McNeill

Feb. 11 Mission Talk at Newman University explores link between Catholic Rural Life and Newman’s first president

Newman University continues to celebrate the 80th anniversary of its founding with the third in a series of four Mission Talks regarding the first president of the university, Rev. Leon McNeill. The talk, entitled “Catholic Rural Life,” will be presented from Noon to 1 p.m., Feb. 11, in the Tarcisia Roths, ASC Alumni Center, second floor, Dugan Library and Campus Center on the Newman campus.

The Mission Talk is free and open to the public. A complimentary lunch will be provided for the first 50 to RSVP no later than Feb. 10 at 316-942-4291, ext. 2167 or rohrbachc@newmanu.edu.

Also celebrating a milestone 90th anniversary this year is the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC). The importance of Catholic Rural Life’s economic, social, political, and religious initiatives is vital to the heartland of this country, the people of Kansas, and the Diocese of Wichita.

Beginning in the 1920s and continuing into the ‘30s, the Wichita Diocese became actively involved with the NCRLC and its founder, Rev. Edwin V. O’Hara. Newman University’s first president, Rev. Leon A. McNeill – who was also superintendent of schools for the Wichita Diocese at the time – was the diocesan link to the NCRLC and O’Hara.

The rural life movement during this era served as the catalyst for many Catholic organizations in Kansas related to Catholic action, welfare programs, and educational ventures designed to serve rural communities. The rural communities of the Diocese of Wichita were no exception.

Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC, Ph.D., currently director of mission effectiveness and archives at Newman University, will be the featured speaker at the Feb. 11 Mission Talk. Rohrbach will provide the audience with information about the NCRLC, McNeill’s involvement with this national organization, and what we are able to learn about McNeill personally from his correspondence with key members of the organization. She also will explain how this all connects with Newman University.

Previous Mission Talk presentations at Newman have addressed the character and formative years of McNeill and his ministry in the Wichita Diocese as the superintendent of schools while simultaneously carrying out his responsibilities as the president of Sacred Heart Junior College (now Newman University). Rohrbach’s research for this program focused on the special collection of McNeill’s letters and other personal material, which he gifted to the university archives shortly before his death.

The Mission Talk series on McNeill will conclude with a fourth presentation on April 1, and will cover McNeill, Catholic Welfare and Social Action.

Reservations are mandatory since a complimentary buffet lunch will be provided for the first 50 to RSVP. To reserve a spot call Rohrbach at 316-942-4291, ext. 2167, or email rohrbachc@newmanu.edu no later than Feb. 10, 2014.

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