The local Boston clergy began ministering to Tufts Catholic students in the 1940s, with Paulist Fathers following in the subsequent decades. Catholic alumni may remember our Newman Center on College Avenue as the center of Catholic life. By the 1980’s, however, Mass was celebrated at Goddard Chapel with the Catholic Center on Winthrop Street housing the chaplain’s office and community space. The university purchased this building in the mid aughts and in 2006, it became the Interfaith Center, which marked a new era for multifaith engagement at Tufts.
Reflection and photos from Charlie Schiappas, A’69:
I was also fortunate to discover the Tufts Newman Center, and meet the Catholic Chaplain, Rev. George “Fitz” Fitzgerald, CSP, who was instrumental in creating a space for students to explore and practice their faith. Fitz and many fellow Newmanites became lifelong friends.
As the Class of 1969 gathered in Goddard Chapel on Commencement Sunday I was with some of those Newman friends – unfortunately Fitz had gone on to heaven the year before so was not with us. We were given blue sashes to wear that read “50th Reunion – Class of 1969” and lined up to process behind the Class of 2019 into the Commencement Arena. I had a flash of memory at that moment, and it was 1969, and I was in the Commencement parade looking back toward Goddard and noticed these old people walking under a “Class of 1919” Banner. It was just a fleeting image that then hit me – here we were at one of those poignant moments in our life’s journey – we had had our turn, we had inherited the world those 1919 graduates created – graduates who managed to endure their Flu Pandemic, worked thru the economic and personal rise and fall of the ‘20’s and 30’s, and gave birth to our parents, the generation that saved the world in the Second World War and created the American dream.
I wonder what those 2019 graduates leading the parade thought of us – did they believe we did as good a job as those old-timers? Our intentions were honorable, we wanted to leave them in a better situation, but I’m afraid the world we are handing over to them leaves much work for them to do. Well it’s their turn now – their 50 year journey – I wonder what will run through their minds while marching in their 50th Reunion at Commencement 2069. I hope they have as good a run as we did.
Tufts gave me the gift of an education and a lifelong career. Tufts Newman turned a child’s understanding of Catholicism into a deeper understanding of faith in action. Both are gifts to last a lifetime.