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Archbishop George J. Lucas blesses the grounds June 30 of the St. John Paul II Newman Center near the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The center is expected to open in fall 2016.

Archdiocese breaks ground on Newman Center near UNO

With prayers, blessings and a shovel, Archbishop George J. Lucas helped break ground June 30 on construction of the St. John Paul II Newman Center near the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).

After blessing the grounds and the people involved with making the dream of a student center for Catholic worship, study and service a reality, the archbishop joined Lt. Gov. Mike Foley, UNO Chancellor John Christensen, City Councilman Chris Jerram, several students and others in picking up shovels of dirt to ceremonially begin the work of building a $22 million center to open by fall 2016 at the southeast corner of 71st and Pacific streets.

The center will include apartment-style dorm rooms for 164 students of all faiths, an outdoor courtyard, library, commons area and chapel.

Named after the late pope, the center will encourage students to explore and develop their faith, invite a personal relationship with Christ leading to discipleship, a love of the sacraments, discernment of vocations to the priesthood, religious or married life, and pursuit of authentic love as the foundation for relationships, archdiocesan officials have said.

“We’re getting closer to the realization of a dream” that began years before he became archbishop in 2009, Archbishop Lucas said. The center will provide a faith-based community to help encourage Catholic students and others to develop to their full potential, he said.

“We hope many students will be able to discern God’s love and plan for them,” the archbishop said.

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