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As Sue Paterno walked into the new Suzanne Pohland Paterno Catholic Student Faith Center, she was joined by hundreds of the students and adults who now have a new home.
At 10 a.m. Saturday morning, the center was opened and initiated its first Mass, with Paterno sitting in the first row surrounded by family and other close friends.
Though weekend masses will still be held inside the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center to hold the number of occupants who visit, Sue Paterno said she considers the Catholic community as a family that is “always growing.”
Paterno also said she believed Father Matthew Laffey deserved much of the credit for making the Catholic student center possible.
“He was the person that kept us on track and kept us driving,” said Paterno. “He has, without a doubt, poured himself into it.”
Bishop Mark Bartchak for the Diocese of the Altoona-Johnstown area, praised Paterno and displayed his gratitude of the faith center by comparing it to the traditional rhyme of “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.”
“The students may not always remember the silver sixpence in the shoe, but when they look around, they will discover and rediscover their Catholic faith, which is ever old and ever new, and they will notice what is borrowed and what is blue,” Bartchak said. “They will realize that it represents what really defines them as a human being.”
Bartchak said he is most grateful to all who contributed to the cause and those who will continue to contribute, especially for the endowment that is needed to make the center the spiritual home for the Penn State Catholic student family.
He said to Paterno that he not only recognizes her and all that she had done to get to the opening of the center, but the future of the building and its role it will play for future students.
After the service, Jay Paterno, son of the late head football coach Joe Paterno, said he had been waiting a long time to finally see the Catholic student center opened.
“I remember my parents talking about it when I was a kid,” Jay Paterno said. “The Catholic faith has always played an immense role in the life of my family, and now it can be an integral part of the Penn State Catholic student community, as well.”
Both Joe and Sue Paterno helped to raise money for the $6.5 million center, which features the Holy Family Chapel, meeting rooms and a cafeteria. The center is a location in which students can attend to pray in the chapel, read in the library or hold meetings.
The center was blessed in Aug. 2011 with relics, along with other items, placed within the new building. The cornerstone and steeple blessing ceremony was held in the chapel of the unfinished center.
Daniel Jacobs (sophomore-division of undergraduate studies) was one of the first students who attended the service on Saturday, and said he believes the center opened up many opportunities for Catholic students.
“With all the opportunities presented for us at the center,” he said, “I am truly grateful for the facility the Paterno family helped provide for the Catholic students here at Penn State.”