A Brief History of The Newman Foundation of Northern Ohio

(written by David A. Smith, Emeritus Member of the Foundation Board; edited by William B. Miller, Board Member) 

Newman the Person

In 1845, at the age of 44, John Henry Newman, a prominent Anglican priest, intellectual and author became a Roman Catholic.  After additional studies in England and Rome, he was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest.  Because of his leadership in theological and religious matters he attracted a number of followers.  Soon he developed an Oratory in Birmingham, England.  It was from there that he continued his intellectual pursuits and his preaching.  His interests in developing an educated and competent Catholic laity were expressed in his essay, titled:  “The Idea of a University”.

Newman strongly believed that the Church had a serious responsibility to meet the religious needs of its young men and women who were studying at non-Catholic universities.  He preached and wrote frequently on this subject.  At the age of 78, in recognition of his ministry, Pope Leo XIII elevated Newman to Cardinal of the Church, a position he held until his death at age 89.

Newman Campus Ministry

In 1893, three years after the death of Cardinal Newman, five pre-medical students at the University of Pennsylvania, inspired by Newman’s writings, sought out a local parish priest.  They hoped he would help them integrate Catholic theology with their college education.  The priest agreed to do so, and Newman Campus Ministry was born.  It has continued to grow into a nationally recognized ministry, meeting the needs of students, faculty, and staff.  It is recognized by Church leadership as a vitally important part of ministry to young adults and those who participate in their education.  The Newman experience contributes substantially to the development of a faith-filled, educated and competent laity, which was the dream of Cardinal Newman!

Newman Campus Ministry in the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio

Newman Campus Ministry was functioning in a limited capacity in the Diocese prior to WWII.  It came into greater prominence after the war, as new students flooded the colleges and universities, with the help of finances from the federal government (G.I Bill), which ear-marked funds for higher education.  Around that time, the Bishop formally assigned priests to work as “Newman Chaplains” to non-Catholic college and university campuses in the diocese.  The first full-time chaplain was Fr. Paul Hallinan.  Fr. Hallinan, building on Newman’s vision for higher education, had a tremendous impact on faith development of the Catholic students in the Diocese of Cleveland during his ministry.  Recognized why the Church for his pastoral leadership, Fr. Hallinan eventually became Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston , S.C., and later was named Archbishop of Atlanta, GA.

In the 1960’s, as a result of the Second Vatican Council, there was an increased call for involvement of the laity in positions of leadership in the Church.  This was true at both the professional and the volunteer levels of leadership.  In 1967, Fr. Eugene Best, the Diocesan Director of Newman Campus Ministry, called together a group of Cleveland lay people, many with “Newman Club” backgrounds.  All agreed that continuing to build and support a vision for an informed Catholic laity, equipped for leadership in the Church was an important goal.  A proposal was made that a group of lay people form a charitable foundation, incorporated under the laws of the State of Ohio, and governed by a Board of Trustees, that would support Newman Campus Ministry in the Diocese.

The Newman Foundation of Northern Ohio

A formal agreement between the Bishop (Bishop Issenmann) and those who had agreed to serve on the newly formed board was reached in July, 1968, and the Newman Foundation of Northern Ohio was given legal status in February, 1969.  Mr. George Goudreau, who was the driving force behind the development of the Newman Foundation was then elected Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

In the early and mid-1970’s the Foundation conducted extensive efforts for fundraising.  The funds were used to support the development of Newman Campus Ministry on many secular campuses in the Diocese.  This fund-raising effort continues to the present day, helping the Diocesan Director for Newman Campus Ministry and the respective Campus Ministers by providing grants that provide money for such things as mission trips to help the poor and the marginalized, educating students and others who are part of the university regarding Catholic faith and practices,  providing funding for professional development for Newman Campus Ministers, and a whole host of other worthwhile “faith-based activities”.

In addition to raising funds, the Newman Foundation Board also assists the efforts of Newman Campus Ministry in the Diocese by:  providing business, promotional and professional expertise (in an advisory capacity) to the Bishop and the Diocesan Director for Newman Campus Ministry, as requested.  This is done primarily through meetings (approximately quarterly) of the Board, which also include the Diocesan Director for Campus Ministry who, along with the Bishop, is an ex-officio member of the Board.

How the Newman Foundation of Northern Ohio Distributes Funds to Campuses

The Foundation Board uses the proceeds developed from the investment of its assets in order to provide funding each year in the form of “grants” to the Newman programs on the respective campuses served by Newman Campus Ministry.  The total amount of grants to be awarded to campuses each year is based on a three year rolling average of the amount of the assets in the trust.  The payout per year has varied over the years, but has generally ranged from 5 to 8 percent of the (three year average) asset value, as calculated at the end of each of the three respective years.  In this way, the fund can generally take into account both the “strong” and the “weak” years of the stock market.  The great majority of expenditures by the Board each year go to fund the grant requests, while a small amount of money is used to cover other expenses of the Board, including publicity, fees involved in applying for and retaining our 501c-3 status, office supplies, etc.

We Are:  Empowered by the Spirit

In 1986, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, (then known as the National Conference of Catholic Bishops) published their Pastoral Letter on Campus Ministry titled:  Empowered by the Spirit.  After over 35 years, it still stands as a defining document, describing the parameters of quality Catholic Campus Ministry on colleges and universities throughout the country.  It highlights the following six aspects that should be part of every campus ministry program:  

  1. Forming the Faith Community
  2. Appropriating the Faith
  3. Forming the Christian Conscience
  4. Educating for Justice
  5. Facilitating Personal Development
  6. Developing Leaders for the Future.

Empowered by the Spirit continues to serve as an important document, giving sound guidance directly from the bishops to all who are responsible for the formation, operation and continuation of quality Catholic Campus Ministry on campuses throughout the nation.  In the Diocese of Cleveland, this document continues to guide the overall operation of our Newman Catholic Campus Ministers and the Newman Foundation of Northern Ohio.  As with any organization that has endured through the years, we stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us – leaders from the past who have helped shape who and what we are today.  The Newman Foundation of Northern Ohio owes a debt of gratitude to the outstanding men and women: clergy, religious and lay, who have been leaders in assuring that the Catholic faith is taught, experienced and respected throughout Northern Ohio.  And Empowered by the Spirit has helped shape that fine legacy!