hate to admit it, but I didn't think this would ever happen. That the Newman Center would purchase the house and property adjacent to our existing center - it sounded like a great, logical thing for us. The growth that the Newman Center has experienced has made our present facility -- as homey and comfy as it is -- way too inadequate. I don't know how many dinners were shared in the middle of the hallway or on the stair case in the center. The kitchen that we added a few years ago was a huge help, but for our serious chefs and bakers, there barely was room for one person in there. And with our campus continuing to grow (presently appx 20,000 with a Catholic population of greater than 60%) The need for more room was obvious.
But there seemed countless reasons why things wouldn't come together or work out. We've been investigating ways to expand Newman for a few years. About 2 years ago after a considerable amount of time, energy, resources and studies - I sat at a meeting that lasted only 40 minutes and saw all that work go up in smoke. That experience was difficult to take. Although truth be told, I handled it better than I imagined at the time. I truly felt in my heart The Lord saying "not now."
And, again - truth be told - when I reflect on this whole thing, it has been The Lord who has directed things. Different individuals, from around the country, with various expertise, gifts, talents have generously assisted in ways that I could never have foreseen, predicted or put together: From a family who paid for that initial feasibility study to professionals who because of that study became intrigued by our hopes and dreams that they started volunteering their time -- to countless donations from all across the country.
Despite how beautifully God has been slowly moving things forward - when I first received a phone call from our neighbor saying "Father, you had mentioned that if I was ever interested in selling my house, to let you know - well, I'm ready" - almost immediately I was plagued with doubts.
"Oh, that project-- I doubt will be able to come together again."
"Where will we get the funding to purchase the house now?"
or even more cynically "What's going to come along to mess this up?"
Yup, I guess you can call me "Thomas..." (The apostle unfairly dubbed "doubting, but I digress)
And yet, as this past year went along, this whole acquiring of the house was one of the most uneventful processes ever. Housing appraisals were done, discussed. Negotiations were professional and respectful. The Archdiocese was enthusiastic in it's support and fulfilled every promise they made.
And praise God - yesterday, August 5th, we closed on the house.
I'm beyond excited for the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at Montclair State.
I'm profoundly grateful by the support and generosity of so many who have made this possible - most especially Archbishop Myers, and the people of the Archdiocese of Newark who funded the purchase of the house.
And I'm sincerely humbled at how The Lord continues to surprise me and challenge me to deeper trust and belief in how he ultimately is leading and guiding us... When we are attentive and obedient to Him.
I ask your continued prayers as we embark on this new chapter in Newmans history. And for those who would like to contribute to assist us in our immediate needs as we "move in" check out our website www.MSUNEWMAN.com for a link to paypal to donate online.
Unless the LORD build the house,
they labor in vain who build.