Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

While many students are wondering what is happening with the Newman Center?s roof, Father Sam offers some answers about the process of getting a new roof and the complications that have slowed construction.Anyone traveling on New Street between North and South Campuses has noticed that the Newman Center looks very quiet. All semester the sign in front of the Newman Center has read: “Closed for new roof.” This has many students wondering what exactly happened to the old roof.

Father Sam of the Newman Center took the time to explain what is going on with the roof, and why it looks like there has been little construction over the past months. Putting on a new roof sounds far less complicated

than it actually is. The main problem with the roof has been the deterioration caused by years of water leakage.

This project is actually the third roof that the Newman Center will be receiving since the building opened in 1971. The policy with a third roof is that instead of constructing it over top of the first two, the first two roofs must be fully torn off in a process appropriately called a “complete tear-off.”

As the project got underway and the first two roofs were being removed, it was discovered that the water damage was far more extensive than anyone had anticipated. Water leakage had penetrated through to the ceiling, making it necessary to repair the ceiling as well. Tiles from the drop ceiling were actually falling to the floor, said Father Sam.

The process becomes more complicated. What most students do not know is that between the exterior roof that protects the building from the elements and the drop tile ceiling that can be seen from the inside of the building, there are several feet of space containing wires, ventilation ducts, and a large metal grid which holds the ceiling tiles in place.All of this has been damaged by the water leakage from the roof, and now all of it has to be replaced. Essentially, the project went from putting a third roof on the Newman Center, to replacing the roof, the ceiling, and everything between them. The job was supposed to take three weeks, but it has now been months. “The deterioration can?t be allowed to continue,” said Father Sam. “It has got to be replaced.” Father Sam emphasized that no one is at fault for the deterioration and the delay in construction.

The Newman Center building does not actually belong to the university but to the archdiocese of Philadelphia, which covers five counties. “We are just one of many buildings,” said Father Sam. The reasons for the delay in construction are as complicated as the deterioration in the building.

Because the job became much more complicated than everyone anticipated, it now must be “re-evaluated and re-approved” by the Archdiocese. This takes time and paperwork. More people will need to be brought in because of all the different parts of the building that need to be replaced or repaired. Many students are wondering why it looks like nothing is happening on the building.

“I take the bus to North Campus to go to class and frequently read the sign to see what the status of the building is,” said Khristina Renninger. “But to me it looks like nothing is happening.” The reason it looks like there has been no construction on the building is because they are still waiting for approval to go with the newly defined job.

The building is secure for now with a temporary roof, but,as Father Sam said, the temporary roof can only stay for so long. Newman Center activities are still taking place on North Campus. Weekly Sunday Mass is being held in Main Hall room 168 at both 5:30 and 9:00 p.m.

Catholic Newman Student Association (CNSA) meetings are being held Wednesday nights in 254 Sykes from 7:30-9:00 p.m., and Tuesday night Bible study is held in 255 Sykes from 5:15-6:30 p.m. “We are also sharing an office with the Psychology Club,” said Father Sam, which is in the Student Organization Offices on the second floor of Sykes, room 224.

The Newman Center has been working with local churches such as Sts. Simon and Jude on West Chester Pike and St. Agnes on Gay Street in town. Students from the Newman Center have done volunteer work at St. Agnes and attended Easter vigils at Sts. Simon and Jude where they were “welcomed with open arms.”

“We held the Easter vigils at Sts. Simon and Jude not because there was no room for us on campus, but because we felt that such complicated and unique masses as those should be held in a church setting,” said Father Sam.

Although the whole situation has put Newman Center attendees out of their comfort zone, Father Sam believes there are some positives.

“We?ve given up everything that is comfortable,” he said. But more positively, “I feel like we have been placed more centrally into the heart of campus,” said Father Sam. “We?re on your turf.” He said he thinks that this new location on North Campus can help people learn more about what the Newman Center does.

The Newman Center, which is only one of four in the Archdiocese, serves Catholic students and local residents, but all are welcome. Father Sam remains ositive; if there?s one thing he wants students to take from this situation, it?s that “the church is about more than a building; it?s about a community.”

There is currently no projected date as to when the Newman Center will re-open.

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