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JPII Newman: A Presence to Treasure, Hold and Support with Intention

JPII Newman Center July 10, 2017

(Photo Courtesy of the University of Nebraska at Omaha)

April 23, 2018

When Cathy Pacholski asked if I would write something for the JPII Blog I cheerfully accepted the opportunity, as I believe in the mission and vision of the Newman Center and Fr. Joe Taphorn’s efforts to support UNO students.  However, when it came time to put pen to paper, I wondered if I could really offer something that would be of value to your readership.  After prayerful consideration, the inspiration for what to say came during the distribution of palms this Lent.  The shortage of palms in some places served as a reminder of how we can take things for granted in our lives. We expect things to always be there, because they have always been.  Yet, the curious thing is that life doesn’t always work out this way and we struggle when the things we expect are no longer in front of us. Indeed, this absence teaches us to appreciate and value the more important things in life.  It also encourages us to find support outside of ourselves.

Thomas Attig, in his book, The Heart of Grief, offers an interesting perspective about how we take for granted the things given to us.  He says, “Their absence frustrates us constantly.  We have lived as if they would always be with us.  Our pain and anguish derive in part from reminders of how we took their presence for granted….”  We tend to be relaxed and careless with many things in our lives. Palms, relationships, education, and even our belief in something greater than ourselves; each of these can be treated with a certain entitlement that is counterproductive and disappointing in the end.  We believe that objects and people which have always been in our lives should always be there – despite our lack of effort to keep and sustain them. When we realize the preciousness of gifts like our faith, we become more interested in caring for the things that are on loan to us in this life. This is important in our own lives as well as the lives of others. And, this is why the John Paul II Newman Center is of such value as young adults come to find their place in the world.

As someone who believes and supports the mission of the JP II Newman Center, knowing it is available to prospective and current students is key.  This is especially true when prospective students and parents seeking a place of higher education are searching for a safe and supportive place for activities, housing and places for community building.  For my part and for others, the presence of JPII on campus is something to treasure, hold and support with intention.

(Photo Courtesy of the University of Nebraska at Omaha)

When I attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) in the early 1980’s, UNO was a very different place.  The concept of student housing, a second campus (Scott Campus), and the presence of such forward thinking undergraduate degrees as Gerontology (shameless plug), Biomechanics and Computer Science were almost the work of science fiction.

(Photo Courtesy of the University of Nebraska at Omaha)

Today, UNO represents a thriving institution of higher learning, boasting cutting-edge degrees, student housing and a vibrant second campus. It also includes the John Paul II Newman Center, a place for students to live and grow in their knowledge and faith.  For students from Nebraska and beyond they now have another choice as to where they can pursue an undergraduate education while also building on their faith.

The location of the Newman Center is such that students are given a first-hand gift to be engaged in a growing and vibrant city. Omaha and UNO offer diversity, opportunity and a challenging and thoughtful education.  For those seeking more – JP II is a place students can call home. And, for those looking for a way to ensure our future is secure with people of faith and a commitment to others, your support of the John Paul II Newman Center is vital. We cannot afford to take for granted the gifts given to us. The time is now for supporters to be bold, be faithful, and to be not afraid of giving of yourselves to this rich treasure for students today and tomorrow.

Julie Masters, Ph.D. | Chair, Department of Gerontology at UNO

 

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