. The friendships I made at the Newman Center however were also healthy in that they challenged me to mature as a person and grow in my relationship with God and neighbor.
Did the Newman Center influence your decision to become a priest?
Both the Newman Center Community and Fr. Thomas played a role in my decision to become a priest. It started with being asked by the Newman Center leadership to be a peer minister in my sophomore year. I enjoyed that year. I enjoyed tasting what ministry was like, it felt good to be of service to others and having the opportunity to deepen my Catholic faith. I made a lot of friendships. There are two kinds of friendship you can have at the University of Washington, friendships that help you grow as a human being and friendships that don't. My time at the Newman Center therefore helped me to prepare me for the next step in my life. Fr. Thomas did have a positive effect on my development as a disciple of Jesus Christ. There are about ten priests in my life that influenced me to consider the priesthood and Fr. Thomas is certainly one of them.
Do you have any advice for first-time Newmanites on how to make the most of their experience?
Get involved. Get involved. Get involved. I know it sounds "cliché". Again, there are two kinds of friendships you can have at the University of Washington, friendships that help you grow in your discipleship of Jesus Christ and those that don't. How do you make good friendships if you don't get involved? Next, go to Mass even when you don't want to. First, you will feel glad that you did. Second, your presence at Mass supports the other people who are at Mass. The question shouldn't be, "what am I getting out of Mass, the Newman Center, or the University?" The question should be, "what am I doing to help support others in their faith journey at Mass, at the Newman Center, at the University?"
(Article from the Fall 2007 Newsletter.)