Columbia Newman Center’s first Mass on the Quad in three years draws hundreds to the altar


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Several hundred young people, mostly students at the University of Missouri, Columbia College and Stephens College in Columbia, attended this year’s Mass on the Quad the evening of Sunday, Aug. 28, in Traditions Plaza in the middle of the University of Missouri campus.

“As we enter the beginning of a school year, it’s a chance for us to think of where we’ve gone before and what this year will bring, and looking at what the future holds for us,” stated Father Paul Clark, who presided at the Mass.

It was the first time the beloved tradition, organized by the St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish’s campus ministry department and parishioners, could be observed in three years, due to inclement weather and the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, the Mass was celebrated with clear skies and mild weather, the hymns and prayers carrying on a dialogue with the regular Sunday night bustle of the campus around it.

Fr. Clark, who until July was associate pastor of St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish, presided and preached the homily, with priests who live and minister in Columbia concelebrating.

Focusing on that Sunday’s readings, Fr. Clark pointed out that humility allows people to be truly free to live as beloved sons and daughters of the Father. He acknowledged how it can be easy for college students to believe the lie that their worth or success is based on what they do and how well they do it, “while humility allows us to see ourselves as God sees us, and the revelation of that relationship is a far greater success than anything that we could achieve.”

“I think of how many times I have had to learn the importance of humility — this importance of remembering who I am in the sight of  God,” Fr. Clark stated. “To remember who He is and who I’m not — and that’s NOT God.”

“If we’re holding onto exceptions that are placed on us or on anyone other than God, then we need to let go of it,” the priest advised. “Your heart is made in the image and likeness of an Eternal Being. Your fulfillment is not going to lie in anything outside of Him. Only your relationship with Him will fulfill that eternal longing and desire of your heart.”

Congregants were encouraged to submit their contact information, keeping them connected with events and activities at the Newman Center, located at 602 Turner Avenue.

Fr. Clark is currently diocesan vocation director, moderator of youth and young adult ministry and director of seminarians, as well as chaplain of Helias Catholic High School in Jefferson City.

Joining him at the altar were: Father Paulinus Aneke, associate pastor of St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish; Father José Enrique García Rizo from Spain and Father Geo Tharakan from India, who are students at the University of Missouri this semester; Father Patrick Adejoh, chaplain at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital; and Father Ignitius Nimwesiga, chaplain of Fr. Tolton Regional Catholic High School.