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Sue Paterno Looking Forward to Catholic Center's Dedication on Saturday

by on September 05, 2012 1:55 PM

Sue Paterno's vision for a Penn State Catholic Student Center is finally becoming reality.

The Suzanne Pohland Paterno Catholic Student Faith Center will be dedicated during a ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

She told StateCollege.com on Wednesday that it's the first time she'll be at a dedication for a church.

"I'm excited, I'm thrilled, it is beautiful and what an addition to our community," Paterno said.

While weekend masses will still be held inside the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center to accommodate the number of people who attend, Paterno said she sees the Catholic community as a family that is always growing. The center is a place students can go whether it's to meditate in the chapel, read in the library or hold meetings.

"It's extremely important (to have). I have noticed kids move away from their faith ... there's been resurgence. More and more students are participating in not just mass, but other activities also.

"I really pushed it for a long time," she said.

The center has been a project long in the works. Even before the groundbreaking ceremony was held in May 2010, much work had to be done to get final approval so the vision could be put into motion.

"It's a group project, a lot of people worked on it," Paterno said.

Now, Paterno said she can't wait to see the students using the center. Groups such as Project Haiti and Mission Mexico – Paterno called them 'fantastic' – will be able to utilize everything from the all-purpose room – complete with a kitchen – to the smaller meeting rooms and more.

Paterno said the antique 'Stations of the Cross' might be her favorite part.

Father Matthew Laffey, Director of the Catholic Campus Ministry at Penn State, found the glass mosaic that will forever hang in the chapel at a church in Homestead, Pa., that had since closed down. The unique piece is more than 100 years old, she said.

Some of the stained glass windows were also purchased from closed-down churches. Paterno said one in particular was made in Florida, special to the center.

"The stained glass window depicts three Penn State students and Old Main in the background. It designates that that is a student center, particularly a Penn State Catholic student center," she said.

"I want this to be a Penn State center and also be a family for students who are away from their families."

The name the Latrobe, Pa., native chose for the chapel won't be revealed until the dedication on Saturday, when parts of the center that have not been blessed, such as the steeple and the tabernacle, will be blessed by Bishop Mark Bartchak and the chapel will be declared officially open for mass.

On Saturday, Paterno will be surrounded by her children and grandchildren – "and there's a lot of them," she said.

Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno's widow shared the experience of bringing a Catholic student center to fruition with her husband until his death in January.

"My only regret is the person who shared the vision with me won't be there," she said.



Laura Nichols is a StateCollege.com news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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