Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Boston University Newman Coffee House--For Evangelization: I Need Your Help

Some of the Approximately 30,000 Undergrad and Graduate Students at Boston University

Dear Friends in Christ,

It's not too often that I use this blog to look for help.  Probably twice a year I mention the needs of the Catholic Center.  This is one of those times.  No!  Don't stop reading.  Come on, at least read it!

One of the things that's great about the Catholic Center at Boston University is that once people come through the door, they find a home here.  They find friends, a community, a place to pray, a place to study, a place to grow in their Faith and in a life committed to the Sacraments.  Once they are in the door, something great happens.

But, the biggest challenge is getting somebody to cross that threshold.  There are over 30,000 graduate and undergraduate students at Boston University.  That is a lot of young people all in one place!  I feel compelled to reach out to as many of them as I possibly can.  But that isn't so easy.  

I've been thinking about making the first floor of our Newman House into a kind of coffee house.  (Maybe Newman's Own would want to sponsor us . . . ).  What I envision is some coffee house style tables and chairs, some comfortable furniture, lighting etc.  I'd like to make it a place where students--Catholics and others--would feel comfortable coming to study, hang out, and maybe talk about important things.

So, I've had a great idea.  I've got no money actually to pay for it and I have limited interior decorating skills.  So, that's where someone who reads this might come in.  So, basically I've had a great idea and all I actually need now is materials and labor.  I've done the hard work already....thinking of the idea.  So . . . . .

Do you have money that you are dying to donate to a good cause?  Do you have expertise in "Coffee House" decorating?  Do you know somebody who has money that they want to donate?  Money that they'd like to see go towards the work of evangelization?  Money that would go to funding the Newman Center in the midst of a secular university located in the midst of a secular city?  Do you have leads on somebody who might have access to the type of furniture that I'm looking for?  Now, I don't want it to look like we went to a Yard Sale and picked up mismatched furniture.  It has to be something that is intelligently designed and actually matches and is welcoming.

Getting people in the door is the hard part.  Once they are here, we know what we are doing.  Creating an environment where students would feel comfortable coming in, studying together, and having a cup of coffee together would be the first step in evangelizing them.

This is St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Beverly After It Was Painted
I'm an idea guy.  But, I'm not a rich idea guy!  I'm a poor guy with good ideas.  And, I'm not a clever or flashy fundraiser.  There have been a few times when I've had the feeling that I have now.  The first was buying a new creche for my old parish church.  We had a million dollar debt at the time, but I felt like the creche we had was too small.  We decided to go for it and people came out of the woodwork to buy a magnificent manger scene for the Church.  It was truly beautiful and is something that continues to move hearts.  The second time was the crazy idea of painting a huge church.  A couple of years previously, we had a million dollar debt, but in the following years, we had raised so much money that we thought we should do something grand with it.  So, we painted the church and it came out magnificently.  The third time I had this feeling was when we started daily adoration in my previous parish.  Twelve hours a day each weekday.  It seemed too big of a project, but it brought extraordinary graces to the life of that parish, including many vocations to the priesthood.

So, I've got that feeling again.  I keep hoping that the BU Catholic Center gets that "big donor" some day who will fund our evangelization needs.  Until then, I need to beg everyone.  I just ask you to offer what you can.  If it is expertise, money, connections, or even a "share" on your Facebook or Twitter accounts.  Who knows who will see this plea?  Maybe some organization is interested in doing something like this and using it as a model.  Maybe some BU Alum wants to help.  Maybe some person interested in the New Evangelization is looking for a pilot program.  Maybe some organization that sponsors campus ministry programs will help.  Please give this post a "share."  Please.

When we purchased the Nativity Scene for my previous parish, the supplier told me not to worry because "people love to buy Nativity Scenes."  I recognize that "a coffee house" is not quite as sentimental as a Nativity Scene.  But, I think it may be a very fruitful means of evangelization.  If we get young people in the door of the Catholic Center at Boston University, maybe some day they will find themselves kneeling before a Nativity Scene in a parish church.  We need to get them now.  The people who frequent the Catholic Center also frequent the Holy Mass and the Sacrament of Confession.  If some nice tables, chairs, lighting, and coffee gets them into the door, I trust that the confession line and the communion line will also grow.  Again--30,000 young people walk by our door each day!

I'd like to create something beautiful, welcoming, and evangelistic.  That's the idea.  Can you help?  

If it works, I praise God. If it doesn't, then I trust it was not His Will.  But, I think I'm on to something.  I hope in the not too distant future to see more young people at the BU Catholic Center because some of you made that happen.  

You can donate directly to the BU Catholic Center at 211 Bay State Rd. Boston, MA 02215.  You can donate through ParishPay or PayPal by visiting our webpage at or by donating through Gofundme

Donating directly makes us the most money, but all donations are welcome!

Please share this post.

Your Brother in Christ,

Fr. David Barnes

1 comment:

  1. Fr. Barnes, you are to be commended for your excellent work. Wishing I had funds to help with your very worthy project, I am at least going to Share on my Facebook page. I will pray for your efforts toward a coffee house at the BU Catholic Center.