The remodeling of the USC Caruso Catholic Center on the corner of 32nd and Hoover Streets will benefit Trojans by providing them with a larger and more prominent location in which to worship. The center is being built entirely with non-university funds provided by alumni and friends of the university, keeping the school free of religious affiliation.
Though the money for this addition to USC’s religious life is coming from Trojans’ own pockets, the Catholic Center’s renewal is a worthwhile expenditure. Like any other community center, it will help foster friendships within the Trojan community, will help lonely students overcome feelings of homesickness and will increase participation in community service events.
The European-style church, community center, outdoor courtyard and events plaza will serve as major assets to USC’s Catholic community by encouraging students to intermingle at religious gatherings. By fostering fellowship and nurturing the spiritual life of church participants, as the institution’s mission statement declares, the Catholic Center will provide another location for members of the Trojan Family to get to know one another and to bond over shared ideals.
The decision to remodel the Catholic Center initially sparked minor controversy among non-Catholic members of the Trojan Family, who mistakenly thought the university had sponsored the upgrade. Indeed, a decision by USC administration to use university funds to expand the center would have been unfair and would have required the school to sponsor the construction of other religious centers to remain in compliance with USC’s lack of religious affiliation, valid since its 1880 inclusion in the school charter. According to the center’s website, the expansion of the church, along with the center itself, was funded by “the generosity of alumni, parents, and friends.” As such, the university has no financial stake in its well-being.
The advancement of the Catholic Center’s profile as one of USC’s 57 religious organizations will be especially significant to out-of-state students, religious and non-religious, who might be homesick and feeling out of touch with their spirituality as a result of being so far away from friends and family. Paying a visit to the new Catholic Center, especially with its improved resources and increased emphasis on fellowship, could help students adjust to the dramatic change in environment by making them feel closer to God, to a higher power or to other community members.
The expansion of the Catholic Center will also allow for possible increases in participation in important community service events. According to the center’s website, the center’s Social Justice team puts together and executes philanthropic events and initiatives such as blood drives, Alternative Spring Break, where church members build houses in underprivileged areas, Adopt-A-Family, where donors buy gifts for impoverished families, Relay for Life; the Homeless Ministry; and a book/clothing drive. If more people know about the church’s presence on Hoover Street, attendance in services is likely to increase — and knowledge about these meaningful fundraisers, campaigns and trips will be more widespread.
Lindsay Dale is a freshman majoring in communication.