Ellen Hanson ’09, Marla Moss ’08, and Aaron Hutnick ’08, from left to right, prepare vegetables for their weekly Friday Shabat dinner. Nearly 50 students visit the Hillel house each week for the service and dinner, which is made by the students of the organization.
Hillel has made having a comfortable place to gather one of its top priorities. More than 250 students attended its Fall barbecue, and about 40 to 50 students show up for Friday Shabat dinner each week at the interim Hillel house, featuring remodeled rooms, a 50-inch flat screen TV, and wireless Internet access. Hillel gave up its post on Maplewood Avenue to the new Bradley expansion plans, and hopes to be settled into its new home on Fredonia Avenue by January 2008.
Hillel advisor and English professor Dr. Seth Katz believes the accommodations found at the interim house have been a big hit with students and added that you have to make the place more attractive to students. “For some, the religious aspects will be enough,” Katz said. “Still, religion doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.”
The Jewish cuisine made available to students is one of the things Larry Reiser ’74 MS ’76 recalls most. During Reiser’s college days, the Hillel house was on the top floor of the Garrett Center. “I remember every Thursday, they sponsored a Kosher corn beef lunch. I think it cost about $2. Someone went up to Chicago each week to bring back fresh deli meat, and it sure beat dorm food.”
Since then, Hillel has expanded to include more events for students. While the number of Jewish students at Bradley has decreased, Hillel involvement has increased. Students take part in an array of social events, from barbeques and a weekly bagel brunch to working on joint projects with the local synagogue community. Josh Cohen ’05 said the traditional Friday night dinner and following service was a treasured part of his time at Bradley, and notes that “everyone was always welcome.”
For some, Hillel was more than just another student organization. Jackie Farber ’05 now works for Hillel in upstate New York. “Hillel was like my family. It was my Jewish family while I was on Bradley’s campus. They helped me grow, change, and learn more about my religion, and were around to celebrate Jewish holidays with me.”
Visit bradleyhillel.org for more information.
Students from the Newman Center toured the Vatican gardens outside of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome during their Spring Break pilgrimage.Front row from left to right, Katie Hamill ’08, Emily Brown ’09, and Bethany Jones ’09. Back row, Joe Macaluso ’08, Sara Worrell ’09, Anne Stein ’10, Newman Center director Father Stanley Deptula, and Joel Doran ’09.
With more than one third of Bradley’s student population listed as Catholic, the St. Joseph Newman Center is one of the largest religious organizations on campus, as well as one of the oldest. Its roots date to 1948, under the direction of Father William Feeney. The annual back-to-school cookout now attracts about 550 students, with about half continuing to attend Mass in St. Mark’s Church each Sunday. “I would absolutely say that this generation is spiritually hungry,” said Father Stanley Deptula, director of the Newman Center.
For many students, the Newman Center is a home away from home. Two spirited golden retrievers eagerly greet visitors at the door, students study in the sunroom and study rooms, take a coffee break in the café, and watch favorite movies in the “Holy Family Room.” All of these rooms have recently been remodeled, but perhaps no room brings greater comfort than the student chapel, featuring marble-tiled floors and statues of saints. Deptula says they try to accommodate students’ busy college schedules by keeping the chapel open 24/7.
“Our chapel is the heart of the building,” said Deptula. “It’s there during the thick of an exam, a fight with a boyfriend, for a quiet conversation with Jesus about questions of life, or to experience Him during daily Mass.”
Amy Groh ’06, director of ministry advancement at Newman, remembered just a few years earlier when “we had less than 100 students at Sunday Masses and almost no one attended daily Mass.” Students now participate in all areas of the Mass, and on some days the chapel is too full to hold daily Mass, involvement Groh said can be largely attributed to Deptula’s arrival at Newman in 2004.
Support from the diocese, parents, and former students allowed Deptula to hire Groh and Joe Chovan ’06 to help coordinate activities for current students. Chovan graduated with a degree in secondary special education, but said he couldn’t pass up Deptula’s offer to work at Newman. He is the director of retreats, which involves working with student leaders to plan the Koinonia weekend retreat each semester. Chovan believes these retreats have played a large role in cultivating a greater sense of community at Newman.
Groh and Chovan said the Newman Center provides a wide range of activities to meet any student’s spiritual and social needs. Daily Masses, adoration, and confessions are all held throughout the week. “Fridays @ Newman” have become famous for fun group outings, of which favorites have included a fondue and karaoke night, Morton’s Pumpkin Festival trip, spring formal, and a Midnight Mass with Christmas carols and breakfast on study day.
Visit bradleynewman.org for more information.