by Brianna Sluder
Special to The Leaven
ATCHISON — Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann traveled north to Atchison on March 2 to visit with Benedictine College students. It is a trek he makes many times a year, but this one is to meet with a singular group — the college’s theology and philosophy seniors.
“After a visit to Benedictine College from Cardinal Christoph Schonborn in 2010 and his discussion of the opportunity to have deep discussions with Pope Benedict XVI as a student,” said Benedictine president Stephen Minnis, “Archbishop [Naumann] suggested that we gather the senior theology and philosophy majors together to discuss topics of the day.”
Since then, Benedictine has hosted the archbishop every spring, calling the event the Archbishop’s Fireside Chat.
“I think it is a wonderful opportunity for our senior majors to have a discussion with our archbishop on various topics,” said Minnis.
This year, the topic was Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia,” and the importance of marriage and families. Archbishop Naumann explained that one of the main goals of the archdiocese’s 10-year vision is to strengthen marriage and family life.
“We just launched the Joyful Marriage Project . . . inviting every couple to do some sort of marriage enrichment this year,” said Archbishop Naumann. It is married couples, he reminded the students, that are called to choose daily to lay down one’s life for one’s spouse, and he stressed the importance of constantly working to strengthen marriages.
Emily Kane, a senior theology major, expressed her appreciation for the evening.
“He is truly a shepherd to us, and the fact that he takes time out of his busy schedule to be with college students is a real witness to me,” said the Minnesota native. “To be reassured of the truth by him was exactly what we students needed to hear.”
Archbishop Naumann described marriage as a “vocation to heroic love” and offered suggestions for marriage enrichment.
“In Chapter Four of ‘Amoris Laetitia,’” he said, “Pope Francis gives a beautiful reflection on St. Paul’s famous canticle on love. This could be a great tool for married couples to read and ponder.”
Put simply, the archbishop said, “Family is the foundation of society, culture, the nation and the church. Marriage is the foundation of family.
That’s why, he concluded, “The health and vibrancy of marriage is important to all of us.
“We all have a stake in marriage.”