In 1914 twin sisters, Gertrude and Frances Chester, inquired about establishing a club for the Catholic students and faculty members. Martha Shea, professor of English, and Christine Wheeler, secretary to President Dearmont, were appointed to ask the permission of the president to begin a Catholic club. Their request was approved and the group was christened the Marquette Club after Fr. Jacques Marquette who worked among the Illinois Indians and, along with Louis Joliet, explored the Mississippi River. In 1956 the name was changed to Marquette-Newman Club to conform to national requirements and at later date to simply Newman Club. By 1993 the name being used was Catholic Campus Ministry. The student leadership group was called the Newman Council and the building at 512 N. Pacific Street was called the Newman Center. 

On Friday, June 1, 1962, Fr. Brauner, CM, flew to Wichita to consult with Bishop-Elect Ignatius J. Strecker about a badly needed chapel-classroom for our Center. Genuinely concerned, the bishop approved the proposed plans and construction began. With the chaplain and the students working on the project, the total cost was kept under the $10,000 limit assigned by the bishop

On September 16, 1962, the first Sunday Mass was celebrated. On September 30, Bishop Strecker officially blessed the new structure under the patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas, model for students. The chapel-classroom was a very welcome and needed addition to the Newman Center. With the curtain closed before the Sanctuary, Father Brauner held his accredited classes in Sacred Scripture, Theology, Church History, Apologetics, etc.

In November 1999, with help from the diocese, Fr. John Friedel arranged for purchase of the house at 520 North Pacific. The house, built by Renard and Lenore (Nora) Walther, had been used as the SEMO History Department's Center for Regional History.  Repairs and updates to the building have been made, and today it is known as the Marquette Student Center.

Why Newman?

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) was an Englishman who spent nearly all of his life in an academic setting. He was dedicated to pursuing religious truth and understanding the faith. Newman was raised in the Anglican Church. His search for truth led him to join the Catholic Church and was ordained a priest and, late in life, he was named a cardinal. His theological insights bore fruit in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's.

The "Newman Movement" had its origins just over 100 years ago when a group of Catholic students in Wisconsin formed the "Melvin Club" named after the person at whose house they met. Similar groups of Catholic support were starting all over the country. In 1893, the Catholic Club at the University of Pennsylvania chose to call themselves the "Newman Club" in honor of the great scholar who had just died three years earlier. During the 1900's, the Newman movement grew, and today Newman Clubs (Catholic Centers) can be found on most college campuses throughout the United States.

Why Marquette?

Fr. Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) entered the Jesuit novitiate at Nancy, France, in 1654. He studied philosophy and mathematics. As a Jesuit missionary for New France, in 1673 he set out with Louis Joliet on the expedition to explore the Mississippi River from Wisconsin traveling as far south as the Arkansas River.  Fr. Marquette's name was chosen for his contributions to the area and there is even a mural painting of him on the flood wall near the Mississippi River in downtown Cape Girardeau.

Why St. Thomas Aquinas?

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), is the preeminent spokesman of the Catholic tradition of reason and of divine revelation. He was one of the great teachers of the Catholic Church in medieval times and is honored with the title Doctor of the Church. His feast day is celebrated January 28.

The unity, harmony and continuity of faith and reason, of revealed and natural human knowledge, pervade the writings of Aquinas. As a Dominican priest and man of the Gospel, he was an ardent defender of revealed truth. He saw the whole natural order as coming from God the Creator, and saw reason as a divine gift to be highly cherished.

When asked why he stopped working on the Summa Theologica, Aquinas replied, "I cannot go on . . . All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me." From his Summa Theologica: "Hence we must say that for the knowledge of any truth whatsoever man needs divine help, that the intellect may be moved by God to its act. But he does not need a new light added to his natural light, in order to know the truth in all things, but only in some that surpasses his natural knowledge." (1-2, 109, 1)


Today, Catholic Campus Ministry continues to thrive with Catholic students at Southeast Missouri State participating in Mass and CCM events.   

St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel is no longer on double duty as a chapel and classroom, but is now used only as a chapel where students and staff can find a quiet place to pray, attend Mass and adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

The Newman Center is home to the CCM administrative offices and sees much student traffic throughout the day. 

The Marquette Student Center is a place of study, student relaxation and fun.

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