Catholic students at UNI have studied and witnessed to their faith for over 100 years (1897-present). The Catholic Student Center is the oldest and the largest UNI student organization on campus.
Anna E. McGovern is credited with organizing the first group of Catholic students. The first students took part in weekly study groups and fellowship activities. What is now St. Stephen the Witness Catholic Student Center has gone through many name changes. In the early years, the student center was known as the Newman Catholic association and was affiliated with the Catholic Student's Association of America. In 1917, it took the name Catholic Student's Association in order to conform with the national organization. Throughout the 1940's until 1966, the name Newman Club was used although it was noted it is not a club. In 1966, the student center took the name St. Stephen the Witness Catholic Student Center.
Early students did not have an on-campus student center. These students walked from campus in groups to Mass at St. Patrick's Parish in downtown Cedar Falls. In 1909, a car was chartered for students to go to church on Wednesday mornings at 5:40.
The Student center gained a presence on campus when it took over a two-story house on the southeast corner of College and 23rd streets in 1948. This chapel seated 150 people. There was a library separated from the chapel by a folding door which held an additional 20 people. The groundbreaking and the laying of the cornerstone at the current location took place in 1990. The dedication and first Mass took place in 1991. The dedication began at the old location with a procession to the new location followed by Mass.
This chapel holds 450 people. Our tabernacle is off to the side of the chapel for a few reasons. Because you can see onto the campus as you look at the tabernacle from in the chapel, one of the reasons is to be a reminder that wherever you go, Christ goes with you.
Throughout the years, faculty, alumni, benefactors, parents, Knights of Columbus chapters, St. Patrick's Parish in Cedar Falls, the Archdiocese of Dubuque and many friends have contributed to the ongoing work of the Catholic Student Center in many selfless ways. To our founders and many benefactors, we offer our heartfelt thanks and prayers.
Fr. Luke Donlon, St. Patrick's, 1901-1904
Fr. John C. Wieneke, St. Patrick's, 1914-1932
Monsignor Stephen Mauer, St. Patrick's, 1938-1952
Fr. William C. Michael, St. Patrick's, 1947-1950
Fr. Robert J. Spahn, Resident Chaplin, 1951-1956
Fr. John Gregory, 1956-1968
Fr. Jack Kissling, 1968-1983
Fr. Bob Beck, 1972-1974
Fr. Don Klein, 1983-1993
Fr. John Haugen, 1993-2003
Fr. Mark Ressler, 2003-2004
Sr. Mary Lou Specha, 2004-2008
Fr. Ken Glaser, 2008-2016
Fr. Nick March, 2016-2017
Dr. Biff Rocha, 2017-present