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Newman Center in Orono to Be Rebuilt Thanks to Rebuild His Church Capital Campaign; Churches in Old Town, Bradley, and Penobscot Nation to Also Be Renovated

OLD TOWN---In recent years, the growing need for structural repairs, roof and equipment replacement, and other improvements facing the Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord convinced Fr. Bill Labbe, pastor of the parish, that the time to act had arrived.

“These issues are hurting our ability to effectively offer opportunities for people to draw closer to God and enhance their faith lives, both in our churches and at Our Lady of Wisdom Newman Center at the University of Maine,” said Fr. Labbe. “Our buildings have served us well for many years, but time and weather have taken their toll. This is most evident at the Newman Center.”

A campaign, Rebuild His Church, has been launched to respond to the challenges facing the parish’s churches (Holy Family Church, Old Town; Our Lady of Wisdom Church and the Newman Center, Orono; St. Ann Church, Bradley; and St. Ann Church, Indian Island). The campaign goal is $3.5 million, but the impact of the funds raised will be felt by area Catholics for generations to come:

Newman Center, University of Maine in Orono
The center, located at the University of Maine’s flagship campus, has provided a spiritual home for tens of thousands of UMaine students since 1946, first in what was called the “log cabin,” and now in its current location since 1972. Our Lady of Wisdom Newman Center is much more than a church for UMaine students and staff. It is home to the Black Bear Catholic student organization, many Bible study events, men’s and women’s faith sharing groups, and a host of social and service activities.

“While the building’s design was award winning, it was not well suited for the harsh Maine environment. Over the years many repairs have been made to lengthen the useful life of the building. Some of these have made matters worse. After much consultation, it was decided that a near rebuild is necessary to ensure a Catholic presence for years to come,” said Fr. Labbe.

The center’s nave will be enclosed to separate the worship space from other activities. A new multi-purpose space for meetings, ministries, and fellowship will be created. A more adequate kitchen will make providing Wednesday night suppers easier. On the exterior, weather-resistant siding, stained-glass windows from the former St. Ignatius Church in Sanford, separate entrances to the nave and the rest of the center, and a new roof line will make the building more user friendly and efficient.

Holy Family Church, Old Town
The church, located on 429 Main Street, will undergo a variety of structural repairs, some interior painting, and possibly the repaving of parking lots and driveways.

St. Ann Church, Bradley
The church, located on 84 Main Street, will see its parking regraded and repaved, single-walled oil tanks replaced with safer doubled-walled tanks, and minor roofing repairs completed.

St. Ann Church, Indian Island
The church, located within the Penobscot Nation, needs an exterior paint and trim job, a rebuilding of the chimney, repairs to the tin ceiling, and a repaving of the parking lot.

Over $2.2 million of the campaign’s proceeds will be committed to the improvements at the Newman Center, improvements that aim to connect, and reconnect, with young people becoming adults.  

“Our Lady of Wisdom Newman Center has a long history of offering Catholic students at UMaine a place to worship, to pray, and to flourish in a community that inspires them to be extraordinary and holy,” said Fr. Labbe. “It’s estimated that up to 80% of practicing Catholic college and university students leave their campuses no longer practicing any faith at all. The positive impact of Rebuild His Church can help us reverse that by revitalizing our students’ experiences of faith and the Church.”

Informational meetings announcing the plans and the campaign were held in the parish in December and informed parishioners and community members that these repairs could wait no longer.

“This is an historic moment for our parish that allows us to invest in our parishioners, our families, our students, our college community, and in the Church itself,” said Fr. Labbe. “It’s a call to discipleship. Just as the founding families of our respective churches answered the call, we, too, must work together to ensure our faith communities remain strong and growing into the future.”

For more information about the campaign, please contact Fr. Bill Labbe at wilfred.labbe@portlanddiocese.org or call (207) 827-4000. To sign up to make a one-time or recurring donation, click here.