Holy Spirit Parish Newman Center

The Catholic presence at the University of Kentucky

1914 - The Catholic Club

The “Catholic Club” began religious services for students at the University of Kentucky in 1914 at the instigation of Professor Margie McLaughlin, chairperson of UK’s Department of Journalism. Over time, with the spiritual leadership of Fathers Punch and Cline, the Club met at St. Peter Church in downtown Lexington. Associate pastors from two different parishes served students sporadically until August 1949 when Fr. James Herlihy, an assistant at Christ The King Parish, became the first full-time chaplain of the “Newman Club.” In 1959 four far-sighted laymen arranged the purchase of the present Newman Center site on Rose Lane.

1963 - Fr. Elmer Moore

So when Fr. Elmer Moore, the founder of the modern Newman Center, came to Lexington as the next full time chaplain late in the summer of 1959, he was confronted with a pre-fabricated chapel and a deteriorated, absolutely empty house – devoid of furniture or other accommodations. In May of 1963, Fr. Moore succeeded in convincing Bishop Ackerman of the Diocese of Covington to have Holy Spirit Parish established as a ‘personal parish.’ Fr. Moore was then named Administrator of this new ‘personal parish model’ which became the prototype for similar establishments at other universities.

1969 - Fr. Larry Hehman

In 1969, an independent corporation, Newman Center, Inc., was established for the purpose of funding the development of the substantial facility we now enjoy. Thus in the thirteen years from 1959 to October 1972, the Newman movement at our University was transformed from Sunday services in a small, rented former storefront to a wide range of activities in a modern facility.

Fr. Moore was succeeded by Fr. Lawrence Hehman who became the next pastor of Holy Spirit Parish. With the cooperation of UK faculty, staff and students, Fr. Hehman expanded the scope and scale of the Newman Apostolate considerably as well as activities at the Center.

1988 - Fr. Dan Noll

In 1988, Fr. Dan Noll became pastor and chaplain to the approximately 5,000 Catholic students at UK. Fr. Noll was particularly noted for his close rapport with students and his intense involvement with them and their concerns. In 1990, he also oversaw and helped manage a major fund campaign involving the Newman Center parish and Newman Center, Inc. to upgrade, repair and expand the 1972 facility.

1997 - Fr. Tom Farrell

In 1997, Fr. Tom Farrell became pastor of our Catholic Newman Center / Holy Spirit Parish. Fr. Farrell came as a servant-leader helping to create and foster various ministerial roles. He also launched a funding campaign for Campus Ministry and Student Leadership Programs. Finally, peace and justice activities of our parishioners including BUILD (Building United Interfaith Lexington through Direct-action) and Habitat for Humanity were both supported and encouraged by Fr. Farrell.

2009 - Fr. Al DeGiacomo 

In 2009, leadership was transferred to Fr. Al DeGiacomo, who served for 6 years as pastor of the parish.

2015 - Fr. Steve Roberts

Fr. Steve Roberts, who served as associate pastor under Fr. DeGiacomo, was appointed by Bishop John Stowe as pastor of Holy Spirit.