by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
For anyone who is tempted to yield to discouragement, I wish you could have been with me this past weekend.
On Friday, I had the privilege of celebrating the baccalaureate Mass for Benedictine College. The renewal of Benedictine College over the past 25 years coincided with the recommitment of its board to Catholic identity.
In addition to academic excellence, Benedictine College provides students with an atmosphere — as well as concrete opportunities — to grow not only intellectually, but also spiritually. It is truly a place where faith and reason are seen not as opponents but partners in the pursuit of the transcendentals: truth, beauty and goodness.
In what some have termed a post-truth era, Benedictine students have the opportunity to discover eternal truths that are accessible through rational thought. In a time when so much of what is celebrated as art reflects the nihilism and despair of an increasingly secularized society, Benedictine students are provided with opportunities to experience beauty both in literature and liturgy.
In a culture that shuns all moral absolutes, mistakes tolerance of destructive behaviors as compassion, and is fixated on the scandals of those with whom they disagree, Benedictine students line up to encounter God’s mercy and grace in the confessional, embrace opportunities to serve and are provided the tools to grow in virtue.
After celebrating Mass with the graduates and their families, I left Atchison renewed in hope for the future. It is exciting to contemplate the impact these graduates will have on our culture and society.
On Saturday morning, I was up early to offer the opening prayer for the ninth Running with the Cows race sponsored by Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Wea.
Approximately 2,000 runners and walkers participated in the event, raising money to benefit the parochial school. It is beautiful to witness the hard work and joy of the volunteer team of parishioners who have made this event a reality for the past nine years.
In addition to the parishioners and their family and friends who participate in Running with the Cows, serious runners come from throughout the metro area and beyond to enjoy hospitality, fresh air and excellent food. Parishioners do an amazing job of making the visitors feel like honored guests — and for those who are interested, taking them on a tour of their beautiful church.
For me, it was a source of encouragement because it is just one illustration of the vitality of our parish communities and the commitment and creativity of parishioners in support of their parishes and schools.
From Running with the Cows, I went to Savior Pastoral Center for Donnelly College’s commencement program. This is another favorite event on my annual calendar. Once again this year, 80 percent of the more than 100 graduates were the first in their family to receive a degree in higher education. Donnelly College has for almost 70 years now been opening doors of educational opportunity.
It is truly a transformative ministry. It is not just life-changing for the graduate, but for successive generations of their family. If a parent has received a college degree, it is much more likely that their sons, daughters and grandchildren will as well. I wish every member of the archdiocese could have heard the two student speakers share the obstacles that they overcame and the impact of the Donnelly experience on their lives.
Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer addressed the students, encouraging them to be bold in pursuing their dreams. Donnelly alum Dr. Liza Rodriguez gave the commencement address. She is an outstanding example of how Donnelly College graduates are making a positive difference in our community.
From the Donnelly commencement ceremonies, I went to the cathedral to celebrate Mass with six 2018 Catholic medical school graduates, their families, and members of the St. Cosmas and Damian Guild — the Kansas City chapter of the Catholic Medical Association.
As part of the liturgy, the graduates took the Hippocratic Oath in which they promised to serve their patients with professional competence and with an ethics that places a patient’s welfare above scientific research or experimentation.
The new doctors also promised: “I will neither prescribe nor administer a lethal dose of medicine to any patient even if asked nor counsel any such thing nor perform an act or omission with the direct intent deliberately to end a human life. I will maintain the utmost respect for every human life from fertilization to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life.”
In addition, the medical graduates made promises as Catholic physicians not only to practice medicine according to the highest ethical standards, but also to donate part of their time “for free and charitable care of the poor.” They also committed to strive to grow in their own faith lives.
I encouraged the new doctors to allow their practice of medicine and their scientific knowledge to strengthen and deepen their faith. I urged them never to grow callous to the miracle of the human body and to recognize the image of the Creator in its intricate and amazing design.
In my prayer Saturday night, I was filled with gratitude for the graduates of Benedictine College, Donnelly College and the University of Kansas Medical School whom I had encountered over the last 48 hours. Our world and nation will be better for the contributions that they will make in their professional, personal and family lives.
I was also thankful for the parishioners of Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Wea. They are emblematic of the goodness and generosity of the people in our 100-plus parishes throughout the archdiocese.
There are certainly many problems and difficulties in our world. The devil loves to use them to make us feel discouraged and to tempt us to despair. However, there are also many expressions of goodness that surround us in our everyday lives.
Plus, our greatest reason for hope is the promise of Jesus to be with his disciples until the end of time and to send the Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide us.
As we complete our archdiocesan novena for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit and look forward to the celebration of the great solemnity of Pentecost, let us choose not to be prophets of doom in a world already dreary with the devil’s pessimism, but to fulfill our mission as disciples of Jesus to be his witnesses of hope!