Washburn Catholic Campus Center turns 40, holds celebration

Timothy Lake

“Oh, Lordy! Look who’s 40!” The Washburn Catholic Campus Center ends its celebration of its 40th Anniversary with a Mass on Sunday conducted by the priest who began Mass at the center back in 1970.

Vince Krische returned to the University Catholic Campus Center after 40 years to conduct Mass in celebration of the momentous anniversary.

Washburn students and Topeka citizens gathered together for the Mass in the Washburn Room.

Krische explained the beginning of the Catholic Center, when he, Archbishop Ignatius Strecker, and the Pastor of the Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish drove to the corner of 17th  Street and Jewell Avenue and asked to purchase the house from the woman who lived there, all three standing in black suits wearing Roman collars. After replacing her home they turned the newly purchased house into the Washburn Catholic Campus Center.

The center began when the University was much smaller, and when the resources of Topeka were more able to help, and it was easier to get people involved, however the center is still able to retain a large following among Washburn students, and citizens of Topeka.

The toughest time for the center was in 1996 when there was no chaplain, very little student activity, and little community support. Topeka priests attempted to revive the center by allowing students to take on greater leadership roles, and through grass roots movements and lead to a much more active center.

Krische said that there wasn’t a chapel for Catholic students so they would have a “church in a box” and go around to the various buildings. Today there is a chapel inside the center.

Krische explained that he hopes that in the future that every university would have a house of Catholic studies, that would teach theology, philosophy, and history.

The Center will continue to offer classes on Catholicism, and continue its service projects in the future said Patti Lyon, Director of the Catholic Campus Center.

Lyon said that one of the most important things for the growth of the center would be a full time priest so that they would be able to have daily Mass.

Lyon said that she invites all Catholic students to get active at the Catholic Campus center, including attending Mass, enrolling in classes, and taking part in the service projects.