Catholic students on the University of Tulsa campus formed the Catholic Discussion Club. The first meeting was held on February 20, 1946 and Robert D. "Bob" Mannix was elected president. The Newman Club, established by members of the former Catholic Discussion Club, held its first meeting on October 2, 1946, in Marquette Hall at Christ the King Parish. Reverend John J. Sullivan, assistant pastor at Holy Family Cathedral, was the first chaplain and Bob Mannix was the first president. Father Sullivan would retire on August 8, 1993, in St. Joseph, Missouri as the Bishop of the Diocese Kansas City. The Tulsa Chapter of the Newman Center became affiliated with the National Newman Federation in Washington, D.C. and the Southwest Province.
A house with two lots at 3112 East 5th Street was purchased for the first permanent meeting place. Bishop McGuinness dedicated this building in December 1955. Reverend William J. McCarthy, assistant at Holy Family, was named the chaplain.
The Newman House underwent significant remodeling, which included a proper chapel. Bishop Reed blessed this chapel in April. At the time, the chaplain was Reverend Michael E. Keatinge, pastor of Claremore.
Mass was celebrated on the TU campus for the first time. Reverend Thomas K. Melton, the Newman chaplain and assistant pastor at St. Francis Xavier Church, offered the Eucharist at Sharp Chapel.
Reverend Robert T. "Bob" Schlitt was appointed as TU's first full-time resident Catholic chaplain.
Sisters Rose Mary Elsbernd and Rosemary Hemesath, F.S.P.A. (Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, of La Crosse Wisconsin) were asked by Bishop Ganter to assume responsibilities as campus ministers in the Tulsa area. The name of the Newman Center was changed to Metropolitan Tulsa Catholic Campus Ministry.
The Newman Center building was traded to the University of Tulsa for the land at the present site of the St. Philip Neri Catholic Newman Center. The original house was dismantled for the construction of the Allen Chapman Activity Center. The Newman Center temporarily moved to a small house at 3205 East 5th Place.
A building committee headed by Reverend Paul E. Eichoff formed to plan a new center.
Bishop Beltran assigned Reverend Timothy Davison as chaplain, while continuing as the chaplain at Bishop Kelley High School. Father Davison replaced Father Bob Schlitt, who completed his second assignment at TU, having served previously from 1965 to 1973.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new center was held on May 22 at 4th Place and Florence. Construction began in August. The first board of trustees was appointed by Bishop Beltran.
The new St. Philip Neri Catholic Newman Center was dedicated on April 21, 1991, by Bishop Beltran. Reverend Timothy Davison was appointed full-time resident chaplain. Soon after, he was appointed as the diocesan vocation director.
Stuart Crevcoure entered the seminary and was the first TU student associated with the Newman Center to do so. St. Philip Neri House, a satellite residence for young men planning to enter the seminary, was established at 3rd Street and Florence. It was dedicated by Bishop Slattery on August 15.
Construction began on a new addition to the center, a game room named in honor of Bishop Sullivan. The Newman Society celebrates its 50th Anniversary on the TU campus with a Mass and dedication of the new game room on September 19.
Reverend Daniel Mueggenborg was named chaplain. The Newman Choir organized under the direction of student Brian Gonzales. The first ERiS Youth Rally for junior high school students was presented by Newman Center students.
The Newman Center sponsored its first education and immersion program. In December, a course in Marian theology was completed with a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Annual high school confirmation retreats for area high school students began.
The Catholic Faith Series immersion program began with a year-long study of early church history and Catholic doctrine. The course ended with a two-week pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, Florence, and Milan. Also, the Social Justice Guatemalan immersion program began. After an overview course in the Church's teaching on social justice, student and staff of the Newman Center traveled to the Catholic Mission of Oklahoma in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. The construction of two homes for area families commenced. The Catholic Faith Series was recognized by the Catholic Campus Ministry Association as one of six exemplary programs nationwide.
Father Jack Gleason, pastor of the Church of the Madalene and the diocese's vocation director, was named chaplain of the Newman Center. Father Stuart Crevcoure, a Newman Center alumnus, was named assistant chaplain.
Father Joe Townsend, pastor at Saints Peter and Paul Church, was named chaplain. Father Stuart Crevcoure continued as assistant chaplain and was also named parish administrator for Sacred Heart Church in Sapulpa, Oklahoma.
Father Stuart Crevcoure, was appointed chaplain of the Newman Center. The Social Justice Guatemalan Immersion program was recognized by the Catholic Campus Ministry Association as one of six exemplary programs in the nation.
The Newman Center library received an important collection of books from the estate of Dr. Robert Tompkins. Included in this collection are several rare volumes from the personal library of Cardinal John Henry Newman.
The Newman Scholars Program was inaugurated. Five scholarships for Catholic students at the University of Tulsa are endowed through the university.
Father Jovita Okonkwa was appointed Chaplain of the Newman Center and Father Gary Kastl was appointed Assistant Chaplain.
Father Matthew Gerlach was appointed Chaplain of the Newman Center, sharing duties with his appointment as Vocations Director. Father Matt also renovated the apartment at the Newman Center and lived there during his tenure at the Newman Center. The Chapel of the Good Shepherd was repaired due to damage during a rainstorm.
Father Kerry Wakulich was named part-time Chaplain of the Newman Center in addition to his duties as Chaplain at Bishop Kelley High School.
The Faith and Food program was recognized by the Catholic Campus Ministry association as one of six exemplary programs in the nation.
FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionaries served the students of TU for the first time. The missionaries offer their daily life for serving Christ by praying, being vibrant on campus, starting Bible studies, and fostering disciples to multiply the flock. Read more about FOCUS at TU and their tremendous work.
The mission of the St. Philip Neri Catholic Newman Center is to prepare university students for a life of faith and leadership in the Catholic Church and service to the world.
An active ministry on the TU campus, the Newman Center provides weekly liturgies, as well as educational, social, and service opportunities for students of all faiths. Students enrolled at other colleges and universities in the Tulsa area are encouraged to participate, too.
The Newman Center is a member of the National Catholic Student Coalition and the Catholic Campus Ministry Association. The Newman Center also connect with other campus ministries through regional and national conferences and retreats.
- Chaplain – Father Kerry Wakulich
- Director of Development – Megan Meussner
- Administrative Assistant – Chelsea Junger
- Tuesday Lunch Coordinator – Joe Kaipo
- Music Director – David Kennedy