In 1929, when Louisiana State University moved its campus from downtown to its current location, the administration offered temporary space for its Catholic students to congregate. Chaplain, Father Maurice Schexnayder, celebrated Mass at the Dodson Auditorium on Sundays for one-third of the student population.  

In 1935, he established the Newman Club, a Catholic student organization named for John Henry Cardinal Newman. It was Cardinal Newman’s belief that a university education without God was an incomplete education. The Newman Club movement was first organized in the United States in 1915 and gained traction across the nation with the support of the Catholic bishops of the United States.  

The LSU club was established in 1935 with another club at Southern University to follow several years later. Father Schexnayder quickly saw a need for a Catholic student center and began raising funds and awareness for this project. By 1939 the cornerstone was laid for Christ the King Catholic Student Center and was dedicated one year later. In 1966 a full time chaplain, Father Rawlin B. Enette SSJ, was assigned to Southern University and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Catholic Student Center was dedicated in 1970.  

At LSU, all Catholic students received automatic membership to the Newman Club, but to be considered in “good standing” they paid a membership fee of $2 per semester. Their activities ranged from parties and suppers, retreats, to religious study groups and community activism. The Newman club also had intramural sports teams and a popular radio program, the Catholic Student Forum.  

Boltin is the director of the Archives Department for the Diocese of Baton Rouge  

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LSU’s Newman Club held several planned activities throughout the year including this “All Hallows’ Eve” party from the 1950s where students dressed as their favorite saints. Photo provided by the Archives Department of the Diocese of Baton Rouge