by Joe Bollig
MOUND CITY — There have been several distinguished educators honored with the St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Award since 2006, and this year was no different.
Msgr. Stuart W. Swetland, seventh president of Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas, received the award after a Mass on Nov. 22 at Sacred Heart Parish in Mound City, which is also a shrine to St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann was the main celebrant, and pastor Father Barry Clayton and Msgr. Swetland concelebrated. Archbishop Naumann also confirmed 20 children from Sacred Heart, St. Philip Neri Parish in Osawatomie and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in La Cygne at the Mass.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne was born in France and was a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart religious order. She had a long-held desire to be a missionary to the North American continent.
In 1841, at the age of 71, she finally got her chance to work among the Potawatomi Indians at Sugar Creek Mission in Linn County, Kansas. She became known as “the woman who prays always.”
After only a year, it was clear the rigors of the frontier were too great for her, so she returned to St. Charles, Missouri. She died on Nov. 18, 1852. She was canonized on July 3, 1988.
Bishop Paul C. Schulte of the Diocese of Leavenworth dedicated Sacred Heart Parish and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Shrine on Sept. 7, 1942, slightly more than 100 years from the arrival of the saint at the old mission.
The Duchesne Award is given annually to groups or individuals who promote Catholic education, vocations to the priesthood or religious life, or devotion to St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.
Msgr. Swetland was modest about being chosen for the award.
“They chose me personally, but I think they’re honoring the great work going on at Donnelly College,” said Msgr. Swetland before the Mass.
“I’ve got a wonderful team there that does great things in providing faith-based higher education with a special focus on those who might not otherwise have access to a faith-based higher education,” he added.
Sacred Heart Church, which is also a shrine to St. Rose Philippine, has a stained-glass window that symbolizes this idea. It shows the saint giving a key to a poor child — the key symbolizes education as a way for the child to be lifted out of poverty.
“The monsignor, in the spirit of St. Rose Philippine, does the same thing through Donnelly College,” said Father Clayton.
“The college provides a Catholic higher education in an affordable, accessible way to help people be lifted out of challenging circumstances in their life to more possibilities,” he continued. “Msgr. Swetland imitates that example of St. Rose Philippine quite well, and it’s very appropriate that we present him this honor.”
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