“In addition to my family, there are two areas of my life about which I am most passionate: my Catholic faith and Penn State University. I believe it is our sacred obligation and our social duty to properly educate our children. Education can never be simply the acquisition of intellectual knowledge. The needs of the soul must be addressed. True education is about faith and reason!” -Suzanne P. Paterno

Until recently, our journey of faith involved packing a suitcase and heading across campus to the Forum Building or Schwab Auditorium. Treasures of the Catholic tradition tucked inside carefully folded vestments, Father David Griffin celebrated his first liturgy in a science lab.

It is not an unfamiliar story. The children of Abraham wandered in the desert for many years before finding a permanent home.

The Catholic Student Faith Center is a dream come true for generations of Penn State Catholics who understand our need for a place of our own – an oasis to nourish our faith in an increasingly complex world. Soon Catholic students at Penn State will have a place to call home, in a small, intimate setting close to campus. It will be a place of comfort, prayer, conversation and hospitality; a place for Lenten fish fries and spaghetti dinners; a place to hang out after Mass. Having our own center will enable our students to grow closer to God in communion with others as they explore what it means to live their lives as Catholics.

The Pasquerilla Spiritual Center was a godsend when it opened in 2003, but it has a different purpose. A meeting ground for all the world’s religions, the multi-faith center – the largest

of its kind in the nation – serves the needs of 62 diverse groups, fostering understanding, tolerance and cooperation. The Catholic Campus Ministry will continue to be a vibrant presence

at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center long after the new center is built. It’s important that young Catholics engage people of all faiths in lively discussion about ethics, spiritual development and character. And the Spiritual Center is the perfect place for our weekend liturgies and special events, which draw more than 1,800 students. But with 4,000 events, worship services and activities throughout the school year, the busy facility is stretched to capacity. Everyone does their best, but it’s easy to see why there are problems with scheduling, and why, out of deference to others, the sights, sounds and symbols of the Catholic faith are not as visible as we’d like.

Through the loving care of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and the Benedictine Saint Vincent Archabbey, the community of Catholic students at Penn State has swelled to more than 10,000 – one-quarter of all students on campus. You will meet a few of them in this brochure, and I know you will be as impressed as I am. Their love of God, nurtured by a growing sense of community, spills out of standing-room-only liturgies and onto the campus where these energetic, young adults live out their faith. It travels with them to Haiti, to Mexico, to inner-city Philadelphia, to Harrisburg and back home again as they serve their brothers and sisters in need. With encouragement and support from the new Catholic Student Faith Center, it will stay with them the rest of their lives. Theirs is a living faith.

Father Matthew T. Laffey, O.S.B.
Director, Catholic Campus Ministry at Penn State University

Comments are closed.