by Joe Bollig
WILLIAMSBURG — The annual Kansas Catholic College Student Convocation held here from Feb. 5-7 featured “three Wise Men” from the East.
No, really. Three college professors were the keynote speakers at the convocation: Richard Cross from the University of Notre Dame; Kenneth Howell from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Daniel Toma from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
The annual convocation has been held, under various names, for about 40 years. This year, the convocation was held at archdiocesan-owned Prairie Star Ranch near Williamsburg and hosted by the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas.
About 230 students — mostly leaders in campus ministry — attended, representing Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University, Kansas State University, Newman College, Pittsburg State University, Washburn University and Wichita State University.
Religious orders sent representatives, too, including the Community of the Lamb from Kansas City, Kansas; the Apostles of the Interior Life from Lawrence; the Marian Sisters (Grey Sisters) from Lincoln, Nebraska; and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters from Wichita.
“The convocation provides an opportunity for Catholic students from around the state to gather for formation, education and fun,” said Father Steve Beseau, director and chaplain of the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center.
The three professors were chosen because they are part of the Catholic Worldview Symposium, said Father Beseau. They talked to the students about uniting their Catholic faith with their intellectual life.
“I think Dr. Ken Howell’s keynote address on Saturday night at our banquet was probably a high note for many people,” said Father Beseau. “He spoke about the word ‘poiema,’ the Greek word Saint Paul uses to describe God’s handiwork. Every one of us is made as part of a ‘poiema.’ Through personal witness, experience and the Scriptures, he really opened it up to the students.”
In addition to hearing the keynote presentations, the students had opportunities to mix with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, Bishop Carl A. Kemme from the Diocese of Wichita, and Bishop John B. Brungardt from the Diocese of Dodge City.
Zach Watson, a KU senior from Olathe, really appreciated time with the Kansas bishops.
“You don’t see three bishops in one place very often,” he said. “It was nice to see their dedication to the young people of the state. Before the Mass we had with them [on Saturday], the bishops broke up by diocese and met with students from each respective diocese.”
“They had informal conversations about what was going on in their dioceses and how to better serve young people,” he continued. “After Mass, they stayed and had lunch with us.”