Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 13, 2006
Campus club members explore Catholic identity
Faith-filled Newman Club challenges minds, welcomes souls
- Photo by Bill Glen
Chris Rehman and Angela Espelo are two Newman Club mainstays at St. Joseph's College.
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Chris Rehman attended his first meeting of the Newman Club out of curiosity. He had just begun his bachelor of education studies at the U of A. He was shy and knew no one on campus.
Now, four years later, he is the club's president. And he smiles with confidence.
"There is a sense of community within the club. I want to keep it going," said Rehman, 22.
"The club is a safe environment where you can talk about your faith. You learn more about your faith through the various topics," he said. "You learn how to live out your Catholic identity in whatever profession you choose."
The Catholic club on campus began about four years ago when a few students met one evening for fellowship.
Desire to evangelize
Now, the faith-filled group has about 25 members, weekly meetings with guest speakers and a desire to evangelize beyond campus boundaries. Yet the humble beginnings are not forgotten.
Angela Espejo went to a Sunday evening Mass at St. Joseph's College on campus where she met members of the club. She found them to be welcoming and genuine.
Having served in various ministries in her home parish in Fort McMurray, she was hoping to find a place where she could contribute her gifts.
"They were so friendly. I thought that getting involved with them would be a great way to continue our Catholic Christian fellowship. And it's a lot of fun."
Faith lived every day
Espejo said the club has become part of their weekly lives.
"Your faith shouldn't be in a vacuum," she said. "God should be all the time, not just on Sundays."
Espejo is the club's current social executive. The 19-year-old wants to gather all Catholic groups on campus for the greater good of the whole community.
"There are different Catholic clubs on campus such as the newly formed Catholic Women's League. There are the Knights of Columbus. Ignite is a social justice group that is Catholic-based. We want to collaborate with these groups and celebrate."
Newman Club meets Friday evenings at 7 p.m. in the Education North building. Speakers have discussed spiritual journeys, ecumenism, social justice, bio-ethics, and dance and music and their place in the liturgy. There is lively music, praise and worship, a moment for reflection and personal testimonies.
There are about 12 core members in the Newman Club who discuss and produce the meeting's agendas. Testimonials have become somewhat of a highlight.
"We share a special experience of our faith journey," Espejo said. "It's a way to share something sensitive in a supportive environment. It's a wonderful feeling knowing you are safe to share it with God and with other people."
Following the testimonial and guest speaker, the meeting breaks into small groups that discuss the evening's topic.
"We need to challenge ourselves in learning about our faith life with these different topics and questions," Espejo said. "We become better Christians."
Rehman said, "You take out what you give into it. But sometimes just being there is enough, especially if you're a little fish in the big pond. Some people have said 'Oh, I wasn't taught this in high school.' They learn new ways to think about issues that have been on their minds."
Anyone can join simply by showing up at a Friday night meeting. There is no pressure once a person becomes a member. The club is available if, or when, a person needs fellowship.
The club passes out information around campus through word of mouth, emails and in the bulletin for St. Joe's Chapel. But it is considering ways to expand its scope.
"A long-term goal is to go out to other campuses to tell them about St. Joe's and about the Newman Club," Espejo said. "We can make the extension to everyone."
For more information, call (780) 479-7478 or visit www.ualberta.ca/~newman.