For senior Jonathan Bading, it’s no surprise that the Catholic community is being built up around the Eucharist. Bading is a music performance major from Chantilly, Virginia, who serves on the leadership board of the Hope Catholics student group. “You can’t have a strong Catholic community without being connected to the Mass,” he said. “We often speak about the Mass and the celebration of the Eucharist as the source and summit of the faith, so when you have a community removed from that central element, it’s very difficult to be in communion with each other.”
“At its most basic,” said Father Nick, “my goal is to provide a regular sacramental presence and be someone students can talk to to develop their faith.”
Gomez is one of several students who meets regularly with Fr. Nick. “He’s very willing to listen without making judgments and always makes sure I’m comfortable to say what I want to say,” she said.
“I’m very happy to have someone who can relate to students, someone who’s younger and energetic and lively,” said Catherine Coddington, a senior from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and treasurer of Hope Catholics.
Although he’s relatively young (Fr. Nick is 34 years old and was ordained a Dominican priest in 2013), he has plenty of academic, spiritual and practical experience under his cincture. Fr. Nick received master’s degrees in theology and divinity from the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri, where he also earned a Certificate in Thomistic Studies.
Before coming to Hope, Fr. Nick taught theology at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois, for four years. That experience with students has helped him build relationships and provide spiritual care at Hope College.
“He knows the age group very well,” Bading said. “I think he understands young adults, our strengths and our weaknesses. He’s a very personable man, the type you can talk to about anything.”