In keeping with our mission to form the future leaders of our Church and world, the Newman Center uses a system of student leadership called “Peer Ministry”.
Each year, 4-6 students are selected from a pool of applicants to work side by side with the staff in running the ministry. Housed in an apartment with individual rooms above the Newman Center, the Peer Ministers learn to balance school, ministry, and their personal lives in service to their fellow students. It’s a demanding year of sacrifice, but an extremely rewarding experience. In the end, peer ministers and the Student Ministry Team are responsible for the majority of the programming, innovation, and activity of the ministry. At any given time during the day, chances are you’ll find a peer minister roaming the halls, hanging out at the Newman table on campus, serving a Mass, or hosting an event at Newman.
Inspired by the success of former Newman Director Fr. William Dean Dooley OP (1948-1960) to use Catholic soldiers to catechize other soldiers during WWII, the program trains students to minister to each other. After a week of intensive training at the Dominican Institute of Student Ministry, peer ministers become Newman’s primary student leaders. They’re responsible for everything from planning the massive SEARCH retreat to cleaning the bathrooms!
Often times, students have a unique credibility with each other that community members, staff, parents, and even priests, don’t have. By training students to fill positions of leadership in the ministry, they’re given greater opportunity to relate to their peers and more effectively support them through the faith transitions common to college life. This ultimately leads newer students to realize that they should take their faith seriously, that there are other students out their struggling with the same things, and that there are answers to their most intimate and troubling questions. And that you can be Catholic and cool at the same time!
Since 1989, Peer Ministers have been some of the greatest advocates of the ministry, and each has left a profound impact on the lives of the students – not to mention the ministry as a whole. We continually thank all that have served. But as any peer minister will tell you, their gifts to the community are matched, if not surpassed, by the gratitude they feel for the transformative opportunity to serve their fellow Catholic Huskies.
Our Peer Ministers
Clare is a senior at UW this year studying Accounting and minoring in French (subjects which she loves dearly), but her greatest passion in life is ministry! Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Clare and her family moved to Olympia, Washington in 2002. She has visited 40 states and 6 Canadian provinces, many of which she traveled through on one of her seven road trips back to Maryland. Last summer, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Ireland, which sparked an incredible love for travel. She plans to visit all 7 continents (yes, even Antarctica!) within the next decade or so. Her most recent travel plans are to hike a portion of the Camino de Santiago after graduation next summer with two of her greatest friends from Newman.
To say that the Newman Center has transformed Clare’s life would be an understatement. Her involvement at the Newman Center began soon after she attended the life-changing SEARCH Retreat in the winter of her freshman year. After she experienced God’s love in this community, there was no turning back. She has been a member of the Liturgy Committee, Veritas Planning Team, Undergraduate Women’s Ministry, and was even confirmed at the Newman Center two years ago! In her unbiased opinion, Newman is the greatest place in Seattle, and probably the entire state of Washington.
Besides ministry and Jesus, the things that bring her the greatest joy in life are copious amounts of coffee, sports, organizing anything and everything, budgets, reading, rap, and creating the perfect Spotify playlist. She has a special appreciation for sass and sarcasm, and can oftentimes be found singing the entire soundtrack of Hamilton (AKA the greatest musical that’s ever been created).
Clare hopes to one day receive her Master’s in Theology. She firmly believes that God is calling all of us to greatness and to be active disciples in our world, and is particularly inspired by the lives of female saints such as St. Edith Stein, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Teresa of Avila, and her patroness St. Joan of Arc.
Derek is a third year student currently studying Community, Environment, and Planning, along with a minor in French. Derek grew up about 40 minutes south of Seattle in Auburn, Washington, and graduated from Auburn High School in 2014. Derek has one older brother and one older sister, along with one cat and one incredibly cute and adorable doggo.
During his time at the University of Washington, Derek has been on the UWashington Formula Motorsports team, a mentor in the University of Washington Dream Project, a Freshman Group leader at the Newman Center, a cashier at Whole Foods Market, and now, a Peer Minister.
For fun, he likes to play tennis badly, fly kites, play frisbee, go on the occasional hike, play board games, watch UW and Seahawks football, and play with dogs. This last summer, Derek traveled across the Atlantic Ocean, where he spent four days in Paris, three days in Munich, a week in Prague, and three weeks in Poland with the Newman Center World Youth Day delegation.
Derek especially likes Saint John Paul II for his devotion to his vocation and his love for inter-religious dialogue. During his time in Poland, Derek was blessed to travel to Wadowice, the hometown of Saint John Paul II.
Derek moved into the Newman Center on September 1st, and has loved every moment spent in the Newman Center since.
Gizelle Gando, a native Seattleite, grew up in South Seattle on Beacon Hill. She is cradle Catholic and grew up going to St. Peter Parish every Sunday with her family. Her family consists of her parents, one younger brother, and her uncle. She attended school in the Seattle Public School District but attended Sunday school. It was not until she came to the University of Washington Catholic Newman Center that she found a community of Catholic students that helped strengthened her faith. Her first year at UW she attended freshmen group, where she connected with other freshmen and are friends with them to this day. The last two years she has been on the Student Ministry Team (SMT) and has worked with the Multicultural group to provide ways for people to express their culture and beliefs together. With Multicultural she has helped host Spanish Mass, Simbang Gabi, and a few other events.
Gizelle is in her 4th year of studies at the University of Washington. She enjoys swimming and going on adventures. She can be very awkward at times, but she is someone always willing to listen and grab bubble tea with.
Peter Simon is entering his senior year studying Sociology. He entered as a pre-med biology major, but after actively discerning his vocation he decided against medical school but rather decided to become a PA (Physician Assistant). Peter Simon is a strong advocator of the importance of mental health issues having personally struggled with several himself. Currently, Peter feels called to provide Catholic witness to the medical field with a focus on helping others like him in the psychiatric aspect of medicine. He chose to become a PA because of the flexibility within the field, "family-friendly" hours, and the fact that the program is only two years as compared to eleven. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Peter Simon was born and raised in the suburbs of southern California in what is known as the largest county (by area) in the United States, San Bernardino. Having grown up surrounded by deserts, excessive heat, and the LA smog, he was excited to come up to Seattle for his undergraduate studies. Having only lived here for three years, Peter Simon has accumulated over 35 scarves having started with zero. He is somewhat obsessed.
Peter Simon, as his name implies, has two first names thanks to his Filipino heritage. He actually never goes by Peter Simon but rather uses it as a conversation starter. His full name is Peter Simon “St. Rose” Bas Molina, which includes his confirmation saint, St. Rose of Lima. If given the chance, he will rave to you about how he thinks it’s adorable that his confirmation saint is St. Rose and his beautiful girlfriend, Rosemarie, chose her confirmation saint to be St. Peter. Isn’t that precious.
Peter is literally so excited to help the UW Newman Center this academic year. He hopes to share his experiences and, by his life and his loud nature, hopes to encourage his peers to develop a genuine relationship with God and to make disciples of their own. He’s a bit too optimistic, but in the best way possible.
Asia was born in Kirkland, WA and was raised in Las Vegas, NV. Her father is in the Air Force and met her mother in the Philippines. Her older brother, mother, and father moved around and after Asia was born, settled in Las Vegas, NV.
Asia graduated from Northwest Career and Technical Academy High School in North Las Vegas with the major Engineering and Design. She knew as early as her freshman year of high school that she wanted to study Aeronautical Engineering. Now in her third year of college at the University of Washington, she is beginning her first year of the core classes in the William E. Boeing Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering Department.
Her mother taught Confirmation class at her local parish, Our Lady of the Skies at Nellis AFB. After her confirmation, she was given the opportunity to teach her mother’s class. Since her sophomore year of high school, she taught Confirmation for 3 years. Alongside, she participated in the youth group at the church, and later became president for 2 years. The youth group worked very hard every year to raise money and attend 2 World Youth Days that were held in Madrid, Spain and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She attended both, and prior to Madrid, Spain, attended the World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia.
After her first year at the UW, she fell in love with the Newman Center and became a Freshman Group Leader the year after. She met so many inspirational people within the Student Ministry Team. Aside from ministry, she loves drawing, traveling, and watching all things horror or anything with Leonardo DiCaprio. (:
She is excited to meet and serve all the newcomers to the Newman Center!
Tim Prusa is junior majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington. He was born in Seattle to two parents from large Catholic families from the Midwest and is the oldest of two boys. He attended Catholic grade school and high school in Seattle growing up and now feels incredibly fortunate to be able to attend school and deepen his faith in such a wonderful community so close to home.
When not ministering to his peers or studying, you can find Tim out and about on campus trying to learn a little bit about everything. During his time at UW he has been involved with numerous clubs in the College of Engineering, welcomed new students to campus with UW First Year Programs, and has even tried writing for the UW school newspaper The Daily. Some of his various pastimes include cooking, playing team sports, trying to be an informed voter, and keeping his fellow Peer Ministers on their toes with an inconsistent taste in music. When he grows up he hopes to find work that meaningfully improves the lives of others and allows him to stay curious about the world around him.