It was a critical Mass

By From page A10 | September 11, 2013

It brings me great sadness to hear that Bishop Jaime Soto has decided to end Mass at the Newman Center. I never would have met my wife and might not even be Catholic right now if it weren’t for Mass at the UC Davis Newman Center.

His plan to move Mass to St. James and use the Newman chapel as a hall for meetings seems to misunderstand how community (at least at UCD) is developed. Mass is the gateway to so much more. Unless things have changed since I was a student, having a single, “students-only” evening Mass at St. James won’t suffice.
Sister Mary Pat White, who assisted the priest while I was there, told me my senior year that she looked for freshmen who came alone to Mass and tried to get them more involved in the community. That was me.

As a freshman, I didn’t do anything. As I progressed through college, I moved from leading “Muffin Ministry,” an after-Mass social time (sophomore year), to eucharistic minister organizer (junior year) to being on staff, leading the Tijuana house building trip (senior year).

I met my wife on the Tijuana trip. I cringe to think of what my life would be without her. It all started with going to 9 a.m. Mass on my first Sunday of college.
Who’s going to be the Mary Pat White for this year’s freshman class if there’s only one Mass at an institutional parish? I find it hard to imagine students calling the Newman Center their “home away from home” if they’re worshiping elsewhere (even if they’re going to the evening Mass; I rarely did).

At our graduation Mass, we were asked to bring in a symbol of our time at Newman. I brought a science book with a religious bookmark (what I was as I entered Davis) and a Bible, with my biology homework in it (what I was as exited Davis). I doubt I would have made that transformation if it weren’t for the mass at Newman.

Brian Orelli
UC Davis Class of 1997, La Mesa

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