Why a New St. Paul’s?
Since its founding, St. Paul’s has continued to grow and is being called today to serve larger numbers of students in deteriorating facilities originally built in 1909 and last renovated in 1968. Students increasingly desire a chapel that reflects the beauty and transcendence of God, and we have a responsibility to give them a chapel for this authentic spiritual need.
The Eucharist is central to the sacramental lives of Catholics seeking to live their faith. Our students should be able to participate in a Mass that is held in an appropriate space, that is liturgically correct and that reinforces the rich experience of communal prayer and the sharing of sacraments. Both our main chapel and our crypt chapel will be built with this in mind.
If St. Paul’s is to reach out effectively to people on their spiritual journey, especially during this most formative period in their lives, it is extremely important that we have a chapel that can serve as their spiritual home — one they find welcoming, beautiful and inspiring.
The Student Center
Nearly two thirds of all Catholic college students will eventually stop attending Mass if they do not find a welcoming community of faithful peers who support them in their faith. Through its Bible studies, service groups, and other ministry programs, St. Paul’s provides many opportunities for students to form lifelong friendships in the context of their faith. The new facility is designed to offer many spaces for students to gather in more intimate groups, helping them find a true home among the 40,000 students that attend the University of Wisconsin.
The Liturgy and Sacramental Life The programming of St. Paul’s is centered on the Eucharist. Approximately 1,000 students attend Mass on Sunday, between 60 and 100 students regularly attend Mass each weekday, and a morning holy hour attracts about 100 students at various times throughout the week. Confession is offered before every Mass. We expect the new chapel to double mass attendance.
Small Bible Studies
The backbone of St. Paul’s is the small group Bible study ministry program. It is in these small catechetical groups that students have the greatest opportunity to converse freely about their theological and personal questions. There are over 60 graduate and undergraduate student Bible studies with between 350 and 400 students in attendance each week.
Large Group Events
Two weekly Thursday night events for undergraduate and graduate students consist of music, short entertainment, and a talk designed to help students grow in the Faith and experience community in a natural, inviting atmosphere. While they routinely gather between 150-400 students, depending on the topic, neither event meets in a space that promotes attendance. A new student center would greatly augment our ability to attract students and retain their involvement.
A strong retreat program can provide meaningful opportunities for students to pray, reflect, and discern their relationship with Christ in the context of the Church. It removes a student from daily concerns and gives them an opportunity to encounter God in a lifechanging experience. There are six annual retreats with 500 students attending.
Each year students lead 10-12 different semester break trips across the country, which draw robust attendance and student enthusiasm. More than 300 students participate in local service work each year.
A strong focus is placed on gathering students through food and fellowship, including cookouts, receptions and dances. A new student center would provide a dining room with a more inviting atmosphere, a hall for dances and receptions, and an area for students to convene easily for hospitality after Mass. Formation and Education Each Easter at St. Paul’s, over 20 students are baptized or fully initiated as Catholics. Mini courses on theology are offered each semester, along with lectures, regular spiritual direction, meditations and vocational retreats. There is currently only one meeting space at St. Paul’s, greatly hampering this aspect of the ministry.