PITTSBURG — The phrase “To the Heights” comes from the Blessed Pierre Giorgio Frassati, who died young treating people with polio. According to Father David Voss from the St. Pius X Catholic Student Center, it was Frassati’s passion for “greatness,” “ascent for prayer” and his “love of mountains” which made the phrase the best motto for the St. Pius X Center’s campaign to “raise the roof” and undertake other renovations.  

The St. Pius X Center — one of what are colloquially known as Newman Centers at universities across the United States — is located on Pittsburg State University’s campus between Horace Mann and Grubbs Hall. The center itself was built in 1968 and is now looking forward to some upgrades.

“We want to really help Pitt State to attract more students here too because we think that’s important, and it’s always been part of the community and we want to have a beautiful nice red brick facade to match beautiful Horace Mann and Russ Hall and even modern elements to it to match the Overman Student Center across the street,” Voss said, adding that they would also like to have a building that “obviously looks like a church.” 

For a bit of history, the Newman Club at PSU started in approximately 1914 and the students met at Russ Hall, Voss said. Later on they met at a building which sat at the same location as the center sits now. A new building was created to replace the old one, which had at one point been a hardware store and later a bookstore. 

After over a year of preparations, the center may soon get several upgrades. These include raising the roof in the chapel from 14 to 23 foot, changing the entire facade of the front of the building and many updates to the inside of the building. 

“We want people to come into a chapel and feel comfortable and more at home,” Voss said about the new look and other updates. 

The center raised $2.3 million for the $3 million project from private donors and grants — including grants through the Pritchett Trust and the Sunderland Foundation. The group is working toward hitting their goal of raising $2.75 million, which is the construction cost of the project. If they can reach that number they will meet the requirements for a challenge grant from the Mabee Foundation before the March 1 deadline. They are $264,000 away from their goal. 

“We’ve had 273 donors through our campaign so far and they have been very generous,” Voss said. “It’s been very amazing to see the support of this place. We just need the final push to get the challenge grant from the foundation.” 

People can donate through the campaign website www.totheheights.org or call Voss at 620-235-1138.