Newman University will present the second of the 2014-15 series of “Mission Talks” from noon to 1 p.m., Nov. 12 in the Tarcisia Roths, ASC Alumni Center, inside the Dugan Library and Campus Center on the Newman campus.
The event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided for the first 40 people who RSVP to Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC at [email protected] or 316-942-4291, ext. 2167 no later than 5 p.m., Monday Nov. 10.
The theme of the 2014-15 talks is a continuation of last year’s look at Monsignor Leon McNeill, the first president of Newman University. The second talk, entitled “The Watershed Years” will be presented by Sister Charlotte Rohrbach, Director of Mission Effectiveness and Archives at Newman.
Rohrbach will remind the audience of McNeill’s early life. She will then focus on his middle years in the 1940s, a period she describes as McNeill’s “Watershed Years,” because after consultation with the bishop and others he left his busy life as priest, educator and administrator and went into a speech therapy program in New York.
“Exactly what happened to him is unclear. It might have been a long term or sudden health issue, but Monsignor McNeill chose freely to leave and enter this speech therapy program,” Rohrbach said.
As McNeill returns to the Diocese of Wichita he will become a key player in the 1950s and ‘60s in terms of the major developments in the diocese and the changing world. The talk will also explore a few “grassroots” initiatives among the priests, many of which McNeill played a major role in, during and after the 2nd Vatican Council.
“After doing a lot of research and digging into McNeill’s life, I am very impressed with the amount of work that McNeill did day after day,” Rohrbach said. “The other thing that amazes me is his epistolary correspondence with people and how quickly he would respond to letters, and how he expected the same from others. Monsignor McNeill was a mentor to many of his fellow priests; the volumes of correspondence attest to this lifelong ministry.”
The 2014-15 series will continue exploring McNeill’s life. The remaining talks are set for March 4, 2015, and April 7, 2015.