It is a unique and historic partnership between the Diocese of Corpus Christi and Texas A&M University-Kingsville to build a student center, chapel and new dorms near campus.

Other universities in the country have Catholic centers, but when this new project is complete, TAMUK will be one of the few universities in the country to include dorms as part of the center.

"All of the construction, God willing, will be done by August 2013," said Rev. Monsignor Louis Kihneman of the Diocese of Corpus Christi.

All the big wigs from the community were on hand Wednesday for the ceremony as officials from the university, the Diocese and the Newman Student Housing Fund had the honors of turning the dirt. The groundbreaking ceremony took place across from the intramural fields on campus, where the new project will be built.

The new St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center, a 300-seat chapel and a 278-bed housing complex will be constructed. The president of the university and the bishop of the Diocese of Corpus Christi said they both share a vision for the project.

"We'll be able to offer an opportunity that very few public universities have," TAMUK President Steven Tallant said. "We'll be able to bring in students that want to stay in South Texas, would probably like to go to a Catholic private university but are unable to afford that, and this will give them the best of both worlds."

"it will be a great sign to the university that faith still has a place in our lives and in the marketplace," said Bishop Michael Mulvey. "And we want to make that statement above all that our faith plays a role in our life."

There is talk that they may expand on the Catholic dorms to possibly house as many as 1,000 students.