A look into Metanoia, Newman’s Catholic living community

May 09, 2023

After a six-year hiatus, Metanoia is back and flourishing on the Newman campus.

Metanoia consists of 10 members who want to create a lifestyle based on Catholic values that honor God, serve the community and promote human dignity and academic growth. 

Metanoia dissipated in 2016 but was brought back in the fall of 2022. This living community, which is located on the third floor of Beata Hall, has two pods each equipped with five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a living room. They also have a shared lobby on the floor where the community gathers in prayer and fellowship.

Not only are members enriching their faith through this community, but they can also take advantage of a scholarship to supplement the cost of room and board.  

Metanoia group poses for a photo.

Humble Helfrich

Elise Helfrich, the resident assistant (RA) for the Metanoia floor, is a junior majoring in biology with a pre-dental concentration. Metanoia was a source of joy for Helfrich this semester. It helped her gain lifelong friendships and grow in understanding and passion for her faith. 

Growing up Catholic, faith has always been extremely important to Helfrich.  

I desired a way to continue growing in my faith amidst the craziness of college.

Elise Helfrich

“My favorite parts of living in Metanoia are the nights we stay up talking until the early hours of the morning having the most deep and authentic conversations. I love getting to know everyone on a level that superficial friendships can’t reach,” said Helfrich.

(Left to right) Eliana Gaytan, Andrew Nguyen, Elise Helfrich, Felisa Sajulga and Reiley Bartel pose for a photo while eating ice cream.
(Left to right) Eliana Gaytan, Andrew Nguyen, Elise Helfrich, Felisa Sajulga and Reiley Bartel pose for a photo while eating ice cream.

Spiritual Sajulga

Sophomore Felisa Sajulga, a psychology major, jumped at the opportunity to be part of Metanoia in its first year back. She wanted to have more Christ-centered friendships that focus on striving to be disciples of Jesus while living out who God designed them to be. 

“My faith plays a tremendous role in my life, especially being an athlete. I’ve sacrificed many things to get to where I am today and I’ve learned to get in touch with my faith to achieve God’s plan for me. My faith is who I am (being a child of God) and being an athlete is a gift that God gave me,” said Sajulga. 

Both Helfrich and Sajulga describe Metanoia as a community of friends who have turned into family.

Sajulga is most grateful for the small moments, like the conversations after night prayer or the random ice cream trips. The most memorable moments however are the late-night conversations where she gets to hear different stories and they get to help each other grow as people. 

Night prayer in Beata Hall.
Night prayer in Beata Hall.

Prayerful Porres

Fellow Metanoia member Isabel Porres, a sophomore majoring in social work and minoring in theology, is glad to have the opportunity to be pushed to better her faith. 

“I am working towards my faith being the most important part of my life. I was born Catholic and received all of my sacraments when kids normally do. My freshman year I felt far away from Christ and I really wanted him to be not only part of my life but also the most important part of it. So, Metanoia came around and that is exactly what happened,” said Porres. 

Porres leads two Bible studies and tries to go to daily Mass if she has no other commitments at noon. As part of Metanoia, she is able to live with people who truly love her.  

Newman University is a place of peace now. I get to see Christ every single day and that is such a blessing. I think I am able to do that because the people I spend my time with, the people I live with, are a reflection of Him.

Isabel Porres
Members of Metanoia pose for a photo at sunset.
Members of Metanoia pose for a photo at sunset.

God-fearing Gaytan

Like Porres, Eliana Gaytan is glad to have the opportunity to be pushed to better her faith. Gaytan is a freshman majoring in philosophy for theological studies and minoring in art. She knew she wanted to be a part of a community that was “soaked to its core with Catholicism.”  

“Living in the community I’ve come to love the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayers said throughout the day and around the world by the Church. I’ve also built friendships with students from a variety of backgrounds pursuing a wide array of majors and participating in a variety of areas on campus,” said Gaytan. 

From prank wars to dance parties, Metanoia community has given Gaytan a home away from home. Gaytan’s faith displays itself in her prayer life, art, and her conversations. Even though her family was not always so deeply-rooted in the Catholic faith, it is now an intricate part of her life. 

Metanoia group photo

Blessed Bartel

Reiley Bartel, a freshman majoring in elementary education, didn’t want to lose her faith when she came to college. The priest from her Catholic high school recommended Metanoia, which she ultimately decided on joining. 

“It has been really great to live with a group of people that have become my family, that have a similar goal in becoming closer to Christ. We do night prayer together every night as well as other activities,” Bartel said. 

“My favorite part about being in this living community is having a group of people who are like me, who we treat as siblings and that keep me honest in my faith life. It isn’t easy to take time to go to Adoration once a week when you are super busy, but they help me make sure I make it a priority, just as one example,” said Bartel.

Metanoia poses for a photo with Emily Simon and Father Adam.

Faithful Father

For Chaplain Father Adam Grelinger, being a part of the Metanoia living community was a big factor in deciding his vocation.

He moved into Metanoia his freshman year because he wanted to live in Beata Hall. He gathered a few of his friends and together they signed up to join. 

“I really found a great group of people who supported me and were really good friends. We certainly prayed together every day and we would go on retreats together. It became a really strong community for me full of great friends that I still have today. And I had a growth in my spiritual life as I really began to pray more and realize the goodness of prayer in my life,” said Grelinger. 

As Grelinger neared graduation he started thinking that information technology, his major at the time, wasn’t what he really wanted to do with his life. That’s when he realized God was calling him to the priesthood.

“I was praying more and was really close with the chaplain. Then I just started thinking maybe it was time to try something different. So after I graduated from Newman and I went to seminary to pursue the possibility of becoming a priest, which ended up being the right calling for me,” said Grelinger. 

Make a gift to support Metanoia

“Please consider supporting the renewal of Metanoia and helping the next generation of Newman students live in a wholesome Christian community.” – Father Adam Grelinger, Newman University chaplain