Iowa bishops are spiritual co-chairs of ISU Catholic center campaign

AMES, Iowa – St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center in Ames has formally launched an endowment campaign to provide permanent support for campus ministry and outreach at Iowa State University. Bishop Walker Nickless, along with Iowa’s other bishops, is providing support as one of the spiritual co-chairs.

The parish and student center includes more than 850 registered families and provides a home for the 8,000 Catholic students at Iowa State University. Campus ministry has struggled to keep pace with the growth, according to Father Jon Seda, pastor since 2009.

To support this effort, St. Thomas Aquinas announced a campaign to increase the Msgr. James A. Supple Endowment to better support campus ministry and outreach efforts. “Catching Souls: Our Catholic Mission” has a total fundraising goal of $5 million; $3 million has already been pledged.

Father Seda identified some of the main reasons why now is the time to conduct this campaign.

“With more than 8,000 Catholic students at ISU, what happens at STA impacts the larger church,” he said. “Last year, we had 17 alumni in seminary for various dioceses and religious orders, including both priests ordained for the Diocese of Sioux City in 2017 – Father Andrew Galles and Father Matthew Solyntjes.”

This year, four FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionaries joined St. Thomas Aquinas thanks to a grant from the Lilly Endowment. FOCUS has more than 600 Catholic campus missionaries on 130 campuses, who invite students to enhance their faith lives.

“The Msgr. Supple Endowment supports about 20 percent of the cost of Catholic campus ministry at ISU,” reported Development Director Joe Leisz. “Msgr. Supple’s vision was that one day our alumni would fully support and endow campus ministry; this campaign will put us closer to realizing that vision.”

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