The Newman Center

The Newman Center

Quinn Artz, Staff Reporter

Every Sunday at 5 pm, the Fairmont State Newman Center hosts a local priest to perform mass. Located at 1200 College Park, this church is the hub of Catholic life on campus. Regardless of how long they have been on campus, many students do not know about the building directly across from the Bryant Place side parking lot. It may be believed that it is an area for Catholic students only, but the Newman Center serves the student community in more ways than just being a Catholic church. While it is mainly a gathering place for students to commune, study, and pray, the center also offers space for campus groups to hold meetings and gatherings. The lower floor has a lovely lounge space with a TV and couches, a usable kitchen, and free Wi-Fi, making the place perfect for studying or working on a project.

The Fairmont State Newman Center is one of many Newman Centers nationwide. Named after John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890), Newman Centers are designed to provide ministry to Catholic students at secular universities. Cardinal Newman was a prominent Anglican priest who converted to Catholicism in 1845. He was a notable theologian and an influential writer in the Catholic Church and was named Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879.  His writing regarding theology, philosophy, and education is still a known reference to modern Christian wisdom. Cardinal Newman was beatified, which is the state of being a holy person who goes to heaven after death, as declared by the Catholic church before sainthood, on September 19, 2010.

Three priests from the Fairmont area serve at the Newman Center: Reverend Binu Emmanuel of St. Patrick Church in Mannington and St. Peter Church in Farmington, Reverend Romeo Bacalso of St. Anthony in Fairmont and Holy Spirit Church in Monongah, and Reverend Kishore Varaparla of Immaculate Conception. These volunteer priests share the Word of God, distribute the Eucharist, and lead the students in prayer. While the priests run the service, the center is maintained by Campus Minister Dan Thele. Dan coordinates the events hosted by the church, runs the tables at student outreach events, hosts the dinners after mass, and works to provide a positive environment for students. With the help of his wife Carolynn and their beloved dog Fennchurch, a black golden doodle puppy, Lay Minister Dan promotes and guides the Catholic community here at Fairmont State University. “Everyone is welcome to come to mass,” says Dan Thele. “Students are also welcome to come just for the meal after mass or visit our community night!”

The Newman Center and its student organization Fairmont State Catholic Student Union hold a steady schedule of events. In addition to the weekly mass, community night is conducted on the lower floor of the center every Thursday at 7 pm. The activities range from movie nights to gaming sessions to chatting over pizza and more! This month, join the congregation for the dedication of the Newman Center’s chapel on April 11th, 2023, at 5:30 pm. Bishop Mark Brennan will be helping the church to dedicate the chapel to St. Gemma Galgani and participate in the following dinner. Any student groups wishing to use the space must contact Dan Thele at [email protected] or [email protected]. Groups of friends or individuals who would like to hang out there are also welcome to contact and ask about availability. Check the church’s website at for more information, or follow @fairmontstatenewman on Instagram.