This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Centering the UB Catholic community

UB Idol: Tommie Babbs wows the crowd and judges with “Always and Forever.”

The new home for the UB Newman Center will include a worship hall, administrative offices, a commercial kitchen, classroom and student lounge and rec room.

  • “I can’t believe I’ve been here 21 years and this is finally happening.”

    Msgr. J. Patrick Keleher
    Director, UB Newman Center
Published: July 30, 2009

The longtime dream of a permanent home for the UB Newman Center will soon become reality, with construction well under way on a multi-purpose Catholic Campus Ministry Center on Skinnersville Road across from the UB North Campus.

Buffalo Bishop Edward U. Kmiec will bless the construction site at 495 Skinnersville Road during a Mass to be held at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. All are welcome to attend.

The $2.7 million, 15,000-square-foot building, which is being paid for entirely through fundraising, is located on a 10-acre site—7.5 acres of which are federally protected wetlands. It will feature a worship hall with seating for 420 and standing room for a total capacity of about 700, administrative offices, a student lounge and rec room, commercial kitchen and a portable classroom, as well as plenty of parking.

Despite the rainy spring and summer, construction is proceeding and Newman Center staff hopes the new building will be open in time to celebrate Christmas masses, says David Greenman, director of development for the Newman Center.

Having a permanent facility for center activities will save the center the expense of renting the chapel it uses on Frontier Road at the Audubon Parkway, as well as office space in the UB Commons, Greenman says.

Moreover, the new facility will “center our community,” notes Msgr. J. Patrick Keleher, director of the Newman Center, alluding to the theme of the center’s fund-raising campaign. While the center’s South Campus office has merged with St. Joseph University Church on Main Street adjacent to the South Campus, the two locations work together, Keleher says. “We’re one ministry, two centers,” he says.

First established at UB in 1936, the Newman Center serves between 1,300-1,500 students and about 700 families from the community, Greenman says. He hopes that once the new facility is completed, it will serve as much as 10 percent of the UB student population, which, he points out, is about half Roman Catholic.

Keleher explains that the project to build the new facility has been on the drawing board for more than 40 years—the Diocese of Buffalo purchased the land in 1967 with the intent to eventually locate the Newman Center on the site, he says. A proposal to build on the site “had been through four different bishops,” he says, noting that once a fund-raising plan was in place, Kmiec and the diocese’s finance committee gave final approval to proceed.

Kmiec’s appearance on Sunday “solidifies the project,” Greenman says. “The community will see that the diocese supports the campus ministry at the Newman Center,” he adds.

For Keleher, it’s a dream come true.

“I can’t believe I’ve been here 21 years and this is finally happening,” he says of the project. “It’s the culmination of a dream for the Newman Center and for all of us.”

Reader Comments

Patrick Keleher says:

Thanks for all the support which has finally made this dream come true. Cardinal Newman, our Patron and the author of that extraordinary book, "The Idea of a University," is "up" for becoming a Saint in the Catholic Church and you need a miracle to be considered. In these days of the Church 495 Skinnersville Rd. should be considered. Come visit us!

Posted by Patrick Keleher, Director, Newman Centers@UB, 03/03/10

Marcelina Rodriguez-Rondon says:

Congratulations to UB Newman Center, Fr. Pat and all of the staff!

Posted by Marcelina Rodriguez-Rondon, Senior Counselor, 08/04/09

Erik H says:

It's great to finally see that our community will have a center for worship at UB after so many years of hoping for one, it truly has been a long standing dream from what I understand.

In regards to Professor Steven's comment I would have to think that the complex is plenty large enough. Although half of UB may be Roman Catholic, it is a trend that fewer students actually attend worship services regularly. Students lead very busy lives and, sadly, faith is generally not among their priorities.

Posted by Erik H, Undergraduate Student, 08/04/09

Phil Stevens says:

Over my 38 years at UB I have watched that "Future Site" sign on Skinnersville Road fade from bright to dull... I offer my hearty congratulations to Fr. Pat and the UB Newman Center at the realization of a very long dream. BUT the Newsman Center serves many hundreds of UB and community people, and will certainly serve more under UB 2020 -- is this complex large enough? Only 420 seats in the sanctuary, only a few adjacent rooms...

Posted by Phil Stevens, Associate Professor of Anthropology, 07/30/09