Scenes from the Black Hills State University Newman Center Bishop’s Breakfast and Groundbreaking Ceremony March 4, 2017.

2016-04-12_Exterior Render PosterAn architectural rendering of the proposed Black Hills State University Newman Center. The three-level facility will feature a chapel, full kitchen, a large fellowship hall, and office space for the Newman Center staff.

Newman Center ministry ‘bursting at the seams’

When Dru Barzeski decided to attend Black Hills State University, she didn’t think that not having a car would be a problem until she decided to attend Mass. “I am walking at night time, alone and even during the winter months,” she explained. “If the Newman Center were near campus, it would be easy for me to share in the activities and incorporate adoration into my daily schedule.”

The current building is nearly a mile from campus, and that according to Taylor Linn, director of youth and Newman ministry, is the biggest struggle with the building right now. “The new Newman Center will be located just yards from the main entrance to the university. It will be so much more accessible to students.

“The students will continue to serve the local parish and our community in many ways as they have in the past, but they are more than ready and excited to have their own spiritual home where they can pray and celebrate Mass and their faith.”

“Black Hills State University is the only public university in South Dakota without a Newman Center adjacent to campus,” said Kay Schallenkamp, past president of BHSU. “We have the opportunity to change this.”

Kristin Thompson, development director for the BHSU Newman Center, and Msgr. Michael Woster, Newman chaplain and pastor at St. Joseph, Spearfish and its affiliated parishes, have been quietly speaking with donors to raise funds for a new building adjacent to campus, and are working to finish raising the last 20 percent necessary to break ground in March of 2017. The second and public phase of the campaign began with a parish mailing to the parishioners of St. Joseph Church, Spearfish; St. Paul, Belle Fourche; and St. Mary Star of the Sea, Newell; in late September. The third stage, beginning in early November, is a mailing campaign to BHSU Catholic alumni and outreach to other parishes in the diocese with former students who attended BHSU.

“We want to serve all of the students, not just practicing Catholics. Faculty and staff, who are not able to break away for a time of quiet reflection or prayer, will be able to use it as well,” explained Thompson.

According to Thompson, the distance from campus is not the only reason for a new building. “This ministry is active and growing. We need a bigger place because the current Newman center is bursting at the seams. We aren’t building a place for a ministry that we want to create, we are building a new home for a community that’s growing.

“We see 20-30 active members at the current building throughout the year, but our mailing list includes more have more than 100 students who engage in Newman activities throughout the year,” she continued. “This year we are seeing an increase in our activities over previous years. Our chapel currently seats 12 students comfortably. We consistently have 25 students that show up for daily Mass on Tuesdays, and because of the chapel is too small, students must attend Sunday Mass at St. Joseph Parish or not at all.”

Newman Center students are active in parish life at St. Joseph Church serving as Eucharistic ministers, and lectors. Some help with Generations of Faith, faith formation, and confirmation retreats.

“Catholic Newman Centers across the country are vital in creating a place for college students to find the support of other Catholic students living and growing in their Catholic faith,” said Bishop Robert Gruss. “This is why building a new Catholic Newman Center at Black Hills State University is so important. The ministries provided to Catholic and non-Catholic students play an important role in helping develop future Christian leaders for the church and the world.”

“Remember these young people will be our Catholic and Christian leaders in our parishes, schools, communities and businesses for generations to come,” agreed Msgr. Woster. “I cannot imagine any other ministry as important as this one. It forms students in the gift of our Catholic faith. The new center will provide a ‘spiritual home away from home’ during the most critical years of their formation in life.

“We are so very close to completing our campaign. We have raised 80 percent of the funds needed to bring this vision of Bishop Gruss and our campaign team to reality. Anyone who loves our college students and recognizes the need to support their growth in the Christian faith please join in the campaign and help bring this project to completion.”

To give contact: Kristin Thompson, Development Director, 605-642-2306,