Benedictine President To Get Papal Award With Cardinal Pell, Hero Nun, Others

Stephen D. Minnis will be one of the remarkable Catholic leaders honored by Caritas in Veritate with the organization’s Papal Award on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. Minnis is the president of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

“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.”

The award is given annually by Caritas in Veritate “to distinguished leaders in the international community and in the Church for outstanding work in charity and leadership.” The episcopal advisors of Caritas in Veritate include U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops president Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez of Los Angeles, and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston. Caritas in Veritate has Consultative Status at the United Nations both in New York and Geneva, where its mission is to protect society’s most vulnerable populations from discrimination.

The award comes on the heels the launch of the college’s Transforming Culture in America plan formed in three years of meetings with board members, faculty, and leaders in all walks of life.

“Benedictine College’s new visionary plan is an exciting development for the whole Church,” Minnis said. “Caritas in Veritate shares our vision that Catholic truths about the human person are the answer to the deepest needs of the human person today.”

Others who will receive the award at the Nov. 21 Meet the Visionaries event in Phoenix, Ariz., include:

  • Cardinal George Pell, the former prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy who was falsely imprisoned in Australia for 404 days before being acquitted of abuse charges and released.
  • Sister Deirdre Byrne, an active missionary sister and superior of her community in Washington, D.C., who retired with the rank of Colonel from the U.S. Army in 2009 after 29 years of service that included the twin towers following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
  • Jerry Colangelo, with his wife Joan. Colangelo is former owner of the Phoenix Suns of the NBA, Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball, the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, the Arizona Sandsharks of the Continental Indoor Soccer League, smf the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League.
  • Raymond Arroyo, news director and lead anchor of EWTN News, the news division of the Eternal Word Television Network and author of the Will Wilder series for young readers.

A native of St. Joseph, Mo., Minnis graduated from Benedictine College in 1982 and obtained a Juris Doctorate degree from Washburn University and Masters of Business Administration degree from Baker University. Minnis worked as a prosecutor and corporate attorney for 19 years before becoming President of Benedictine College in 2004.

Since his appointment, Benedictine College has seen unprecedented growth. The enrollment has doubled to over 2,000 full-time undergraduates. Benedictine has opened 10 new residence hall buildings; six new academic buildings; a Marian Grotto; a student recreation center and dining hall. The college has either built new or renovated every dorm room, every classroom, and every athletic facility during this time. The college opened a campus in Florence, Italy; began a nursing program as well as engineering and architecture, making it one of few liberal arts schools in America and only the fourth Catholic university with engineering and architecture.

During his presidency, Benedictine has for the first time been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges and recognized by the Cardinal Newman Society as one of the top Catholic universities in America. Minnis was one of only five Catholic university presidents to be appointed to a U.S. bishops conference committee on Catholic universities in America and one of only four Catholic university presidents to be appointed to the Vatican Commission on the Church in America.

During this time, Benedictine College also committed itself to serving the poor around the world. International mission trips expanded from one in 2004 to more than 25 per year along with the same number of domestic mission trips — meaning more than 75% of Benedictine College students will be on mission before they graduate.

President Minnis himself participated in a student-initiated project to help fund and build a new Catholic church in Guatemala (shown above; watch documentary here).

Stephen is married to Amy (Kohake) Minnis, a 1984 graduate of Benedictine College. The couple has three grown children, Molly, Michael, Matthew and three grandchildren Joseph, Mary and Benedict.

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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 proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.

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