Father Robert Matya, Chaplain

I am the Vocation Director for the Diocese of Lincoln and this is my twentieth year as Pastor and Chaplain of the Newman Center - St. Thomas Aquinas Church at UNL. I was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Lincoln in 1995. I attended UNL and St. Philip Seminary in Toronto, and completed a four-year Theology program at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, PA.


Father Steve Mills, Assistant Chaplain

I was ordained a priest in May of 2013 and this is my third year serving at the Newman Center. I am excited to continue at the same place I graduated from- the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. As an avid fan of the Cornhuskers, I enjoy any free time I get to follow the Huskers, play basketball (or any sport except polo) with students or to just share the life and power of Christ with those who walk into this beautiful St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Newman Center.


Marlene Beyke, University Director & Wedding Coordinator

Marlene works closely with the Newman Center Board Executives and Newman Center ministries, which include planning the March for Life, coordinating spring break trips, and organizing the Newman Institute. Marlene serves as the adviser and provides continuity and a historical perspective for all ministries. Her duties also include planning special events for the Newman Center and being the University advisor for FOCUS, Phi Kappa Theta and Pi Alpha Chi. Marlene is also the wedding coordinator for St. Thomas Aquinas. She writes, "Being a small part of the students lives during their time at the Newman Center- St. Thomas Aquinas has been very rewarding."


Patti Montgomery, HR Manager & Controller

I began working as the Controller and HR Manager here at St. Thomas Aquinas Church - Newman Center in August 2012. I grew up in Omaha and graduated from Daniel J. Gross Catholic High School. I earned my Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with a degree in accounting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. I eventually moved to Lincoln when I married my husband, Chris. We have two children, Samuel and Josephine. Samuel joined our family through adoption from Mongolia and Josephine from China a few years later. I am honored to work at the Newman Center and to be part of a mission that is devoted to bringing young people to Jesus. It is a unique culture that exists here. I am inspired every day by the love and the earnest desire shown by the Newman Center students as they strive to be holy. We see lives changed every day and it is exciting! We are members of St. Patrick's Church. Outside of working for the church I enjoy gardening, cooking, camping and bible studies. My favorite saints are St. Padre Pio, St. Elizabeth, St. Martha, St. Mother Teresa and soon-to-be-saints Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen.


Jude Werner, CRFE Director of Development

I have twenty-three years of ministry, development and management experience volunteering and working for the Catholic Church. My work with young people has involved numerous youth and collegiate ministries, retreats, and pilgrimages, including three World Youth Days, as well as serving on diocesan apostolates for youth ministry, evangelization and preparing engaged couples. I have served as Director of Development for the Newman Center - St. Thomas Aquinas Church since June 2006. My education includes a BA in Agricultural Science and Natural Resources (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), MA in Theological Studies (Madonna University) and MA in Philanthropy and Development (St. Mary's University of Minnesota). I describe myself as a mission-driven individual who is passionate about seeing the Newman Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have a thriving future. My passion for working with young people, combined with previous business experience in sales and management, has made my role as a development officer an enriching way to serve the Catholic Church.

robert creal

Robert Creal, Facilities Manager

I am the Building Supervisor. My duties include supervising and directing the maintenance staff and making sure that everything runs smoothly in the building, allowing students to grow in their faith. I started working at the Newman Center in February of 2015. I am blessed to be able to work here; I thought I was a well-informed Catholic prior to my employment here but have learned so many things about my faith since I started. I look forward to growing even closer to Christ as I continue to serve the students, staff and clergy at St. Thomas Aquinas - Newman Center. My favorite book right now is A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharistic by Abbot Vonier. My favorite Saint is St. Bernadette and has been since I was in grade school. I am a native of Lincoln and a current member of St. Teresa Parish. My wife is Mary O'Shea-Creal, we have five children and four grandchildren. I have tried to help my children make good decisions by letting them know the bad decisions I made as a teenager and young adult. I am willing to share these with anyone who asks and is trying to find their way.

john freeh

Dr. John Freeh Director of the Newman Institute for Catholic Thought & Culture

Inaugural Director of the Newman Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture. I am thrilled to be director of the fledgling Newman Institute and to be working in partnership with this vibrant Newman Center. I am a native of Jersey City, N.J., but have studied and taught in D.C., Chicago, Spokane, Pittsburgh and Oxford, England. Tempted by the adventurous spirit of the West (and a strong nudge from Providence), I left a tenured position at Hillsdale College in order to teach at Wyoming Catholic College and assist in the development of its Great Books curriculum. Following similar promptings, I was eager to help found a program in Lincoln inspired by Blessed John Henry Newman's ideal of a liberal arts education, which seeks to form the whole person: mind, body and spirit. Newman's motto - cor ad cor loquitur, or, heart speaks to heart - has been integral to my own educational philosophy. My wife Helen and I are life-long teachers: my fields are Renaissance Literature, Shakespeare and T.S. Eliot, hers are American Literature and J.R.R. Tolkien. We treasure the bonds of friendship made with students elsewhere and we look forward to making many new friends here. We enjoy travel, hiking, and camping with our growing family and have begun to introduce our children to all that Nebraska has to offer. Please visit me anytime at our office on the second floor. May you take encouragement, as I have, from Newman's wise words about the human condition: "God has created me to do him some definite service... I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught."

drew hines

Drew Hines Associate Director of Development

I am the Associate Director of Development and this is my second year working for the Newman Center. I love working here because it is truly a place that inspires hope. In college, I was personally impacted in a very real way by the priests, the missionaries, and the people around the Newman Center. I can honestly say my life would not be the same had the Newman Center not been down the block from my college fraternity. I enjoy getting to know the students that come around here because many of them are just beginning to experience a deeper aspect of their faith and the Church. I know what it was like when I was younger and someone reached out to me, so I try to take the opportunity to do the same. One of my favorite books is Searching for and Maintaining Peace and a top movie pick is Good Will Hunting.

mollie sundermeier

Mollie Sundermeier Associate Director of Annual Fund & Marketing

Hello! It was when I was a freshman at UNL that a Newman Center mission trip to work with the Little Sisters of the Poor inspired me to have a real relationship with God. Following that experience, it was through FOCUS missionaries, friends, and the ministries offered here, that my life has truly been transformed! After graduating with a journalism/graphic design degree in 2015, I spent a year working in Colorado before returning home to the Good Life. I enjoy exploring the power of advertising design, cheesecake is the best and my favorite saint is St. Joseph.

lori vasa

Lori Vasa, Parish Secretary & Bookkeeper

I began working at the Newman Center in February 1974. At the time, Fr. Leonard Kalin was the pastor. He had taught some of my religion classes in high school at Bishop Neumann in Wahoo. Before I started working at Newman I worked downtown at A. C. Nielsen's and would come to the 7am Mass. I grew up on a farm near Weston, NE with my parents, six brothers and lots of cousins nearby. I attended St. John Nepomucene School in Weston, which was a brand new school when I started first grade. Eight years later, I started at another brand new school, Bishop Neumann High School in Wahoo. And so, it was nothing unusual to be starting out in a brand new building when we moved into the Newman Center in January 2015. My job includes working as the parish secretary, recording all the baptisms, marriages, etc.; bookkeeping, making all the deposits and writing all the checks; and duties related to the Vocation Office, keeping all the seminarian files and lists in order, and handling most of the bills for their education. There have been a lot of changes since I started and it has been exciting watching how the programs have been added and how the number of students has grown. I especially enjoy meeting students whose parents came to the Newman Center during their college years. There are so many memories of Newman people and events.

keri timmerman

Keri Timmerman, Senior Administrative Assistant

After graduating from Ave Maria School of Law, I began working here at the Newman Center in 2010. As the administrative assistant in the Development Office, a large part of my job is helping to manage our large and ever-growing database of students, alumni, parents and donors. Because I record and process all of the donations to the Newman Center as they come in, I have seen first-hand all of the generosity and sacrifice that made this beautiful new church and Newman Center a reality. What a blessing! It has truly been an inspiring journey. I grew up here in Lincoln with my parents and two older brothers. I have been a member of St. John the Apostle parish for most of my life, and I am a graduate of Pius X High School. When I was an undergraduate here at UNL, the Newman Center was my home away from home. Now I am humbled and honored to play a small role in providing that community for others, a place where students can come to know God and His infinite love for them.

Tessa Contreras, Program Coordinator of the Newman Institute

peter martin

Dr. Peter Martin, MTS, Catholic Social Services Clinical Psychologist

Peter, a licensed psychologist, supervises pre-doctoral psychology interns and master's level clinicians and provides mental health services at the APA-accredited, pre-doctoral internship site Catholic Social Services (CSS) of Southern Nebraska. He has a PsyD and MS in Clinical Psychology from The Institute for the Psychological Sciences, a MA in Religious Studies from Providence College, and a MS in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kansas. He has served on the Board of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association since 2013 and on the Board of Witness to Love: Marriage Preparation Renewal Ministry since 2015. In 2008, through CSS, Peter began and currently heads a clinical outreach site at the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For 2 years, he provided counseling services to seminarians at the Institute for Priestly Formation summer program in Omaha, Nebraska. His areas of interest include supervising therapists in faith-integrated treatments of psychological disorders, in practicing Forgiveness Therapy, group therapy, and depth therapy, and in studying God image, the psychology of belief and unbelief, and the social scientific understanding of religious conversion. Peter and his wife, Larissa, have been married for 5 years and have 2 children.