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The History of the Newman Center

The Newman Apostolate

John Henry Newman"Students who attend colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning are the leaders of future generations. Within the Diocese of Allentown there are substantial and ever incresing numbers of Catholic students in non-Catholic institutions of higher learning. It is the function of the Newman Apostolate to help them develop a mature faith that they might be complete persons in the image of Christ. The Newman Apostolate makes the pilgrim church, which is missionary by its very nature, conveniently accessible to many who wish to learn from it." -from The First Synod of Allentown, May 1, 1968

St. John Henry Newman

The Newman Center is named after John Cardinal Newman. He was born in 1801 in London. Educated at Oxford, he later became an Anglican minister. Newman became a Catholic in 1845 and he was ordained a Catholic priest in 1847. In 1851 he was named rector of the Catholic University of Dublin. In his book Idea of a University, he attempted to analyze the true concept of liberal education in a university setting. He was created a cardinal in 1879 by Pope Leo XIII and he died in 1890.

In 1991 Pope John Paul II declared him Venerable, the first step in the cause for Sainthood.

History of the Apostolate at Lehigh

Newman CenterIt was in 1964 that the first Catholic Chaplain was appointed for Lehigh University and in 1965 that the first Catholic Mass was celebrated in Packer Memorial Church. The Newman Center was originally located at 449 Carlton Avenue, Bethlehem. On January 5, 1976, Fr. Robert Cofenas informed Bishop McShea (first Bishop of Allentown) that there were certain difficulties associated with the Carlton location, and in a letter dated January 13, 1976, the bishop requested that Fr. Cofenas be alert for a possible site for re-location. Soon afterwards, the property at 661 Taylor Street, previosly owned by the Kiernan family, was purchased by Lehigh University. According to Ben Nevis, his grandfather, Edward McGeady, built the house on Taylor Street and sold it to the Kiernans in the mid-1890s.

On December 17, 1976, the Newman Foundation entered into a lease agreement with Lehigh University for the use of the house at 661 Taylor Street as the new site for the Newman Center. During 1977 an addition was constructed to include a front office, chapel, side entrance, and extension onto the kitchen. The center was dedicated on November 20, 1977.

On June 1, 2008, the Diocese of Allentown announced the first part of its parish restructuring program. As a result, 47 parishes closed in July of that year. In anticipation of these changes, Fr. Wayne E. Killian arranged and then oversaw the move from 661 Taylor Street to Holy Ghost Church, 417 Carlton Avenue, where he assumed the role of Pastor, saving the church from closing and enabling Lehigh to have its very own university parish. The original brick church building, formerly nicknamed "The Casino," was converted into the new Bishop Edward P. Cullen Hall, named in honor of the third bishop of the Diocese of Allentown. The first floor (the new permanent location of the Newman Center) was completely remodeled with refurbished hardwood floors, new heating and air conditioning, a recpetion area, office, bathroom, kitchenette, computer room and student lounge. It was dedicated by Bishop Cullen on April 27, 2009.

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