I was raised a practicing Catholic but lost my faith in high school. When I came to NYU, I wasn’t interested in attending Mass or celebrating feast days. But then something unexpected happened! I came back to Catholicism after my sophomore year. But I wasn’t sure I could find a religious community at NYU.
NYU is a nonsectarian, inclusive institution. This means NYU promotes inclusivity and tolerance for people who practice a specific religion or no religion at all. In fact, NYU permits members of any religious group to absent themselves from classes without penalty when required for compliance with their religious obligations.
Despite NYU’s nonsectarianism, NYU has the Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life. Global Spiritual Life is home to more than 70 spiritual life advisers and various student-run clubs. What’s more, four major religious centers comprise NYU’s religious and spiritual life. The Catholic Center at NYU is one of these centers.
As the central hub for Catholic life on campus, the Catholic Center at NYU is dedicated to being a home for Catholic students in New York City. Therefore, it offers many opportunities and resources for Catholics wishing to maintain their faith while in college.
The Catholic Center also serves as a place of peace and tranquility. Whether a student is searching for a place to study or a person to consult Catholic things with over a cup of coffee, they’ll find a warm and friendly community at the Catholic Center.
Mass and Fellowship
Every weekday, the Catholic Center offers the Sacrament of Penance (also known as confession) along with the Mass celebration. On Thursdays, the Catholic Center offers the community a chance to pray the rosary with fellow Catholics. There are also feast day celebrations, including All Saints’ Day and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
Clara Tschoepe, a Tandon School of Engineering Computer Science major, initially joined the Catholic Center to find community at NYU. “I first came to the Catholic Center because I was longing for something more in my life that I didn’t know how to find. Once there, I found a community living in joy unlike any I’d seen anywhere else,” she says.
On Sundays, the most important day of the week for Catholics, members of the community are invited to attend the 11:30 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village. Following the service, students gather to catch up and maybe grab lunch, which fosters community.
Every Tuesday evening, the Catholic chaplain (or a special guest) gives a formation talk. These presentations cover topics related to living as a Catholic, as a student, and as a human being. The talks introduce students to the richness of the Catholic tradition and its intellectual history. Past topics have included human nature, morality, and religious life.
“Sometimes we discuss the Catholic faith, like the Mass. And sometimes we discuss general human experience, like how to handle emotions. Either way, the point is to come to a deeper understanding of who we are, who God is, and what Christ teaches us,” says Father Isaiah Beiter.
These lectures provide students with a stimulating environment to engage in the intellectual aspect of the Catholic faith. Moreover, they spark discussion among and interaction between Catholic students outside the classroom.
Catholic social teaching encourages Catholics to imitate Christ’s love for impoverished communities by always considering their needs first. Therefore, the Catholic Center provides weekly outreach to homeless communities on Wednesdays. Catholics at NYU are invited to prepare sandwiches and then distribute them to people experiencing homelessness. Through this outreach, students engage in conversation and seek to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the community.
“Homeless outreach is a chance to encounter Christ in the peopel who live on the streets of New York City. We do this by offering physical sustenance in food, drink, and clothing but also in conversation and prayer,” says Mathematics major Sebastian Jamshahi. “The goal is to grow in charity for our brothers and sisters in Christ, who first left us an example by dining even with those most rejected by society.”
The preferential option for impoverished people is a principle within Catholic social teaching that calls Christians to examine the world from the perspective of the marginalized and work in solidarity for justice. Therefore, homeless outreach is a way for Catholics to apply the gospel and adhere to Catholic social teaching.
Every Thursday, Catholics at NYU gather together for a dinner sponsored by the Newman Club, the official Catholic student club at NYU! Sometimes special guests come to these dinners. But there is always good food—and friends to eat with. Students are even invited to come early and help cook while listening to fun music.
For Karli Khanna-Reichert, an undergraduate studying Media, Culture, and Communication at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, these weekly dinners are a highlight of her week. “I love that the Newman dinners give all of us at the Catholic Center the chance to share a home-cooked meal together as a family,” she says. “Whether you’ve been coming to the Catholic Center for years or it’s your first time, everyone is a part of the family and is always welcomed.”
These dinners are a stable opportunity for students to connect with others. They offer the possibility of making some strong friendships over a good dinner. Dinner ranges from pasta to soft tacos. But the friendly company and enlightening conversations are always consistent!
For people of faith, there are ample resources at NYU. Global Spiritual Life empowers religious, spiritual, and secular communities with tools for self- and community-care, bridge-building, and resilience.
The Catholic Center at NYU is just one of many resources and spaces that NYU offers to ensure every student of faith or no faith at all feels valued during their time at NYU.