Changes coming to the Catholic Newman Center


photo courtesy of Traci Ferguson

Members of the Catholic Newman Center pose for a photo during a hike at the New River Gorge.

One campus ministry is finding peace in a transition that comes in the way of twelve seniors and a campus minister leaving. 

Next semester will bring new faces and a campus minister to the Marshall University Catholic Newman Center. Traci Ferguson, the current campus minster, is learning to say goodbye to the place and people who have been her home for 15 years. 

“The running joke around the Newman Center is that I walked in around 2004 and never truly walked out,” Ferguson said.  

After working in the center in roles ranging from music minster to office manager, Ferguson has been a part of the community for years and has fulfilled the role of campus minster since 2012. 

Now, with twelve seniors leaving, Ferguson moves on to the next phase of her life, shedding the role of campus minister and becoming a businesswoman. She will launch, a source for self-care and spirituality.

“This year will be one of massive transition for me,” Ferguson said. “I am starting my own business as a professional speaker, coach and content creator. I have been blessed with a certain set of life experiences that have given me a great deal of clarity on what it means to live intentionally and presently; in line with my true purpose and potential. I dream of inspiring others to do the same.”

With Ferguson preparing to leave, senior anthropology and history major Katie Tennant does the same. Coming to the center her freshman year, Tennant said it has become a place of community and love, which are the aspects she will miss the most. 

“I have found an amazing little family in this community that I am beyond grateful for,” Tennant said. “I am going to miss the safety and comfort that comes with the center.

Much like the church, the Newman Center is not limited to its walls. We are the Newman Center, and I hope we all keep that connection for the rest of our lives.”

For Tennant, she said there are many lessons she will take with her in this next phase of life, but one of them is how she encounters people, which she learned from her time at the Newman Center. 

“As I go into this next phase, I will be taking a lot more than memories,” Tennant said. “I think my biggest takeaway from my time at the Newman Center is to leave everyone and everything with more love than when I first encountered them or it.”

Although students are leaving, those who remain are dedicated to making the center the same inviting atmosphere it has always been, said Samantha Graffius, communications disorder graduate student. 

“I hope I can be a familiar face to anyone who decides to come to the Newman Center,” Graffius said. “I really want everyone to feel the same love that I feel when I walk through the doors. I hope we can continue to keep the same atmosphere Traci has created over the years.”

For Graffius, the center is more than just a building, but a community that she said she hopes students for years to come will experience. 

“I have always felt welcomed and wanted at the Newman center,” Graffisu said. “It has always been a place I can go to either spend some time in prayer to relax or even just to be around good company. I have met a lot of amazing people there that I know I will be friends forever with.”

Although changes are about to happen, Tennant said she is happy for everyone moving on and hopes the center can continue to grow for years to come. 

“I hope the Newman Center continues to thrive despite all the change, especially for the older students,” Tennant said. “I wish all students could experience what a wonderful person Traci is, but I am also really proud of her for leaving. She is the most giving person I know, and nothing makes me more happy than to see her choose herself.”

Through years of ups and down, Ferguson said the lessons she has leaned while being the campus minister, will be carried with her forever. 

“Before I was a Campus Minister, I thought I knew how to listen,” Ferguson said. “This position taught me to listen though. It has also taught me that what one person needs from ministry is not what every person needs. Most importantly, however, it taught me of God’s power to truly work any and every situation for good.

“The years that I have been a Campus Minister have been some of the most difficult years of my personal life,” Ferguson said. “It is a true testament to the God I serve, that I could show up to work broken and still make an impact.” 

Meredith O’Bara can be contacted at [email protected]