The growth of the Catholic student community has been intertwined with the growth of the University of California at Riverside (UCR) since its opening in 1954. The Newman Center was established under the direction of Fr. Waldo, O.S.B. and Dr. Paul Desjardins, the first faculty advisor. Watkins House at 3701 Canyon Crest Drive served as a meeting place for the Catholic student community of UCR. Watkins House was an inter-faith facility that served students of various Christian denominations and Jewish students. During the 1950's, the Newman Club was supported by local parishes in Riverside, such as St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Francis de Sales. Members of the Riverside community often took students to Mass. The Catholic student community at UCR participated actively in events sponsored by Watkins House, such as Thanksgiving dinners and summer camps for Riverside children.
Between 1967 and 1971 Franciscans Fathers. Patrick O'connor, Theodore Herzberg and Leo Sprietsma provided leadership to the growing community. The Friars of the Western Dominican Province began ministering here with the arrival of Fathers Gregory Anderson and Bruno Gibson in 1972. The University Religious Center gave Watkins House to the University as a gift. The Newman Center found a new home in the University Village Shopping Center at Watkins Drive and West Big Springs Road.
By the 1980's, the shopping center could no longer accommodate the growing Catholic student community at UCR and RCC; it became necessary to find a permanent location for the Newman Center. The announcement of plans to build the St. Andrew's Newman Center was made on January 27, 1985, during a reception for the 25th anniversary of the Newman Center. The site chosen for the new St. Andrew's Newman Center was the lot adjacent to the shopping center. An outpouring of support from UCR, the Diocese of San Bernardino and the Riverside community went into the construction of the Newman Center. The St. Andrew's Newman Center was dedicated on October 21, 1989. The celebrant at the dedication was Philip F. Straling, Bishop of San Bernardino, Fathers John Flannery, O.P., Jude Eli, O.P. and Michael Harnett, O.P. concelebrated.
On December 11, 2016, the Dominican Province announced with heavy hearts that they were returning the management of Saint Andrew's Newman Center at the University of California Riverside to San Bernardino Diocese. This became effective June 30, 2017.
On the 1st of July 2017, Fr. Cyriacus Ogu and Fr. Alwyn Anfone arrived from the Diocese of San Bernardino to continue the ministry at the Newman Center and on-campus. It is good to note that this vocation scarcity and sustainability necessitated the exit of the Dominican priests not only from our diocese but also from few other known dioceses like San Diego and Los Angeles. The new priests have been assiduously working with the community to live in full; the Newman Center spirit as was modeled by St. Henry John Cardinal Newman. New sorority and fraternity were formed from within the CSF. Doctrinal/Bible Study program is now in place for our inquisitive students. Our RCIA Team is enlarged and diverse so as to take care of more students in their diverse needs as they make their faith journey. Graduate students have their place in the new scheme of things and their bible study is ongoing as well. Greater students’ participation in liturgical ministries and synergistic community programs are on the increase. We are witnessing more community members stepping up to ministries and happily donating their times, talents and resources towards the building up of the Newman spirit which remains the number priority of our campus ministry.
WHO ARE WE
St. Andrew's Newman Center is a campus ministry that complements the secular education provided at University of California at Riverside and Riverside City College. We provide a home for the students, members of the university and college communities, and others who choose to join in our mission.
WHAT WE DO
Our mission is to strengthen the faith of these groups and develop their gifts so that they may grow into passionate, faithful disciples of Christ and leaders of the Catholic Church.
HOW WE DO IT
We are a place of welcome, a worshipping community, a place of generous hospitality, and a resource for those seeking to learn about Scripture, the sacraments and Catholic tradition. We are a place where we reach out to others with love and an informed sense of justice.