Don't be surprised if you see or hear ghosts this afternoon and evening on the Newman University campus. Over the years, incidents have occurred that some think are caused by the spirits of former faculty, staff, students and others associated with the university and its predecessor institutions Kansas Newman College, Sacred Heart College and Sacred Heart Junior College.
Several involve Beata Netemeyer, ASC, former provincial for the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Wichita and founder of Sacred Heart Junior College. A building named for Mother Beata once stood on the Newman campus (not the current Beata Hall student residence building). Several decades ago a staff person was working late in a different building with her young daughter, and realized she needed some materials in Beata Hall. The staffer gave her daughter keys to the locked building and sent her to retrieve the items. When the daughter returned, she told her mother she had seen a nun inside Beata Hall dressed in the full, old-style habit the ASC sisters wore in the early 20th century. The sister had a large ring of keys and was going door-to-door testing keys in the locks. The mother and daughter were mystified as to who it could have been and how she got into the building until years later, when the daughter came to Newman as a student, saw a photo of Mother Beata, and identified her as the nun she had seen that night testing the locks.
Other former college employees reported on an incident that occurred on the day the old Beata Hall was formally being closed and prepared for demolition. During a ceremony to "de-commision" the building, as various university officials were making speeches, the double glass doors that were the main entrance to the building opened, stood motionless for several seconds, then closed. Several people on the scene believed it to be the spirit of Mother Beata leaving the building.
Others have made comments over the years about a portrait of Mother Beata that originally hung in Beata Hall and is now in the President's Conference Room in Sacred Heart Hall. Many have said that the eyes in the photo follow viewers about the room, and that, depending on the activity of any given day, Mother Beata's countenance ranges from serious to almost smiling.
Other stories pertain to strange, unexplained sounds in Sacred Heart Hall. The area on the third floor that now houses the Hangar and related student tutoring was once a dormitory for female students. The students reported that, during the night, they would hear a door open, followed by footsteps across the room, followed by the sound of another door to the room closing. Determined to find out who, or what, the nocturnal intruder was, the girls agreed to station one student near the door, who would turn on the light switch when she heard the door open to reveal their uninvited guest. That night, the students heard the door open, the footsteps, and the other door close, but the room remained pitch dark - because the student charged with turning on the light said she had been unable to move.
The room was later blessed by a priest, and no further intrusions occurred.
Many other ghost stories abound, including one involving a child who had passed away and was later seen on campus and heard playing and laughing in the gymnasium inside De Mattias Hall, another campus building that has been since demolished. Still other stories concern sounds, lights and other activity in the area of Sacred Heart Hall that once served as a dormitory for ASC sisters. In every case, the ghosts or spirits are universally benign, and no one has been injured.
"I think the sisters who started and operated this institution in the early years were so totally committed to the university, that their positive energy lingers here," said Newman unofficial ghost historian and Associate Vice President of Academic Services and Student Development Rosemary Niedens. "I hope it always will."
Do you have a story of ghosts or spirits at Newman University? If so - or if you encounter one tonight - tell us about it in the Comments section below, and contact Niedens at 316-942-4291, ext. 2137, or firstname.lastname@example.org.