|Father Eamon Kelly, L.C. agrees that commuter colleges have special challenges.|
[To read this article in pdf format, follow this link].
The following report is from the Messenger (3/17/06),
newspaper of the Diocese of Covington, KY. It quotes extensively
from Legionary Father Eamon Kelly, assistant chaplain for the Newman Center (Catholic campus ministry) at Northern Kentucky University (NKU).
Regnum Christi members have helped Fr. Kelly and the
Newman Center in their outreach to Catholic students on the
By Laura Keener, Associate Editor of the Messenger
is a faith friendly place,” said Father Eamon Kelly, L.C.,
in a telephone interview March 13. Father Kelly is the
assistant chaplain at Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights.
Earlier that day
he and Msgr. Gilbert Rutz, diocesan vicar general and chaplain
for NKU, arranged for Bishop Roger Foys to meet with
NKU president Dr. James Votruba and tour the campus. Bishop
Foys also ate lunch with students in the cafeteria and
met with members of the newly formed NKU Newman Club.
Father Ryan Maher, assistant to the bishop, and Dan Schomaker,
seminarian for the diocese accompanied him.
Visiting “was important for me
because NKU is an important part of our entire community
and an important part of our Catholic community,” said Bishop
Foys. “It is my understanding that 35 percent of the
students attending NKU are Catholic. We certainly have an obligation
to tend to their needs.”
In the summer of 2005 Bishop
Foys appointed Msgr. Rutz chaplain of NKU and moved his
residence to the Newman Center. At the same time he
appointed Father Kelly assistant chaplain. Since then the Newman Club
has resurrected some previous activi¬ties and is working to establish
Mass has once again returned to the campus. Msgr.
Rutz celebrates Mass every Sunday evening at 7:30 p.m. on
campus. Students gather for Bible study and faith sharing afterward.
On Wednesdays, the once popular Spaghetti Dinner from 5:30-7:00 p.m.
has returned, with another Bible study opportunity following.
A new regular
initiative is Wednesday’s “Lunch with Padre.” “Lunch with Padre” affords
students, faculty and staff, the opportunity to have informal discussions
with Father Kelly in the cafeteria.
“I’m addressing everybody -- faculty,
staff; students -- everybody at the university, to serve the
people,” said Father Kelly. “Students can become very exhausted by
our modern society. They’re working, finding time for recreation, classes,
and study -- there is very little time left in
their day ... when you see them in the cafeteria
you can meet them where they’re at.”
One of the developments
coming out of “Lunch with Padre” is NKU Right to
Life. Nicole Smithson, sophomore, talked with Father Kelly at lunch
about her desire to work in the pro-life ministry. She
was president of the Life Club at Notre Dame Academy,
Park Hills, her senior year and felt called to continue
in the pro-life movement. She is now heading up the
fledgling club at NKU.
“I contacted my high school and got
a lot of brochures and information. We’ve had one meeting
and have started writing our bylaws,” said Ms. Smithson.
said she was encouraged by the response of students. Two
hundred indicated by e-mail that they were interested in participating.
Kramer, Newman Club president, is also working on a new
initiative for Lent -- “A Week of Passion.” From March
19—27 the Newman Club, cooperating with the Interfaith Council, will
have daily showings of Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of
the Christ,” with discussion following each showing. (See box for
Working with other faith-based clubs on campus is another
important aspect of Father Kelly’s ministry. The Newman Club and
other Christian clubs together celebrated the Week of Christian Unity
Jan. 18—25. And Father Kelly said he had a very
good meeting with the leader of the Jewish Student Organization.
“There are many areas we can work together,” said Father
Ms. Kramer said the biggest challenge facing the Newman Club
right now is getting the word out. Since many of
the students at NKU commute they may not stay on
campus for long after classes.
‘There are a lot of ideas
to do things, we just need to work on making
it more available to students,” she said.
Father Kelly agrees that
commuter colleges have special challenges, but he invites Catholic students,
and their home parishes, to look at the role of
the Catholic college student in a different way.
“It is important
that students have a sacramental base rooted in their parish
life. Our role [the parish community] is to be a
resource so they can fulfill their mission among their peers,”
said Father Kelly.
Father Kelly also believes that the Newman Club
is becoming more well known. The first campus Mass this
school year, celebrating All Saints Day, Nov. 1, attracted about
50 people. On Ash Wednesday over 170 people received ashes.
“So just in numbers the word is getting out,” he
For Ms. Kramer the best part about being a member
of the Newman Club is being able to share one‘s
faith among “the diversity of ideas that a college can
bring and [among] people your age, going through the exact
same things you are, on the same campus you are.
There are more ways to relate to each other.
said she was glad to meet Bishop Foys at lunch
and during the meeting with students. “It was awesome that
he was able to come and to connect with college
students. His presence, just being here, was great. Hopefully there
will be more opportunities for him to visit.”
Bishop Foys was
“I was impressed with the enthusiasm of the
students who belong to the Newman Club and are leading
the Newman Club. They seem very excited about what they
are doing and about their faith,” said Bishop Foys.
7, 2006 "The Messenger" published another article about the pastoral
work at NKU. You can read it here.