Tulane Catholic Center hosts groundbreaking for new, innovative building

Amanda Verdi, Staff Reporter

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There were not enough chairs to seat all the attendants at the groundbreaking for the Father Val Ambrose McInnes, O.P. Center for Catholic Life Sunday. The center, which will open in 2015, has officially started construction at its location at 1037 Audobon St.

Campus Minister and Director Father Thomas Schaefgen said the new center will benefit visitors both spiritually and academically.

“The Father Val McInnes Center will be a place of both spiritual and intellectual encounter – a place where first and foremost all may personally encounter Jesus Christ, a place where hearts and minds are formed in the chapel and in the classroom,” Schaefgen said.

McInnes, the namesake of the new building who died in 2011, was remembered fondly at the ceremony. President Michael Fitts said he was a vital part of the local community. 

“He’s part of the DNA of the Tulane community and I can’t think of a better person for whom this center could be named than Father Val,” Fitts said.

The new center will feature amenities such as office space for chaplain and staff, areas for quiet study, a full-service kitchen, a social hall and a 100-seat chapel. Over 3,000 individuals were served by the previous Catholic Center, according to Fitts. Fitts said the new center hopes to expand its influence. 

“The breadth of religious, academic, and extracurricular organizations on campus has awed me since I’ve been here,” Fitts said. “The Catholic Center, by building this new edifice which will have classrooms and all sorts of space for different academic, extracurricular and religious activities on campus, will be wonderful not only for the thousands of Catholic members of the Tulane community, but for all of Tulane.”

The groundbreaking ceremony was focused largely on students of Tulane University and how the center will aid in the growth of its young adult patrons. Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory Aymond said he anticipates the project will students to grow and develop. 

“We look to [students] to become the leaders of our church and our community in the future,” Aymond said. “We believe the center will play a part in being able to help you develop those gifts God has given to you. So to the young adult church, we are grateful to you, we have great love and affection for you and this project really is for you as you continue to grow.”