Transforming Culture in Truth and Love: President Minnis Accepts Papal Award

President Stephen D. Minnis of Benedictine College, with his wife, Amy Minnis, was one of the remarkable Catholic leaders honored by Caritas in Veritate (CiV) with the organization’s Papal Award on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. “This award is a tremendous honor for Benedictine College,” Minnis said. “It is gratifying to know that the effectiveness of our mission is being recognized on an international level.”

What follows are his words upon receiving the award.

Thank you for this incredible honor. But I have to say: To be in the same line-up as these other honorees is a little overwhelming.

At Benedictine College we admire the work of Henry Capello and Caritas in Veritate. Their world vision to assist the mission of the Church, to promote integral human development and transform the lives of society’s most vulnerable populations — is what is desperately needed today.

It is CiV’s mission that inspired Benedictine College to bring a charism of service to our students, and it is the mission of CiV and the work they are doing which is a model for Benedictine’s vision to transform culture in America. This new, bold vision — unlike any vision for any university in the world — is sorely need for our times.

This vision to Transform Culture in America will be accomplished through our mission of community, faith and scholarship. Why? In a world of loneliness and polarization, community is the key. In an age of hopelessness and incivility, faith is the answer. And in this post-truth era where we are information rich, but analysis poor, we turn to scholarship.

Transforming Culture in America, at a time when culture needs to be transformed ,is the most important thing we can do. And to see what is inspiring to us at Benedictine College we have to look no further than today’s honorees. They show how community, faith and scholarship can Transform Culture in America.

Cardinal Pell shows how faith can conquer: through his clear teaching; through liturgy, which he influenced from the Vatican; and through his heroic witness to the faith even from prison.

Raymond Arroyo was a consultant for us during the three years in which we met with leaders to ask: How can we transform culture? He’s a model of how Media can transform culture “The World Over.” He has brought Christ to the secular media and to the world of literature as well.

Frank Hannah’s life shows how someone can be a leader in commerce and finance while transforming the culture. He has brought his wisdom to the White House and the Vatican — and he has participated in some of the most effective apostolates in our time, including our own beloved FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, which started at Benedictine College; as well as  EWTN, the NAC in Rome, and the Sophia Institute Press.

Charles Whitehead and his wife Sue have brought so many people to the Faith. When they get to heaven thousands of partners of the Holy Spirit who met God through their work will come and welcome them in. But they don’t have to wait for heaven. So many living people thank God for their ministry on earth.

Sr. Deirdre Byrne has personally helped transform culture at key moments in our nation’s history. It is thanks to her service and other Catholics that the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 while tragic were also inspiring. “No greater love is there than to lay down one’s life for others,” and she has done that and helped our service-people do that all over the world.

Jerry and Joan Colangelo, show how culture can be transformed through one of the last places where Americans all find common cause: In sports.  Whether America’s pastime is baseball, football, or basketball, the Colangelos have made a huge difference — doing it the right way with integrity and character.

Grant and Donna Ulrick show how America can be transformed by integrity in finance and economics; undergirding their community; giving much needed support to the faith; and showing how being good stewards is an act of Christian virtue.

And Enrique Melendez did America the greatest honor imaginable. He came from his own nation, El Salvador, to join ours, and he and his wife Pam have done incredible things to serve the nation through community, faith, and service. Thank you for coming from far away to show us how to be Americans.

These honorees truly demonstrate how culture can be transformed by building community; embracing the faith; and believing in the truth.  Congratulations to you all.

Again, I am humbled to receive this award with this group of impressive awardees.  I know that I am not worthy to be with this group, but I am thankful to be here and to receive this prestigious honor.

Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.