A home away from home — that’s exactly the atmosphere Sister Rosemarie Maly strives to create for UNK students at the Newman Center.
Sister Maly has begun her fifth year as the director of the UNK Newman Center and her 19th year in full-time campus ministry.
Sister Maly, a vibrant and spirited Benedictine nun of Yankton, S.D., became involved with the Newman Center, because she was drawn by the life and energy of college students. Before she came to UNK, she spent 14 years as director of the Newman Center at the University of South Dakota (USD), in Vermillion.
“I was interested in the dynamics of the kind of ministry I saw happening there,” Sister Maly said. “It was kind of a natural flow from my earlier involvement in youth ministry and vocational ministry.”
Sister Maly was invited to become the director of UNK’s Newman Center in 2006. Though she wasn’t looking for another job, Sister Maly said she felt compelled to look at UNK after 14 years at USD. It seemed like a good time to consider a move.
Sister Maly finds herself well established after four years, but remains aware of opportunities for change and appreciative of the “built-in reality” of her job that prevents her from falling into a permanent pattern.
“With the turnover of students, one of the challenges is having to say goodbye when they graduate, after getting to know them and share in this significant part of their life,” Sister Maly said. “And yet I know that’s a part of what this ministry is all about – getting them ready to move on.”
Nonetheless, Sister Maly believes that with challenge comes reward. As the number of students involved continues to increase, she is excited that so many are able to become a part of the Newman Center community.
“It’s gratifying to see a growing number of students find a home, a community here, by getting involved in the various activities,” she said. “My goal would be that more and more students would experience the Newman Center as a home away from home.”
Though she says her age slows her down at times, her enthusiasm and insight make up the difference. Currently, Sister Maly is giving the students more opportunities to lead. She strongly believes that by forming a partnership between the Newman Center staff and the Newman Student Ministry Council, she will continue making progress toward her overall goal.
Her philosophy is that everyone should have his or her own place in the community.
“We need students to know that the UNK Newman Center is not only for the residents,” Sister Maly said. “It’s for all students at UNK.”