Work on $13M Catholic center near UNO expected to start

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The Archdiocese of Omaha will soon begin construction on its St. John Paul II Newman Center adjacent to the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Pacific Campus that will include student housing and a chapel.

The archdiocese announced today it will host a 9:30 a.m. groundbreaking ceremony on June 30.

Ceremony participants expected to attend, include: the Rev. George Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha; Rev. Joe Taphorn, Director, St. John Paul II Newman Center; John Christensen, UNO Chancellor; Mike Foley, Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska; Drey Hicks, City of Omaha Mayor’s Office; and Chris Jerram, Omaha City Council. All are welcomed to attend.

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The archdiocese paid $1.8 million in January for the center’s 3.5-acre site, at the southeast corner of 71st and Pacific Streets.

Newman Centers provide Catholic ministry and are common near non-Catholic campuses across the country, including the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Iowa.

They are named in honor of Cardinal John Henry Newman and were inspired by his writings.

The 76,000-square-foot center near UNO will feature apartment-style units that’ll house 164 students in fall 2016. There will also be a courtyard and prayer garden.

The cost is an estimated $12 million to $13 million, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

“The purchase is an investment by the archdiocese in the welfare of higher education students – including encouraging vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life and Christian marriage, and service to the community,” the archdiocese stated in a Thursday news release.

“With a growing number of Catholic students at UNO participating in Bible studies, worship opportunities, outreach to the poor and needy, and spiritual retreats, a space to call their own is needed. The JPII Newman Center is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016 with a student residence hall, an outdoor courtyard, a residence for two priests and a chapel.”

The archdiocese, through a nonprofit corporation, will own and operate the center. The center’s housing and other services will be open to students of all faiths.

For more details about the Newman Center, visit jpiiomaha.org
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