Honorees of both the 2022 Newman Alumni Awards and the Beata Benefactors were celebrated as part of a special event Tuesday, April 19.
The annual Alumni Awards were established to honor alumni who are striving to make a difference in their communities and beyond, and live out the university’s mission of transforming society. Beata Benefactors are honored and recognized for their first-time support of the university throughout the year.
Though the Alumni Awards and Beata Benefactors celebrations are traditionally held as separate events, an unforeseen snow day caused the original date for the Beata Benefactors banquet to be postponed. The combined ceremony delivered a night of joyous honors to several members of the Newman community.
Recognizing outstanding contributions
The evening began with a social hour followed by a greeting from Cindy Miles, Newman alumna and president of the National Alumni Association, and an opening prayer led by Chaplain Father Adam Grelinger.
“We are here tonight to celebrate four alumni who are doing amazing things in our community and to honor our very generous donors,” President Kathleen S. Jagger said. “So many of our alumni and other friends of the university, by being examples of living our mission and examples of generosity, have been the bedrock of this sacred institution, which we all love.”
She went on to say how proud the university is of both the distinguished alumni and each of the Beata Benefactors.
“Thank you for your generosity of heart,” Jagger said. “It’s indeed through the gifts of your energy, experience and your shared assets that we are able to accomplish what we do for our students in order for them to graduate ready to transform society.”
2022 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners
Spirit of Acuto Award
The Spirit of Acuto Award is named in honor of the driving spirit of Adorers of the Blood of Christ. This award honors alumni and friends who, as a reflection of their association with Newman, have been a driving force, using their talent and training at critical junctures to move a vision to reality.
2012 Newman alumna Sarah Forster is the recipient of the 2022 Spirit of Acuto Alumni Award.
Forster is in her 10th year of teaching social studies to eighth graders at the Jardine STEM and Career Explorations Academy in Wichita.
When she first learned that she was nominated for and won the Spirit of Acuto Award, Forster said she was shocked.
“I sat there thinking ‘Why am I getting an award? This is my job. This is normal.’ There are hundreds, thousands of people doing the same thing I do every day,” Forster said.
As she continued reflecting on the award, Forster kept thinking back to a quote from Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “Do small things with great love.”
“I’ve been really blessed in my life to all the people who have instilled that in me and given me that guidance,” Forster said. “I’m very, very grateful and extremely humbled to be up here today, receiving this award and just want to thank the Newman community and the Alumni Association for this great honor.”
St. Maria De Mattias Award
The St. Maria De Mattias Award is named for the foundress of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. The award honors alumni who display a deep loyalty to Newman and its mission. The award recipient has also given meritorious and continuous support and stewardship to Newman University and Catholic life.
Mary Carter, who serves as the principal at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Wichita, is the 2022 recipient of the St. Maria De Mattias Award.
Carter said she was “absolutely blown away” to find out she was nominated for the award.
“I just felt like there’s so many deserving people,” she said. “There are so many alumni that come through Newman university that for me to be chosen was a very humbling experience.”
In a way, Carter said the honor feels as if it also honors all of the educators that have shaped her along the way.
“I’ve been blessed to have many powerful influences who have impacted me greatly,” Carter said. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I do every day or be standing right here without all of these people in my life. I’m grateful for each and every one of you and I’m thankful to Newman university for all that it’s given me.”
Beata Netemeyer Alumni Award
The Beata Netemeyer Alumni Award is named for Sister Beata Netemeyer, ASC, who served as the provincial of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ for the former Wichita province from its formation in 1929 until 1938. She was also instrumental in establishing Sacred Heart Junior College, now Newman University, and is the namesake of the established Beata Benefactors.
The award honors alumni who continue her spirit of service as they minister with others bringing about the mission of Christ.
Luke Barnwell ‘13 is the recipient of the 2022 Beata Netemeyer Alumni Award.
Barnwell serves as the head basketball coach at Sunrise Christian Academy and has been recognized as the national Naismith Boy’s High School Coach of the Year for two consecutive years.
Though Barnwell doesn’t like the extra attention of being nominated for awards, he is humbled and grateful for the blessing the honor brings.
“We’re the mustard seed,” Barnwell said. “We’re in a small little Christian school and the Lord has blessed it. I don’t stand here as like some, you know, crazy good coach or anything like that. It’s truly just being a vessel and opening our doors to what God wants.”
He added, “The only way you can explain it is that God’s had his hand all over it. So thank you.”
Leon A. McNeill Distinguished Alumni Award
The Leon A. McNeill Distinguished Alumni Award honors graduates who have achieved outstanding success in their personal lives and careers. They have enriched the church spiritually, made contributions to society and demonstrated concern for others. The award is named for the first president of Sacred Heart Junior College, now Newman University.
Pastoral ministry graduate Catherine Mardon ‘07 received the Leon A. McNeill Distinguished Alumni Award.
Mardon spends much of her time working with the homeless and with kids who are from broken and impoverished homes. She also advocates through writing. She is the author of 36 books — including 17 children’s books.
“I just started writing these books and each one has a topic of something complicated, whether it’s disability or war or homelessness or addictions,” Mardon said. “And it explains it in a way that 6-to 10-year-old kids can understand.”
Mardon currently resides with her husband in Canada and was unable to be present for the event, but expressed her gratitude for the award.
“I’m thankful for my Newman experience and I’m grateful to be recognized by the Alumni Association for this honor,” she said.
Honoring the Beata Benefactors of Newman University
Bob Beumer, vice president of institutional advancement, greeted attendees and expressed thanks to all those in attendance.
“One thing I have really come to appreciate during my time here at Newman is the members of our student body,” Beumer said. “Our students are special, they are driven. They will make you proud. And, they are grateful for your support.”
Sophomore Hope Strickbine, a biochemistry major with a Spanish minor, was invited to the podium to share a few words about her experience as a Newman student.
From her time in the Honors Program and working in the Student Affairs Office to various student events, classes and volunteer opportunities, Strickbine said she has received more opportunities than she thought possible.
“I am not even halfway done yet with my time here at Newman, but I have already learned and grown so much, and it is thanks to all of you that I have had this opportunity,” she said. “Thank you to all of you.”
Due to the pandemic, Beata Benefactor honorees of both 2020 and 2021 received recognition for their generosity during the banquet.
Societal induction for Beata Benefactors
The prestigious 1933 Society recognizes first-time donors for their cumulative donations of $1 million or more. The Dwane L. & Velma Lunt Wallace Charitable Foundation was gifted a St. John Henry Newman statue in recognition and appreciation of its continued support of Newman University.
Sacred Heart Society
Individuals, businesses and foundations that give $25,000 or more annually in cash gifts are inducted into the Sacred Heart Society. The following businesses and individuals were inducted into the Sacred Heart Society for their first-time contributions:
- Boyer Educational Trust
- Wichita Community Foundation
- Michael and Dale Bukaty
- Dr. Morris and Elizabeth Hund
- Jeffrey and Helen Hund
Monsignor McNeill Society
Those inducted into the Monsignor McNeill Society were first-time donors who gave annual gifts of $10,000 to $24,999. The following individuals were inducted into the Monsignor McNeill Society:
- Robert and Marie Pearce
- Paul Mohr
- President Kathleen and Jim Jagger
- Sheryl Stanley
De Mattias Society
Two organizational donors were inducted into the De Mattias Society, reserved for donors of annual gifts of $1,000 to $9,999 in a year: The Wichita Bowling Supply and Stinson LLP. The following individuals and couples were also inducted into the De Mattias Society for their generous first-time contributions:
- Vanessa and Raymond Dondlinger
- Jennifer and Christopher Magana
- Lon Kile
- Rachael and Bryan Woods
- Dr. Larry and Julie Straub
- Diana Stanley
- Sarah and Justin Yaeger
- Mary Ann Skoluat
- Richard Bell
- James McClean
- Jeff Gordon
- Joy and Patrick Wolf
- Justin Phillips
- Chris Crawshaw
- Ivan Moore
- Father Adam Grelinger
- Joshua and Michelle Chilson
- Ashley and Nathan Brooks
- Joanna and Nathan Pryor
- Eleanor Strecker
- Kurt Okumura
- Mary and Thomas Schulz
- Jamie and Seth Page
Sister Fran Schumer, ASC, closed the event by expressing her thanks on behalf of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.
“When the Adorers of the Blood of Christ first started a school — in the middle of a depression — in 1933, they were looked at as if they were crazy,” Sister Fran said. “Little did they know that their efforts would eventually grow into the Newman University we know and love today.”
She added, “It is because of the generosity of our donors that Newman University can exist, and we could not be more grateful for the support you have shown all of us as a university growing throughout the years.”
Giving Societies and Loyal Sponsors
Newman University recognizes that all gifts from alumni and friends are a blessing to the university. Whether this generosity supports the educational programs, co-curricular activities for students, scholarships, endowment, or the maintenance of the equipment and physical plant, it represents an investment in the future of Newman University.<br>