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Innovation and Inspiration on Wheels: Legionary Father Michael Goodyear´s "SUV Popemobile" in the Catholic Sun.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted blessing the Pope Mobile.
Bishop Thomas Olmsted blessing the Pope Mobile.
The following article, written by Andrew Junker, was posted in the September 6, 2007 issue of the Phoenix diocesan newspaper, the Catholic Sun.

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A college campus is accustomed to high-speed objects flying across its grounds: students bicycling down the mall, professors hurrying to their next class, a popemobile disseminating campus ministry information...

OK, so only students at ASU Polytechnic in Mesa will experience that last example.

That’s because Legionary of Christ Father Michael Goodyear, chaplain of ASU Polytechnic’s John Paul II Newman Center, recently outfitted his SUV with pictures and messages of his office’s namesake.

“When Bishop [Thomas J.] Olmsted asked me to come to the Polytechnic and initiate campus ministry, there was no history of anything there,” Fr. Goodyear said.

“We didn’t have an office space, no Newman Center. There was no list of Catholic students,” he said. “We had nothing.”

Many of those challenges remain for Fr. Goodyear, who is entering his second year as chaplain at Arizona State University’s east campus.

He still has no office on campus, but he did manage to procure one on wheels.

“We thought, ‘What can we do to get the word out that we’re there and create a buzz on campus and have a space?’” he said. “What’s in our grasp is a vehicle.”

He drives his “popemobile” on campus and it serves as advertisement for the Newman Center and as a mobile office.

“I’m trying to be as visible as possible,” the chaplain said.

Building from the ground up

Founding a Newman Center or a parish in any circumstance is difficult, Fr. Goodyear said, but the nature of ASU Polytechnic presents its own challenges.

The sprawling Mesa campus has very few students who live on site. Most are commuters who attend classes and leave. Fostering community on campus has been difficult.

“Getting started is not easy. At
Fr. Michael Goodyear stands outside his “popemobile” Aug. 15. The SUV serves as an advertisement and mobile office for the chaplain at ASU Polytechnic.
Fr. Michael Goodyear stands outside his “popemobile” Aug. 15. The SUV serves as an advertisement and mobile office for the chaplain at ASU Polytechnic.
the beginning, it’s going to be slow, so I’ve tried to encourage the students to work with it,” Fr. Goodyear said.

“Bishop Olmsted has brought to mind in a couple of his helpful, fatherly moments that this is the mustard seed,” he said. “It’s going to take time.”

That’s why the popemobile is so important. It gives the students something to rally around, he said.

“We want to take it out hiking and, in the tradition of John Paul II, kayaking, as he would so often do with his students. We even have visions of flipping the kayak upside down and celebrating Mass on it like he did,” Fr. Goodyear said.

But the popemobile reaches beyond the campus, too.

“It’s evangelization 24/7,” Fr. Goodyear said.

He has gotten positive notice from drivers on the Loop 101 and in a Kinko’s parking lot. Catholics come up to him and share how much the late pope meant to them.

The car also features oft-repeated messages of John Paul. “Do not be afraid” and “God is with you” adorn the Toyota FJ Cruiser’s doors.

“It might just be a reminder that somebody needs on the freeway or in the streets or parked at the grocery store,” Fr. Goodyear said.

This coming school year, Fr. Goodyear hopes to build on last year’s successes, like the Thanksgiving Mass and dinner he hosted for the students and the outdoor Stations of the Cross on the campus’s front lawn.

“This year we’re going to add an activity called Newman at Noon. It’s a discussion on topics that have something to do with Christianity, faith and morals,” he said. “Just bring your lunch, bring your Bible and we can have a discussion.”

Newman at Noon is going to be student-led, which is important for campus ministry, Fr. Goodyear said. He has worked with students for 13 years and has found great things happen when he challenges students “concretely into taking the Church and her mission into their hands.”

Thankfully, the chaplain has found a few students ready to take on that responsibility.

Freshman Anthony Mancuso said he got involved in the Newman Center because of the community it helps build.

“There are so many ups and downs associated with college that it is comforting to know that there is a community and a God always there to support you no matter what the situation is,” he said.

Rachel Knebelsberger, also a freshman, agreed.

“Often when students go off to college, they are faced with the decision of whether or not they want to continue practicing their faith,” she said. “Campus ministry creates a community of support for students and it also makes living a life of faith fun.”

Fostering supportive friendships is the highest priority for Fr. Goodyear.

“These are years for a lot of people that determine how they’re going to live the rest of their lives,” he said. “If they have good friends, they do well. They thrive.”

And that’s something that can be accomplished with or without office space. Though having a mobile office dedicated to John Paul II certainly doesn’t hurt.

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Article reprinted with permission, copyright 2007 The Catholic Sun,

To learn more about Fr. Michael Goodyear and the John Paul II Newman Center at the ASU Polytechnic in Phoenix, click here.



Related links web site
Mission Network
Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center and the Center for Family Development
Changing Hearts
Cancun-Chetumal Prelature
Helping Hands Medical Missions

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