On Thursday morning, Sept. 24, His Holiness Pope Francis made an historic address to the United States Congress. The pontiff spoke about the ideals that make this country great but also called on people of all walks of life to “build a better future.”
On Sept. 18, a group of Newman University students, alumni, staff, faculty and friends found a way to live this idea and show their support for the disadvantaged by joining in the Habitat for Humanity “Pope Francis Build.” The group swung hammers, sawed lumber, helped construct walls and more from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., helping to build two homes for two Wichita families headed by working single mothers.
The Habitat for Humanity project is dedicated to Pope Francis and broke ground on Aug. 27. Newman’s volunteer workers included professors, administrators, alumni, faculty, staff family members, and students of various years and ages.
Senior Student Government Association President Brandon Gollhofer, who helped with the build, said “I think dedicating the build in the name of Pope Francis was very fitting, and it was a great experience for all involved.”
“This was truly a total Newman University community event,” said Rosemary Niedens, associate vice president of academic affairs, who also worked at the build.
Niedens said the Newman community answered the call along with the greater Wichita Catholic community. An anonymous donor gave $60,000 to Wichita Habitat for Humanity and challenged the Catholic community of Wichita to build a home in honor of Pope Francis, Niedens said. However, by pulling together and answering the call, they were able to build two homes.
In his address to Congress, Pope Francis took the opportunity to dialogue “with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and – one step at a time – to build a better life for their families.”
Niedens said that both of the hardworking, single mothers who will occupy the houses exemplify the type of person Pope Francis was addressing when he said, “These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society.”
“It’s inspiring to see how hard people will work to sacrifice themselves for the good of their families,” Niedens said.
She added that the build was a great way to honor the ideals of Pope Francis and to promote his ideas in our Wichita community.
“Habitat for Humanity is a program that helps build families.”
The following people associated with Newman University took part in the Habitat for Humanity Pope Francis Build:
For more information on the build and Newman’s involvement, click here. To see photos of the build and other Newman events follow Newman University Flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/newmanuniversity. To get involved with Wichita’s Habitat for Humanity visit www.wichitahabitat.org.
This article has been updated from a previous article published Sept. 18, 2015.