Feel free to share these video highlights from Husker Catholic Live 2017! Thank you to all who joined us in supporting the students at the Newman Center on November 3rd.
Story by John Grinvalds of the Daily Nebraskan
Led by a monstrance containing what Roman Catholics believe to be the body and blood of Jesus Christ, hundreds of students walked in a candlelit procession praying for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus.
For the last 11 years, Father Robert Matya, chaplain of the Newman Center, has led Catholic students in this public display of faith around the time of All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1, but for the last two years, the attendance has been more diverse. Similar to last year, the Newman Center’s annual Eucharistic Procession, falling on the night of Thursday, Nov. 2, included students from the Lutheran Center.
Last year, some Lutherans joined the procession when Logan Burda, a FOCUS missionary, walked into the Lutheran Center and invited the students inside on a whim.
“I got this interior push to invite them,” Burda said. “It was the Holy Spirit.”
For Morgan Tranmer, a peer minister at the Lutheran Center and one of the students invited by Burda, the experience was extraordinary.
“We were welcomed in so authentically,” Tranmer said. “It was an act of trust between us.”
Tranmer said acts of trust like that are what cultivates unbreakable relationships and that she gained many new insights during the event.
“I’ve found that whatever divides we have between the two churches, they’re self-constructed,” she said. “Those walls are so flimsy.”
This year, the Lutheran Center was asked to join long before the event started. According to Matya, the invitation is a continuation of weeks of dialogue between Lutheran and Catholic students, leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation on Oct. 31, the event that originally caused the two church bodies to split.
Thanks to this dialogue, Matya said the relationship between the Newman and Lutheran centers has improved.
“We have a better understanding of each other, and that’s a good thing,” he said. “I hope that will continue.”
Tranmer was one of the Lutheran students to participate in this year’s procession, and she said she looks forward to a continuing dialogue with the Newman Center.
“After all these years, we’re finally trying to be better at having these conversations,” she said. “It’s important to look at things with a view of genuine curiosity rather than judgment.”
Burda said he sees the growing relationship between the two church bodies as the right step for the Christian church.
“In John 17, Jesus is at the last supper with his apostles, and he prays that everyone who comes to believe in him will be one as he is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit,” he said. “I want the prayer of Jesus to happen.”
The event started with Mass in the Newman Center at 7 p.m. Following the service, students took to the streets of UNL’s campus for the procession.
As they sung hymns and prayed, the procession looped around campus, stopping at altars by the Nebraska Union, Memorial Stadium and 16th and Vine streets.
Like the glow of their candles bringing light to the darkness, Burda said the aim of the Eucharistic Procession is to bring healing to a broken world.
“It’s about taking Jesus to the streets to pray for the campus,” he said. “It’s a way to publicly profess our faith in Christ.”
But with Catholics standing side-by-side behind the cross, Burda said the event is even more significant.
“We want unity, and this is a sign of unity” Burda said. “I hope that we will one day truly have one holy and apostolic church.”
Read the original article from the Daily Nebraskan here.
If you come to Mass at the Newman Center soon, you might hear hymns with a uniquely cultural vibe. On September 24th, angelic tunes were created by a group of about twenty students from Rwanda, who are currently full-time students at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Last July was the first time the group came together to sing. Upon hearing of their friend Elvis's death, they thought of it as an opportunity to honor him at his funeral.
Jean Claude Mbarushimana, a founding member of the choir, reflected on the experience of singing at his friend's funeral. "We found it as a way to express our love to our deceased brother, to his family, and to the entire community that came to the Mass." The devotion that afternoon was a great gift to all who heard it.
Shortly after the funeral, Father invited the group of Rwandan students to the rectory for brunch. Wandering around the rectory, the students found a piano and began singing as Father Matya and Father Mills listened. Despite the songs being in a different language, the priests thought the songs were beautiful. Soon, the group was scheduled to sing at a Sunday Mass!
Jean Claude is beyond excited about this opportunity. “What a beautiful way of getting involved at the Newman Center! Saint Augustine once said that someone who sings prays twice. Singing helps me reflect on how God's love is in my life. This brings me joy and peace. Being a part of this choir makes me feel like we are creating this environment of meditation for all of the Newman Center students.”
On a beautiful November night, over five hundred college students sang hymns as they journeyed through campus at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. From afar, only the glow of bobbing candles held carefully in the hands of students was visible. All thoughts drifted toward our Lord, Who demanded the most humble attention in the Blessed Sacrament at the front of the procession.
At the four designated campus altars, the crowd knelt on the grass as six Knights divided and stood on either side of the Eucharist, swords drawn. Joe Burr, a fourth degree Knight and college senior at the time, commented on this moment. “For me, it drove home the point that Jesus Christ is King. It felt like a glimpse of Heaven, with God’s knights and angels surrounding Him.”
The last three generations of Joe’s family were Nebraska Knights of Columbus. When he was a young boy and saw his great grandfather’s regalia for the first time, a real passion for the Knighthood was ignited. Upon arriving at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, he was already serving as a fourth degree.
Joe found a very community-based group of Knights at the UNL Newman Center. Retreats, pancake feeds, and monthly fellowship evenings in Father’s rectory were just a few activities that united the men in service and communion. Beyond that, Joe loved serving during Adoration. “As a Knight, sitting in the back of church with my sword and chapeau, being able to adore Jesus and know He is trusting me to keep Him safe, is a really moving experience.”
A recent graduate from the University, Joe feels a unique relationship with the broader Church because of his involvement in the Knights of Columbus at the Newman Center. “Being a Knight there opened the door to worldwide fellowship and a special mission in the Church. Knights can always find a place among their brothers in whatever parish they go to after leaving the University. It’s an honor to serve and protect Our Lord wherever you are.”
Contributing to the 36 years of growing membership for the Nebraska Knights of Columbus, fifty-five young men initiated an interest in involvement in Council #13015 when school started last month.
This year on the evening of November 2nd, our eleventh Eucharistic Procession through campus will light the sidewalks of the University. Please join us!
This article was originally published by Nebraska Knights of Columbus Courier, Sept. 2017
It was May 2017, the night before the last day of finals, and I was exhausted. My week had consisted of stress, uncertainty, and daily ventures to the empty classrooms at the Newman Center to study harder than I ever had in my life. On this Thursday night, I slammed my computer shut and decided deadlines were stupid. My brain was fried, and my climbing into my bed seemed to be the only possible solution to saving my exams. Like I said, rough week.
But before I could gather my things and head home to the welcome comfort of my twin XL bed, my friend Abbey arrived at the Newman Center with a heavy heart, seeking conversation. All thoughts of my cozy comforter dissipated as I listened intently to her fears of moving back home for the summer and living her faith by herself. I, too, was terrified of the challenges of the upcoming summer– nervous about moving back home, being separated from my best friends, and continuing my faith journey away from the Newman Center. Abbey and I agreed that over the past year, this place had become our rock.
We lived together at our sorority house, and Newman was nothing more than a hop, skip, and a jump down the street. During Lent last spring, both Abbey and I had committed to making morning visits to start our days. At first those mornings were really hard for me, but the more time I spent with Jesus in the beautiful silence, the more excited I was to go to bed at night just so I could wake up early and do it all again. Those forty days were the best Lent of my life.
I was finally given a taste of what a real relationship with Jesus looks like. It was raw, it was vulnerable, and it was perfectly imperfect.
Abbey and I finally decided that the best thing we could do for ourselves on that overwhelming night was give the rest of our worries to God and just go to sleep. The door to the chapel was on our way out, so we stepped in to say goodnight and beg for any last-minute graces that might save us. As we walked in, the church was absolutely silent, but not five minutes later our dear Father Mills appeared, making his evening rounds of turning out the lights and locking the doors. Usually he would have asked us to head home, but we probably looked pretty pathetic, so he just smiled and told us to lock the door on our way out. An incredible feeling washed over me as the last of the lamps clicked off. We sat in this incredible darkness, a fresh energy washing over me as I gazed at the massive stained glass window of Jesus on His heavenly throne surrounded by some of His very best friends: the saints.
Abbey and I didn’t sit in a pew, we collapsed on the floor right in front of the altar, closer than most people dare to venture. And then we sang. We sang the songs our hearts had been longing to let out, the joys of that semester, the stress of that week, and the fear of losing it all over the summer. We stayed until 3am listening to the sounds of our own voices ring through the high, arched ceilings of the empty chapel. When we finally decided it was time to leave, we were full. No more fear, no more stress, just full.
I had never felt so at peace.
When I think of what the Newman Center means to me, I think of that night. It makes me smile when I contemplate the way Jesus worked in my heart. The peace didn’t end after that night, either. This summer has been full of trial and growth, questions and even a few answers. Living at home, my relationship with my parents has become stronger than I could have hoped, and my siblings and I have discovered a new friendship with each other. Although I so anticipate returning to the Newman Center, these last few months of summer have been amazing.
I had gone to Catholic school my entire life, and a part of me thought that was enough. My parents paid for me to learn about the Catholic faith, and I thought it ended there. I went on every school retreat and paid attention in religion class. But a few months after returning from the SEEK 2017 Conference last January, I realized I can’t rely on those things to sustain my faith. I went to that conference hoping I would hear the thundering voice of God that would change my heart, but instead I got silence. I had never felt more blocked from God than I did the night of Adoration when everyone around me seemed to feel His Presence. I was jealous, I was angry, and I was confused. However, Jesus had a plan for me the whole time. He knew that my heart wouldn’t be changed in an instantaneous encounter, and so he showed me that I must learn to seek Him daily. That’s how He worked in me, starting with that Lent, long after my friends and I returned home from SEEK.
I would not be where I am without the Newman Center. It’s the place I can come in the morning before the rest of campus has woken up, where I can go to Mass at 10pm because Father Matya and Father Mills understand just what it’s like to be a busy college kid, and where I can plop down in front of the altar with my best friend, singing my heart out until three in the morning.
The Newman Center is my home, my rock. With its shining bell tower constantly watching over the whole of campus, it is our lighthouse.
God bless, Alli
Alli Davis is a sophomore from Lincoln studying Journalism and Advertising/Public Relations.
Each day, hundreds of students like Alli are welcomed into our supportive, Christ-filled Newman Center. However, our ministries are only possible through the generosity of people like you. Please prayerfully consider being part of the mission to bring Christ to each of us by giving online here. Select "Mail Appeal" under, "What prompted you to give today?"
Last Wednesday night, our FOCUS missionaries hit the stage in front of hundreds of students to share their testimonies and kick off the year right! There was ice cream, too. Check out this awesome highlights reel!!