Our (Brief) History as a Catholic Newman Center
2017: The Newman Center in Kirksville Celebrates 50 years of campus ministry.
2015: Chaplain of two decades passes away
2010: Blessed John Henry Newman beatified
2010: Director of 21 years retires, new director named
2008: Rebuilding from the ashes
2007: Catholic Newman Center building destroyed by fire.
2000: The Newman Center expands to include room for more students.
The decision was made to add on. We applied for grants and began raising money from parents, alumni, and friends. We contacted an architect and builder. The addition was estimated to cost $300,000.
By spring of 2000, we had half the money and began construction in May as soon as school was out. The multipurpose room was doubled and three rooms added on the side: lounge, library, and music library. The old library was turned into an office for the Chaplain. The blessing of the addition took place on November 3, 2000.
1996: Chaplain and inaugural director named
1987-90: Newman Center relocates to Normal & Davis
The Bishop then pledged a matching $100,000 from the parishes of the Diocese of Jefferson City. Total budget for the project was $350,000.
The yellow house on the corner was torn down under the direction of Mary Immaculate parishioner Phil Hebert. Construction was to begin in the summer of 1988, but then the project began to hit some major snags.
Because of cost overruns, the architect was asked to redesign the building. Then NMSU came to Fr. Les and offered to buy the corner lot in order to extend the greenway reaching from the dorms along Normal Street to the president’s home, which fronts Halliburton. So, in August of 1988, Newman sold the corner lot and bought two more lots south of the corner. The new building would now have to be designed to front Davis Street. In addition, the white house slated to be used for Cornerstone, the Catholic student house, now stood on the proposed building site and had to be moved to a new foundation two lots to the south, after the two houses standing there had also been demolished.
Groundbreaking for the new Center finally took place on NMSU’s Graduation Day in May 1989. After all his work of negotiation and fundraising, Fr. Les left the Newman Center before the actual construction began. In his wake came Fr. Kevin Clohessy, who presided over the excavation and the raising of the walls in late summer of 1989. Fr. Kevin held several well-attended Masses on the site and in the unfinished building. He and several helpers moved in to the facility in January 1990. The first regular Sunday liturgies were celebrated there on January 13 and 14. The Newman Center was officially dedicated in services on April 7, with a Mass by Bishop Michael McCauliffe of Jefferson City, and a Thanksgiving Mass celebrated by Fr. Kevin Clohessy on April 8, 1990.
1967: W. Dodson Facility houses the Catholic Newman Center.
1955-1957: Director – Rev. Richard Carney
1957-1960: Sponsor – Rev. Norbert G. Adelman, C.PP.S.
1960-1962: Chaplain – Fr. Pau F. Bobay, C.PP.S.
1962-1966: Chaplain – Rev. J. Leon Allred
1966-1969: Chaplain – Fr. Luke Reichert
1969-1975: Director – Fr. John Whiteley
1975-1978: Director: Fr. Jim Schafer
1978-1983: Director – Fr. John Prenger
1983-1987: Director – Fr. Les Niemeyer
1987-1989: Director – Fr. Les Niemeyer, Secretary – Bettie Lesczynski
1989-1993: Director – Fr. Kevin Clohessy, Associate Campus Minister – Bettie Lescyznski
1993-1994: Chaplain – Fr. Dave Maher, Associate Campus Minister – Bettie Lescyznski
1994-1995: Chaplain – Fr. Don Crosby, Associate Campus Minister – Bettie Lescyznski
1996-2009: Chaplain – Fr. Bill Kottenstette, Director – Bettie Lesczynski
2009-2015: Chaplain – Fr. Bill Kottenstette, Director – Chris Korte
2015- 2020: Chaplain – Fr. Colin Franklin, Director – Chris Korte
2020-Present: Chaplain – Fr. Simeon Etonu, Director – Chris Korte