Dominicans to Assume Pastoral Care of Newman Hall-Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, and Dominican Father Christopher Fadok, Prior Provincial of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Western Dominican Province) are happy to announce the Dominican Friars will assume pastoral care of Newman Hall-Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley, effective July 1, 2024. The Dominicans are succeeding the Paulist Fathers, who announced in March they were leaving the parish due to a diminishing number of priests.

Dominican Father Xavier Lavagetto, currently pastor and director of the Catholic Community at Stanford University, will be the first Dominican pastor for the parish, whose members include the community of the University of California at Berkeley.

“Our diocese has been enriched by the presence and collaboration of the Dominicans, and I am delighted to see this being expanded with their acceptance of this assignment,” Bishop Barber said. “Father Lavagetto is no stranger to the Bay area and has great experience with university communities.”

“It’s our privilege to serve the people of God at UC Berkeley, and we’re honored Bishop Barber has entrusted us with this ministry,” said Father Fadok. “Since the 13th century, the mission of the Dominicans has called us to preach and teach in the university setting, so that the light of faith may complement and enhance the reasoned pursuit of truth. We are blessed to inherit the Paulist Fathers’ legacy of evangelization in Berkeley.”

Father Lavagetto added, “The friars have worked and ministered in the Berkeley area for a century. In many ways this is a natural fit for the charism of our order. Serving the fantastic students, faculty, staff, families, and the broader community at Newman Hall-Holy Spirit is a great honor.”

The Dominicans have a long history of serving in campus ministry (Newman Centers), having established the first Dominican-run Newman Center in 1908. They’ve served the Bay Area since 1850, and the Berkeley area specifically since 1924. Newman Hall is just 1.5 miles from the Priory of St. Albert the Great (the Dominican House of Studies in the West), which opened in 1932 to collaborate with the academy and give the friars better access to the university’s academic offerings. The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (DSPT) in Berkeley has participated in, and contributed to, the rich intellectual life of this renowned community for six decades.

Father Xavier Lavagetto, OP

Father Lavagetto grew up in the Bay Area and has spent the last 10 years as pastor and director of the Catholic Community at Stanford. He received his undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s College and a master’s in Divinity from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology. He entered the Christian Brothers in 1965 where he served as a high school teacher, counselor, and director of the Cal Poly Newman Center. He later had his vows transferred to the Dominicans in 1995, serving 14 years as pastor of St. Dominic Church in San Francisco, where he raised $13 million for a renovation of the beautiful Gothic church. Father Xavier enjoys cooking, studying, and scuba diving.

Newman Hall Holy Spirit Parish traces its roots to the late 1800s, when a group of Catholic students at UC Berkeley organized a society. In 1899, a Newman Club, named after the English Cardinal John Henry Newman, was established, with a priest-chaplain appointed and members attending Masses at nearby parishes. In 1907 Paulist Father Thomas Verner Moore was appointed the first full-time resident chaplain. Today, Newman Hall-Holy Spirit Parish is home to students at UC Berkeley and other area universities, as well as adults and families from the area.