ATCHISON – President Stephen D. Minnis of Benedictine College here was one of a number of Catholic leaders honored by Caritas in Veritate (CiV) with the organization’s papal award on November 21.
“This award is a huge honor for Benedictine College,” said Minnis. “It is gratifying to know that the effectiveness of our mission is recognized internationally.
The award is presented annually by Caritas in Veritate “to outstanding leaders of the international community and the church for their outstanding work in charity and leadership”. Caritas in Veritate episcopal counselors include the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston.
The award follows the launch of the college’s “Transforming Culture in America” plan formed after three years of meetings with board members, faculty and leaders from all walks of life.
“The Benedictine College’s visionary new plan is an exciting development for the whole church,” said Minnis. “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. “
A native of St. Joseph, Missouri, Minnis graduated from Benedictine College in 1982 and received a Juris Doctor from Washburn University, Topeka, and an MBA from Baker University, Baldwin City. Minnis worked as a prosecutor and corporate lawyer for 19 years before becoming president of Benedictine College in 2004.
Since her appointment, the college has experienced unprecedented growth. Enrollment has doubled to over 2,000 full-time undergraduate students. Benedictine opened 10 new university residence buildings; six new university buildings; a Marian cave; a student recreation center and a dining hall. The college built or renovated every dormitory, classroom, and athletic facility during this time. The college opened a campus in Florence, Italy; began a nursing program as well as engineering and architecture programs, making it one of the few liberal arts schools in America – and only the fourth Catholic university – with engineering and architectural programs of architecture.
Minnis was one of five Catholic university presidents to be appointed to a committee of the American Bishops’ Conference 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.
Meanwhile, the Benedictine College is also committed to serving the poor around the world. International mission trips have grown from one in 2004 to over 25 per year, with the same number of national mission trips, meaning that over 75% of Benedictine College students will be on mission before graduation.
Minnis was also involved in a student-initiated project to help fund and build a new Catholic church in Guatemala.
Minnis is married to Amy (Kohake) Minnis, who graduated in 1984 from Benedictine College. The couple have three grown children – Molly, Michael and Matthew – and three grandchildren – Joseph, Mary and Benedict.