By C. Aileen Blaine
Offering fellowship, guidance and outreach opportunities, Youngstown State University’s Newman Center provides support to all students, faculty and staff, regardless of religious beliefs. Despite the pandemic, the center still plans to host its annual Thanksgiving dinner.
Joe Frangos, campus minister, has led the center since August. He said the center assists the spiritual, intellectual and social formations of students with a Catholic worldview, but its doors are open for all.
“We are here to support the students spiritually in whatever way,” Frangos said. “We just want to be a part of helping them.”
The Newman Center is located on Madison Avenue across from Cafaro House. Before the pandemic, the center offered many in-person volunteer service programs, Bible studies and meals for students.
This year, the annual Thanksgiving meal will be served Tuesday, Nov. 24 in already-prepared containers for pickup to reduce possible contamination. A virtual meeting will be available for students to join to share fellowship and Thanksgiving together.
Past events hosted included Midnight Pancakes during finals week and weekly Wednesday dinners for students. These events are on pause due to the pandemic, but those involved hope to hold them again once normalcy returns.
“Because of our space, we are able to social distance in multiple rooms, which means students can still come to the Newman Center and study, just to hang out, as long as it is within the small numbers,” Frangos said.
The Newman Center offers Mass services when holy days fall within the calendar of the academic year, but these are now streamed virtually. The center recently began hosting movie nights on Fridays and will show “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy until December. An advent speaker series will take place throughout December.
Scott Schulick, board adviser of the Newman Center, is responsible for working with the center to create ideas for programs.
“The Newman Center is a great way to engage with the community,” Schulick said. “It goes beyond any one religious denomination.”
He said he and the other board members are working toward more virtual methods of outreach until the pandemic is over. This includes more engagement through social media.
Joe Stanford, a junior music education major, first became involved in the center and its programs in the beginning of the spring semester, but has become heavily engaged since the beginning of the fall semester.
He said it’s been difficult getting students to become involved due to the pandemic and new leadership, but the center is working toward encouraging student participation.
“It’s kind of like having a second family there,” Stanford said. “It’s people who are just nice to be around, and it’s all for a good purpose.”
For more information, students can visit the Newman Center’s Facebook page. For inquiries about the Thanksgiving meal, call the center at 330-747-9202.