By: Megan Palera
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is building a new Catholic church, and for good reason - there's no room.
The St. Thomas Aquinas Church at the Newman Center is located on 16th and Q Streets. On Sundays, it's standing room only as the aisles are flooded with UNL students.
"We have anywhere from 1,500 to 2,200 students who come here for Mass. And our chapel really only seats about 375," Father Robert Matya said.
The Newman Center says it's "A Great Problem to Have!" But still, a problem that needs to be fixed. So the best solution was to build and double the space. The project costs $25 million. The old building will be flattened and new 30,000 square foot center will replace it. The new church can seat up to 650 people.
"In the past, I have had students tell me that they go to other churches because they there is no room. So we think this new space will be able to accommodate them," Father Matya said.
Built in 1960, the Newman Center has been a "home away from home" for generations of students. But as the number of Catholic students hits 6,000, more space is needed. It will be a bitter sweet moment this Easter Sunday as the last mass is held in the old church.
"It'll be a big celebration for us. Kind of a grand way for us to leave this building," Father Matya said.
Construction will begin in the next few weeks. It's expected to be complete in the late fall of next year. In the meantime, Sunday mass will be held in the Student Union.