New Catholic order to arrive at Newman Center

The Christian Life Movement plans to adjust to its new role before considering any changes

· December 3, 2013, 8:27 pm   ·  Updated December 3, 2013, 9:53 pm

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The new leadership of Penn’s Newman Center aims to create a harmonious relationship between the center and the local West Philadelphia Community, by getting students to volunteer to work with the underprivileged and poor living in the neighborhood.


A conservative youth-oriented leadership group aims to make the Penn Newman Center a hub for Christian dialogue when it assumes leadership of the center next summer.

The Christian Life Movement, which will start directing the Newman Center on July 1, 2014, is new to not only Penn but to the state of Pennsylvania and will adjust to its new role before considering any changes. The Catholic order is an “ecclesial movement that has an emphasis in the evangelization of culture, young people, the poor, families and the promotion of life,” said religious brother and CLM member Brian Shannon.

Shannon, who is currently in Colorado, will be the supervisor of the priest and four consecrated laymen who will assume leadership of the parish and the center. Although this is the first time in 100 years that the center will be led by a group, as opposed to one individual priest, the archdiocese did not specify a reason for the change in leadership.

Related: A new ministry to lead Penn Newman Center

The CLM is known for being a more conservative order of Catholicism, while Penn — like most of its peer schools schools — tends to lean more liberal. When asked about the possible conflicts that may arise from differing ideologies, Shannon challenged the notion of true liberalism. “If [one] is truly liberal, he should welcome all decisions,” Shannon said. “It actually defeats the purpose of defining yourself as liberal if you’re closed off to ideas you don’t like.”

“The church’s ideas shouldn’t be a threat,” he continued. “Not allowing someone to speak about their decision … is that a true community that seeks knowledge?” He felt confident that there would be a harmonious relationship between the CLM and the greater Penn community. Shannon also discussed plans of developing “fruitful dialogue” with professors and making the Newman Center “a center for philosophy.”

Shannon said he is interested in working with the neighborhood around the church and reaching out to the community that housed the parish. He said he hopes the center will get students more involved in working with underprivileged and poor members of the West Philadelphia community.

Related: Newman Center launches Catholic video series

“We try to help students integrate solidarity into their lives and professions, so that when they graduate they will always have that desire,” Shannon said.

When asked about his plans for interfaith discussion, Shannon stressed the ministry’s primary responsibility to other Catholics. “There are issues that affect humanity that concern all of us, and I think in those areas … we can work together,” Shannon said. “But of course, there’s going to be a priority to minister to Catholics because that’s what has been entrusted to us.”

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