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Parishioners speak out about new leadership at Ohio State's Catholic student ministry

The building for the St. Thomas More Newman Center, the Roman Catholic campus ministry for Ohio State University.
St. Thomas More Newman Center

The priests who have run the Catholic ministry at Ohio State University for 66 years will no longer be leading the church.

Many parishioners call the decision heartbreaking.

“I'm finding it hard to articulate because it is so confusing. I mean, this is the place where I go to worship, where every seat is full and people are genuinely happy to be there and it's financially viable and a very active parish, “ said Michele Mooney, a long-time parishioner.

The New Bishop of the Diocese of Columbus Earl Fernandes was just appointed at the end of May, but has informed the Paulist Fathers that they will longer be in charge of the ministry at the St. Thomas More Newman Center at OSU. Mooney, who has worshipped at Newman for two decades, is among those who are devastated. She calls the move political.

"The students are home for summer break and are missing this, and I feel that this has been very calculated, to make this decision while they're not on campus", she said.

Mooney believes the changes will be the start of the return to more traditional Catholic practices and a move away from the more modern Catholicism now being taught by the Paulist Fathers.

“That is another reason why I love going to mass there. You see these young people, 18 to 24-year-old people that, you know, this is a home for them, a community of support to them, and in a time when there's so much confusion in the world, this is a place where they can be part of a community. it really saddens me and it angers me at the same time,“ said Mooney.

WOSU reached out to the Diocese of Columbus but did not receive a response.

Williams joined the WOSU newsroom from the WLKY-TV in Louisville, KY, where she was a reporter. Natasha is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and has more than 20 years of television news and radio experience. Contact Natasha at natasha.williams@wosu.org.