St. Francis of Assisi University Parish breaks ground for the Saban Catholic Student CenterBy Caroline Vincent | 02/02/2016 2:23pm
Shovels stand at the ready for the Saban Catholic Student Center groundbreaking ceremony. CW | Caroline Vincent
On Monday, Feb. 1, St. Francis of Assisi University Parish hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Saban Catholic Student Center.
The event was packed with students and parishioners alike. A small choir sang an opening hymn to begin the ceremony. Bishop Robert Baker from Birmingham then led the congregation in prayer and thanked everyone involved for their support, especially Coach Nick Saban for being such a positive influence on the Catholic community in Tuscaloosa.
Evan Costello, a junior majoring in history, proceeded to read a passage that stressed the importance of laying a solid foundation.
After that, Mike Riley, co-chairman of the project, gave thanks to the supporters of the project, specifically mentioning Saban.
Saban then spoke of his pride for this project and about his and his wife's, Terry Saban, involvement.
“It really pleases us to get involved in a project like this where students who are going to be able to have an opportunity to have a place to gather and socialize, to really think about their faith and be affected by really positive leadership in our community and our church,” he said.
Saban continued his remarks with thanks to the supporters for what they did to make this project come to fruition, and for letting him be involved with it.
“This is going to be something that is going to be a part of our legacy, Terry and I’s legacy, that we’re going to be as proud of as anything we’ll ever accomplish,” he said.
He once again thanked everyone involved with the project by sharing a question he asks the football team often, “Do you pray to be blessed, or do you pray to be a blessing?”
Anthony Berry, a junior majoring in finance, then lead the congregation in a response, and was followed by Baker who said a closing prayer.
“Let us build this student center in the name of God!” Terry Saban said as she and other parish leaders broke ground on the new center.
A reception in the parish social hall followed the ceremony, where people gathered to celebrate with snacks and conversation.
Mary Caillouet, a missionary on campus involved with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), said a new building can help grow the Catholic community.
“Over the course of it being constructed, like, people are passing. People are noticing that something’s happening," she said.
Allie Loomis, the coordinator of Campus Ministry, expressed her hopes for the new student center.
“Ideally we are envisioning a place for students to be able to meet and gather and foster, both in their faith and social lives,” she said.
She said Campus Ministry wants it to be a “place that is known to give us more of a presence on campus and to be a tool in our evangelization of campus as well.”
Barbara Sandlin, president of the Student Leadership Council at St. Francis, also has specific hopes for this project.
“The student center will be a meeting place for a lot of different groups, and a way to just have different events and a better environment,” she said.