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4B Vermillion Plain Talk Heritage 2016, www.plaintalk.net The Catholic Church St. Thomas More Newman Center Offers Support To Students BY SARAH WETZEL For the Plain Talk There are many sources of religious support for University of South Dakota students and one of those is the St. Thomas More Newman Center. Father Jess Norfolk is in his third year at the Newman Center. “It’s my understanding that the building was built in 1964,” he said. “It has been the only building. If they were meeting before then I don’t have an awareness of where they were meeting.” According to Norfolk it is possible that students met at St. Agnes in town before that. Though both part of the Roman Catholic Church, Norfolk said St. Agnes and the Newman Center are two different entities. “We’re doing two different kinds of work,” he said. “I primarily focus on the students and staff of the university and they take care of any of the families in town or single people not associated with the university. We know several students from the university and some young families in graduate school that go to St. Agnes to worship there but my primary focus would be the primary campus community.” Attendees of the center regularly get involved in the community according to Norfolk especially with service organizations and outreach such as SESDAC, the welcome table, medical studies, hospital and nursing home volunteering and childcare volunteering. “They’re definitely reaching out through service projects,” Norfolk said. “They worked with a woman in town who was a hoarder. They helped her clean out her apartment. The department of social services got in contact with us and reached DAVID LIAS/FOR THE PLAIN TALK The St. Thomas More Newman Center’s primary focus is the students and staff of the University of South Dakota. Built in 1964 the Newman Center has had a strong impact on attendees over the years. out to us. There are individual things where we can work with individuals or a family. Sometimes it’s larger.” Service even extends far beyond the Vermillion community. “We send out missionaries in the United States to college campuses, sometimes international,” Norfolk said. “Our missionaries here during their time of going to school here they work as missionaries and instead of going into their profession or their career they believe God’s calling them to do a two year commitment as a missionary on a college campus throughout the United States.” There have been several well-known community members take part in the services at the Newman Center. “Probably one of the most notable to the alumni that have been here is one of the priests that was here in the early days late 1960’s, early 1970’s,” Norfolk said. “His name is Monsignor James Doyle. He was chaplain of the year at the Newman Center. He also taught at the university. He taught a scripture class and was just known well in the community. I believe at a certain time the university gave him either an honorary degree or they honored his service here.” The Newman Center has had a strong impact on attendees over the years. “Bill Baker, the bank owner in Sioux Falls was not a Catholic at the time he went to the university but he had Catholic friends who invited him to mass, the primary worship service each Sunday,” Norfolk said. “Eventually he became part of the Catholic Church. That’s not uncommon. Each year we welcome new members into the Catholic Church who are students here on campus that didn’t grow up within the Catholic Church but met a friend or boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse. That’s one life-changing impact we’ve seen.” Another life changing experience Norfolk has seen is the way the Catholic community is able to come together at the center and support each other. Students reach out to each other through university classes or activities and invite to Bible study or other services at the Newman Center which deepens their faith. “They tell us 80 percent of students between the ages of 18 and 24 will leave their faith,” Norfolk said. “It’s a really crucial time for us to be able to reach out to them. That’s basically your college years or graduate school years. If you don’t remain connected to your faith during those six years it’s likely you’re going to leave. One of the things I hear from my students is ‘I don’t want to go to church by myself.’ So they have to reach out and go with them.” Norfolk is grateful for the presence the Newman Center has been able to have on the campus and community. “My sister graduated from the university in 1997,” he said. “When she has come back to visit me or for continuing education for her work she notices a big difference as far as resources available for spiritual growth, as far as people who attend the Newman Center. Just in that 20 year period there’s been a lot of growth. I’m grateful for that.” Member Highlight: Michael Burke BY SARAH WETZEL For The Plain Talk Michael Burke graduated from the University of South Dakota in May with a degree in Criminal Justice and is currently applying for a job with the University Police Department and is also considering law school. Burke has enjoyed two years at the Newman Center. “At the Newman Center you get to meet up with college kids that come from all different kinds of backgrounds and different majors,” he said. “You all kind of congregate around the mass. Father Jess is really good about having mass every day and making sure you can go to confession every day. It’s sort of a safe haven for Catholic students to meet up at. It was probably a key reason I was able to get through my classes.” Burke grew up in Pierre, SD and went to seminary for two years to be a Catholic priest before discerning out. “I went to SDSU for a year trying to figure out what I wanted to do and finally transferred down to USD,” he said. Burke is a big fan of TV shows and movies, currently Big Bang Theory. Burke also enjoys boxing at the USD Wellness Center, playing guitar and piano. “I love Vermillion because I love the college town experience,” he said. “You get the college kids when school’s in session but it’s a completely different town when school’s not in session. You’re close enough to pretty much do anything between Sioux Falls, Sioux City and Yankton but it’s still a small town feel.” Faith Fellowship Of The Open Bible Focuses On Outreach Member Highlight: Linda Scribner BY SARAH WETZEL For The Plain Talk Linda Scribner, retired costume designer and University of South Dakota professor, has lived in Vermillion since 1990. Scribner found Faith Fellowship through an ad in the Broadcaster. “I decided I would go out there and see what it was like,” she said. “Another member had been the pastor’s wife had “Everybody needs come to rent costumes for the Easter program they something sometime. To were doing and I thought be able to meet that need they seemed very nice. When I went over to the is really important to us. church one Sunday there The idea that I think that was Flora very welcoming and just kind of drawing is really important, I know me in. What I found at Faith it’s important to me, is it’s Fellowship was a very welnot just important what coming group of people. It’s very much a family. happens inside those four It feels very family-like walls. It’s important to be though it has gone through many changes over the a part of the community years.” and do something Scribner said she enjoys how the worship at worthwhile whether Faith Fellowship is a little it’s the baby closet or more upbeat, fun and open something else.” to things like contemporary music. “People like to clap LINDA SCRIBNER their hands and dance around a little bit,” she said. “It’s very joyful. I appreciated that very much. It was a break from a very solemn sort of thing. In that respect it kind of changed my whole walk with the Lord.” Scribner has been there through several pastors including Greg Trueblood who married her and her husband. Scribner also values the friendships she has made with the members. “Faith Fellowship is we have a great variety of people,” she said. “We have everything from University professors to lots of international students. There’s people that have lived in town since they’ve been born and there’s people that have come from all over the place.” Scribner appreciates the various outreaches Faith Fellowship participates in. “Everybody needs something sometime,” she said. “To be able to meet that need is really important to us. The idea that I think that is really important, I know it’s important to me, is it’s not just important what happens inside those four walls. It’s important to be a part of the community and do something worthwhile whether it’s the baby closet or something else.” As for her costume design career, Scribner said it came quite naturally, her mother being a fashion illustrator in the 1930’s. “In my house it was not unusual to draw pictures of people wearing fancy clothes and stuff,” she said. “That kind of got me started. She also taught me to sew very young. I started out trying to make ‘Gone with the Wind’ costumes for my barbie doll. Things like that.” Growing up in Illinois Scribner took a stagecraft course and that was the end of it. She attended Southern Illinois University and studied costume design after which she earned several masters degrees. “I love being a costume designer because you get to play all the parts in your head,” she said. “I simply do love the theater, simply love taking the ideas apart and making the characters come to life.” BY SARAH WETZEL For The Plain Talk The Faith Fellowship of the Open Bible is located on SD Highway 50 kitty-corner from Polaris in Vermillion. According to current Pastor Tony Armbrust, Faith Fellowship believes the Bible is God’s word which is relevant and powerful. Worship services are in a contemporary Pentecostal or Evangelical style. “People lift their hands and kind of celebrate,” Armbrust said. “There’s lots of freedom in the worship. We pray and believe for miracles and healings.” According to Armbrust, Faith Fellowship was a breakoff of Cornerstone Church sometime in the ‘70s. The members met at the Methodist church in town for a while before purchasing the property where the current building was built by volunteers sometime in the ’80s. Faith Fellowship has made a constant effort throughout its history to make an impact on the Vermillion community. “One of our ministries is prayer ministry,” Armbrust said. “We’ve been a real strong praying church for a long time.” But it goes far beyond simply prayer. “I remember that Faith Fellowship started the Thanksgiving meal under Pastor Joe Villalobos,” Armbrust said. “They used to have it at the armory on Thanksgiving for a number of years then it was handed off to the Welcome table I think around the time Pastor Villalobos left.” Also for the past seven years the church has housed the Vermillion Baby Closet (open the second Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.) along with various mom groups. “With the baby closet we do an annual baby shower,” Armbrust said. “We have that every year end of September, beginning of October. We have some big items and some of the nice clothes we’ve collected and diapers. We just throw a party for any moms who want to come who are pregnant or with children up to one. We can just celebrate life through that.” According to Armbrust people can donate money, kids clothes up to size 10-12, and other baby items or diapers. The items are then passed on at no cost to anyone who needs them. “It has been able to bless a lot of people,” Armbrust said. Though young families is indeed a strong focus of Faith Fellowship, the DAVID LIAS/FOR THE PLAIN TALK The Faith Fellowship of the Open Bible Church is located near Polaris, by the intersection of Highways 50 and 19. church definitely reaches out in other areas. “We do like to reach out and focus on college students,” Armbrust said. “Currently we are involved with a student group called Christ Ambassadors.” Changing lives, Armbrust said, is the main thing they hope for. “There are a lot of hurting and broken people and we’re able to minister to them and encourage them and bring them hope,” he said. “There is an individual who had a prescription drug addiction along with other addictions. He came into our church and had an experience with God for the first time in the worship. Over the years we’ve been able to help him and his family get free from their drug addictions. They’re not with us anymore because they’ve moved on but we still keep in touch.” Armbrust has been able to see the church help with others who struggle with things like addictions and depression. “Another ministry we do is called ‘God encounter,’” he said. “We’ve been doing this about four or five years. We take people through a weekend where we focus on getting them healed from their hurts in their past.We see by the end of this weekend people are really getting free and understanding. That helps so many people change through that, understanding who they are in Christ. “For me there was a lot of anxiety and it went back to my brother beating me up all the time,” Armbrust shared. “That’s just an example but a lot of people have been helped through this by getting that freedom and understanding who they are in God’s eyes.” Armbrust hopes that they are able to make some difference in the lives of those in the community. “There’s a lot of people that don’t go to church in our community,” he said. “We want all those people and all the students just impacted. Through prayer and reaching out to our community we want as many lives saved as possible.” Armbrust has worked to make sure anyone feels welcome. “We’re pretty free-flowing,” he said. “People can come as they are, they don’t have to wear anything special. Whoever you are and wherever you come from you can come and sit in and feel like you fit in. We don’t judge people based on what they look like. We just love them just like we would the next person and treat them all the same. That’s not a place you want to be judged.” Some notable members from the Vermillion community have included former state legislator Donna Schafer, former teacher Karen Wearne, and former university employee Rick Wearne.
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