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JPII Newman Center Resident Manager Recalls How Community Helps College Students

November 12, 2019

Resident manager of the St. John Paul II Newman Center, Lauren Hankes, explains how her love for college ministry and residence life has grown by being a part of the JPII Newman Center.

Lauren Hankes went to Benedictine college to study theology and evangelization. When she realized that college ministry was something that she wanted to do she applied for college ministry in the Midwest. One day she received an email from her campus minister about a resident manager opening at the St. John Paul II Newman Center. She accepted the opening because she knew that this was something she wanted to do and her passion for college students and residence life would only grow. She explained how Benedictine did a good job at integrating faith with living. Hankes said,

“I am happy to bring my experience from that into this position to combine with my love for college ministry and residence life.”

She has been the resident manager for the JPII Newman Center for two and a half years. She had always taken an interest in Saint Pope John Paul II. She loved that he had a well-rounded view of the human person— every part of a person’s life was part of God’s. She said that the JPII Newman Center did a good job integrating just that.

As resident manager, Hankes, recruited people from high schools, the community, state and parts of Iowa. She gave tours to interested students, she was part of the application process, admission, leases and meets with the resident assistants (RAs). One of her favorite things to do as resident manager was meet with the RAs. For her there was something special about investing in a small group of people and to get to know them personally. She loved to see them become leaders and how they impacted the residents. She loved to witness that organic time residents get to experience while in community.

When asked what community was to her she replied with,

“When you put a bunch of people who have similar things in common in one place and tell them to run with it.”

Hankes liked to think of the JPII Newman Center as a school of community where you can learn how to be in community. She loved how human it was and explained how community was a way to become who you were supposed to be through God’s image. The JPII Newman Center was the epitome of this as a place to go and a place to do things. She described that once this takes place community just happens. There was always someone there to talk too.

When she saw this happen it was cool to experience. A lot of loneliness can be seen on college campuses and it was easy to fall into that. She explained that there must be a balance where people know they are made for community. It was something powerful to see when students chose to be there in community. It was neat to be a part of this community. The life at the JPII Newman Center was enlightening. There was a lot of life received here even if it was just minor.

The JPII Newman Center is a Catholic college community and apartment style housing for college students in Omaha. The mission is to bring transformative love of Jesus to all college students in Omaha. Hankes wanted to put an emphasis on all. It was not just a home for Catholic college students. This was a home for any college student. If you wanted a place to study, live or hang out this was the place. You do not have to be isolated.

“If there are students out there who feel isolated or who feel like they don’t know many people or that there’s not much for them in this life then this is the place to find purpose and friends and become who you are supposed to be.”

Maria Consbruck| UNO Journalism Major and Newman Hall Resident

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