A History of Newman

The Newman Catholic Student Center Parish is somewhat rare in that it is both a campus ministry and a parish. As members of one Newman Family, we all participate together in liturgies and many other activities.

Over the years, many priests from the Diocese of Raleigh have served the parish, and the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales served for almost a decade in the 1970s. Sisters from different religious orders also worked full-time in student ministry. Newman has also been served by many laymen and laywomen in various staffing and ministerial positions. Notable among them was Dale Renguette, beloved by students and parishioners alike, who for almost forty years was the only person on staff. The Renguette Room in the Newman Church building is named in his honor.

historical Timeline

1917 - One Catholic student on the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus.

1922 - Chapel Hill becomes a mission church of Durham and Masses are celebrated at UNC.

1940 - Father Francis Morrisey assigned to minister to Catholic students at UNC and Duke.

1942 - University chosen as a Navy Pre-flight School, increasing the Catholic population dramatically.

1946 - Diocese of Raleigh purchases property on Pittsboro Street across from The Carolina Inn.

1949 - Catholic students on campus are known as the Aquinas Club.

1954 - Aquinas Club renamed The Newman Club.

1968 - Newman Catholic Student Center built.

1971 - Bishop Waters names the Newman Center a ‘Personal Parish’ under the title of Mary, Mother of the Church.

2013 - Former Wesley Foundation building purchased; now the Newman Activity Center.

2014 - Friars Minor Conventual (Franciscans) assume care of the Newman Parish Center.

With the arrival of the friars, things have come full circle since the time of Fr. Morrisey, as the Franciscans (who live in a friary near the Chapel Hill-Durham border) minister to both the Duke and Carolina Catholic communities.