Campus Notebook: Racist vandalism at St. Paul campus; $1 million for ministry

by James Dearie

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Editor's Note: Welcome to NCR's college roundup, where every Friday we bring you the latest news in Catholic college and university life. Do you have news you would like to share? Email James Dearie at

MILWAUKEE, WIS. — Marquette University has received a $1 million "Thriving in Ministry" grant to support Christian ministry, the university announced in an Oct. 18 press release.

The grant, which comes from Lilly Endowment Inc., will help strengthen the university's "Companions in Ministry" pastoral support program to "develop small ecumenical affinity groups of clergy, including urban pastors, ordained women, internationally born pastors and those serving Hispanic congregations," the press release says. "The affinity groups will meet regularly for two years in conversations led by a specially trained peer pastor. The experience will begin and end with a two-day retreat. Affinity groups will meet together in a large group twice each year for prayer and education on topics suggested by the affinity groups."

The Lilly Endowment has given nearly $70 million in grants through the "Thriving in Ministry" program to support ministry across many Christian denominations.

KANSAS CITY, MO. — Avila University is hosting the sixth annual Greater Kansas City Peacebuilding and Nonviolence Conference Oct. 25-27, the university announced in an Oct. 17 press release.

The conference, titled "Achievements in Peacebuilding: Stories from the Field," is a partnership between the Kansas City-based Catholic university, Johnson County Community College, the International Relations Council of Kansas City, and Park University, based in nearby Parkville, Missouri.

According to the press release, "Avila will host Drew Matott, founder of the Peace Paper Project in a guided papermaking workshop, a screening of 'The Visitor,' and a panel discussion featuring Mattot and Danya Kerr, a representative from the non-profit organization, 'Once We Were Refugees.' "

SHAWNEE, OKLA. — Oklahoma City-based corporation Hobby Lobby agreed to purchase the main campus of St. Gregory's University for $8 million, the Associated Press reported Oct. 23.

Once the only Catholic university in Oklahoma, St. Gregory's operated from 1875 until last year, when a bid for a United States Department of Agriculture loan failed, leaving the university in dire financial straits.  It closed at the end of the 2017 fall semester. 

ST. PAUL, MINN. —The University of St. Thomas is investigating an incident of racist vandalism on its campus, Minneapolis television station WCCO reported Oct. 24.  

An African-American student found a racist message written on the door to his dorm room earlier this week, in what was apparently the second negative experience that made him feel unwelcome on the St. Paul campus.

"This behavior violates our convictions as a Catholic university and our code of conduct, and it will not be tolerated," the university said in a press release.

The university also said that if the vandal is found to be a student, that person will face disciplinary action and will be at risk for expulsion.

[James Dearie is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Contact him at]

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