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Esselen Peer Ministers


Catholic juniors and seniors at the University of Massachusetts

Amherst who help undergraduates grow in their faith through

the Newman Catholic Center.  

Contact the Peer Ministers at


Peer Ministers for the 2021-2022 Academic Year:​

  • Maria Platero

  • Nicholas DiBello








Solid - and Accessible - Roman Catholic Witnesses

Lay leaders who lead by example, peer ministers participate in prayer, reflection, and faith development opportunities.  As part-time pastoral staff members, peer ministers meet other UMass students "where they are," ease the way for them to connect with others, and especially help to connect them meaningfully with Christ in His Church.

Outreach and Evangelization

Peer Ministers are available to students looking to find ways to connect with the Catholic faith.  Peer ministers' commitment to the body of Christ charges them to be in touch with the Church in the wider Diocese and around the world. 


Through regular participation in the sacraments, leadership in faith development opportunities, and personal witness, peer ministers help students associate the traditions and teachings of the Church and the Spirit of God moving among us with the real problems and opportunities of University life.


Newman Catholic Student Association

Since they are Catholic UMass Amherst students, Esselen Peer Ministers are also members of the Newman Catholic Student Association.  Their support of the NSA is regular and ongoing through prayer, camaraderie, and shared effort.


Living the Faith at UMass

Members of the pastoral team, Esselen Peer Ministers are vital to the mission of the Newman Center.  Peer ministers make honest, faithful approaches to thriving at UMass, responding to others' attitudes and questions towards faith, dealing with spiritual and religious matters, and growing with Christ.  Peer ministers receive a stipend, office space, colleagues' respect and support, training in ministry, and ongoing supervision by pastoral staff.


Being Together

When UMass is in session Peer Ministers keep regular hours in their office on the main corridor of the Newman Center.  Students drop by to relax, chat, seek a referral, and talk over things that matter.  Peer Ministers actively support and promote Newman Catholic Student Association and Newman Center ministry activities.


Peer Ministry is focused more on building relationship than on building activity programs.  Nevertheless, during the school year Peer Ministers may sponsor retreats, Masses, lectures, reconciliation services, and other activities.

Five College Collaboration

Peer Ministers foster collaboration, shared spiritual events, and just plain fun between students of the Five Colleges: Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and UMass Amherst.

The Esselen Peer Ministers are a unique talented group of peer ministers who are funded by the generousity of Janina Esselen, a long time benefactor of Newman & peer ministry:

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