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Brown RISD Catholic Community to open new community center

New building on Prospect Street to host community gatherings, worship services

The Brown RISD-Catholic Community is opening a new community center on Prospect Street, a space which BRCC hopes will become a new hub for Catholic life on campus. 

The building was acquired last January as a part of BRCC’s Build Together Capital Campaign, which raised nearly $3.5 million in its first phase alone, according to the BRCC website. The BRCC has used these funds to purchase and renovate the residential house at 51 Prospect Street that will become the new community center.

“In total, roughly 250 people have contributed to this campaign. So it has truly been a community effort, with alumni contributing who graduated as far back as the 1940s,” Campus Minister for BRCC Megan O’Brien Crayne wrote in an email to The Herald. BRCC hopes to complete work on the building this summer and convert the garage into a “small, permanent chapel.”

“It seems that having a dedicated Catholic Center at Brown/RISD has been something that students have been talking about for decades — something they were very much interested in but didn’t think was possible,” she added.

While COVID-19 restrictions have prevented the community from hosting any large gatherings or grand opening ceremonies thus far, BRCC leadership is hopeful that these events will be possible in the fall.

“We hope to host Catholic speakers, gather for Bible studies, hold book discussion groups, do a fish fry during Lent, barbecue outside on the grill and talk around the firepit,” Father Edmund McCollough, chaplain for BRCC, wrote in an email to The Herald.

“Our goal for the Center is for it to be both Catholic and catholic. It will be explicitly and intentionally Catholic, a place where Catholic students will be able to gather in prayer and fellowship on a campus where it can be hard to be a religious student,” O’Brien Crayne wrote. “At the same time, we want the Center to be catholic, from the Greek katholikos, which means universal — a place where those of all backgrounds feel welcome to study, pray and explore.” 

The new center will act as a supplement to existing BRCC community spaces, including the Manning Chapel, where the community currently holds weekly Mass, and administrative offices in Page-Robinson Hall.

“I can’t think of another place on campus that combines all the best aspects of a chapel, dining hall, library and dorm lounge into one space,” David Keenan ’22, BRCC hospitality coordinator, wrote in an email to The Herald. The space “will allow our community to grow and thrive in faith and fellowship for years to come.”

“Rather than being scattered around campus for various activities, we now have one place our community members can come whether they’re looking for prayer, fellowship or both, something that was not possible without the center,” Keenan wrote.

“I’m most looking forward to having a place where our entire community can come to enjoy everything the BRCC has to offer right when they want or need it,” he added.

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