One of the largest classes in Newman history was welcomed to the university on Thursday, Aug. 31, in St. John's Chapel during the Mass of the Holy Spirit and Matriculation Ceremony.
The Mass, an annual event open to all who wish to attend, served as a special welcome to those who have just begun their education at Newman. The freshman class of 2021 was given special recognition and attended the service alongside returning students, faculty, and staff.
Bishop Carl A. Kemme gave the homily, speaking about the opportunity to learn in higher education and even beyond that. He spoke about what it means to him that these new students are attending a Catholic university. He also talked about God's beauty.
"Many of you here are not of our faith, but the Church receives you as one of our own. We offer you this very beautiful and enriching education in the context of the community of faith," said Kemme.
He continued, "So many people today have no faith. In a world that is oftentimes marred with sin and evil, which is so rampant in the world, we want to look for beauty. Beauty of the person. Beauty of art, music, science, literature — all the fields of study that you may engage in here — all come from God. God is beauty itself. That beauty flows from God and spills into the world. And it's given to us simply because of love."
Kemme also talked about the new partnership with the Wichita Diocese, touching on the good news of future priests beginning their journey toward bachelor's degrees in philosophy at Newman University. He welcomed the seminary students who were present along with five newly ordained priests who spent some of their years at Newman.
Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D. added her welcome to the seminarian students, to the five priests who were once Newman students, and to the newest students on campus.
"All of these young men started ... in this very chapel," said Carrocci. "I invite all of you new students to use this chapel, the space that we're going to create at Heimerman Plaza and other spaces on campus to help discern your future — whether it's to the priesthood, to become an Adorer, to become a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist, a husband, a wife — let this place help you in your discernment process through the years."
After Carrocci's address, she invited the five priests — Fathers J.D. Betzen, Kyle Dugan, Adam Grelinger, Edmund Herzog and Andrew Labenz — to receive a special gift that would remind them of their connection with Newman for years to come.
With the help of Sisters Charlotte Rohrbach and Vicki Bergkamp, Sisters Patrizia Pasquini and Maria Paniccia from Italy, the five men were each presented with a first-class relic of Saint Maria De Mattias.
After presenting them with the gifts, Carrocci simply said, "May you always consider this Chapel your first home."
Following Mass, all were invited to enjoy a meal and hear a special presentation on the Most Reverend Eugene J. Gerber, Bishop Emeritus, given by the Very Reverend John Lanzrath.
During his talk, Lanzrath commended Bishop Gerber's sincere ability to listen, giving examples of Bishop Gerber listening, and by doing so, transforming society.
He said to the audience, "Each of us is called by name in the image of God to holiness. And each of us can learn from people who have shown by their lives how holiness is attainable. A good leader is a good listener. We are pupils, students, in formation here, no matter what our age, our culture, our creed, gender or race. We are children of God, and we need to listen attentively to the voice of God speak in our hearts."
The class of 2017-2018 is the second largest freshman class at Newman since 1971 and will be the first class to benefit from the new Bishop Gerber Science Center and its state-of-the-art facilities.