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Letter: Catholic center's priorities not in proper order

The Newman Catholic Student Center at Duke should be congratulated. The Raleigh Diocese's acquisition of the house off East Campus will probably help congregate and organize Catholic undergraduate and graduate students at Duke, where community building is essential. Many of us students need these sorts of spaces to pray and interact with people with whom we identify.

However, the readers of The Chronicle and, in particular, the Catholic students at Duke should be aware that the acquisition of the house could be a reflection of the Newman Center's poor set of priorities.

About a year ago, the Catholic community at Duke suffered a great loss. Sister Joanna Walsh was let go because of lack of funding. Whether she was helping organize events, coordinating Mass, holding weekly "office hours" on East Campus, offering free massages during finals or keeping close contact with other religious ministries at Duke, Sister Joanna helped build community. She was essential to the Catholic community at this university.

Rev. Joe Vetter made the right decision when he hired someone to maintain close contact with the students after Sister Joanna was no longer with the Newman Center. However, the position that this person holds seems to be conditional upon the amount of funding that the Catholic center receives.

With funding, the position will continue to exist. Without funding, the students will lose that person to whom many of us have gone to get advice or for friendship.

Today, the Newman Catholic Student Center enjoys the use of a house off East Campus in the hopes of enriching its community life. If the center and its administrator can find enough money for such a significant purchase, then how can they not find enough funding to sustain the human ties between the Catholic Student Center and its students?

It may just be an issue of priorities.


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