Catholic Extension recently announced its list of 2021 Lumen Christi Award nominees, and among them is Chadron State College Newman House Director Amy Graham.
Graham was born and raised in Valentine, and studied music and education at CSC. She initially pursued a career teaching music, but returned to where her heart was, back at her alma mater, determined to make a positive impact and serve at CSC’s Newman Center. She has been the director of the Newman Center ministry for several years now and is currently working on her master’s degree in counseling.
In her director’s role, she serves the Catholic students by offering a ministry of hospitality and accompanying the students in their walk with Christ. The Newman Center, working with St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, offers regular opportunities for the sacraments, Bible studies, retreats and meals. The center is open nearly every day to host students who drop in for coffee or prayer time, and to provide a house where the students can gather to enjoy fellowship, study groups and mentoring.
“I cherish seeing the students come as freshmen and, what seems quite quickly, leave as seniors, having been able to walk with them as they grow spiritually,” said Graham. “I love that we provide a safe place for them to explore their faith and have a home away from home.”
Catholic Extension further stated, “CSC, being a small public university, depends on the ministry of the Newman Center to provide the spiritual formation of its Catholic students. Amy has fully embraced this ministry of providing college students with a connection to their Church. Her programs at the Newman House have given a home to Catholic students in a remote part of the state, creating a setting that relates faith to their life experiences.
“Under Amy’s direction, the students from the Newman Center make an impact beyond campus by serving at the local parish and in ministries run by the Diocese of Grand Island. One community outreach sponsored by the Newman Center is an annual Thanksgiving meal that serves multiple faith communities in town. Its impact is far reaching, and the meal is a celebrated part of the local culture. Amy also leads an annual service opportunity for students during spring break. They serve both in local social ministries, such as the soup kitchen, and travel to the Red Cloud Reservation to serve the Oglala tribe in South Dakota.
Rev. Joseph G. Hanefeldt, bishop of Grand Island, added, “More than simply offering programs … Amy engages the students personally. She connects their faith to their daily challenges by the witness of her own faith and virtue. She has a strong credibility with those who come to the Newman Center because of her consistent witness of faith, her joyful Christian disposition, and her beautiful servant’s heart. Amy is truly the light of Christ in the community of Chadron.”
The Lumen Christi Award is Catholic Extension’s highest honor given to people who radiate and reveal the light of Christ present in the communities where they serve.
Award finalists receive $10,000 to support and enhance their ministry. From among these finalists the Lumen Christi Award recipient will ultimately be selected and given a $25,000 grant, along with an additional $25,000 grant for the nominating diocese.