By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
Father Edward A. Windhaus, 65, has served as the Newman chaplain of Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges on the Main Line since 2005.
Ordained a priest for the Philadelphia Archdiocese in 1972, he holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master of spaninity degree from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, and a master’s degree in liturgical studies from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
While a seminarian at St. Charles, he served in the Newman Center apostolate at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Father Windhaus is also a priest in residence at St. Anastasia Parish in Newtown Square.
Q. What are your chief responsibilities as chaplain of the Newman Chaplaincy Cluster of Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges?
A. As with all Newman appointments, we represent the Catholic Church on the secular campus. We strive to bring to the campus the resources and perspective of the Church to the needs of all. Sacramental life is central; education in the Church’s contribution to higher education; pastoral availability for any who seek what the Church can supply.
Q. Describe, in brief, a typical day in the life of a college chaplain – at not one but three colleges.
A. There are no typical days – everything depends upon campus schedules and what is happening in the lives of students.
Daily, however, there is the checking in with e-mail and Facebook to learn which students need Newman’s input or services and which campus programs might benefit from Newman’s presence.
There is a considerable portion of reading and writing to provide weekly spiritual and educational input – much like a parish bulletin – but more specified to student needs and making sure the “Newman Notes” get published on our web site and sent to each student’s e-mailbox.
Scheduling appointments for RCIA candidates and others who just need to talk over an issue [and seeking out] potential speakers [for the respective campuses] occur on a daily basis.
Q. What is your message to graduating seniors?
A. To remember Cardinal Newman’s concept that education has the moral component always – not just in content, but in the answer to, “What am I now to do with what I have been given?” – and to use their skills for their communities and, especially, their local churches.
Q. Could you share a heartfelt anecdote regarding your ministry as a college chaplain?
A. The heartfelt component is before me as I write a letter of recommendation for an alumna who was faithful at Mass, involved in classical campus vocal music study and performance, a wise lady sought out by her fellow students for her understanding and advice, and who is blind.
Guiding herself by memory and her walking cane around the campus, adventuring to Carmelite retreats on her own through Philadelphia transit and pedestrian traffic and through it all maintaining high academic standing and an open and pleasant disposition, she was the best homily to all of trust in God and the bearing of a cross – for she was not always blind – with patient acceptance and not a trace of self-pity.
I was able to provide for her a Braille text for the Pentecost reading that she proclaimed at her Newman Baccalaureate Mass last year.
Q. How do you encourage students who follow the rules that good behavior is pleasing to God and is always the right choice, particularly when negative secular influences attempt to spanert their attention from Christ?
A. I give them, week by week, an expose on a saint of the Church whose life demonstrates one or another aspect of living the Christian faith. Frequently, these people were very much alone, when all about them were following other voices.
Q. What do you tell students about God’s love for them, about how important it is for them to find happiness in life right now, and that God wants them to be happy?
A. I use more and more the newly developing concepts in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and ask them to imagine their relationship to God as a love affair.
Q. What is your advice to students as they consider future careers or a future vocation to the priesthood or religious life?
A. That with all that is possible for them, God ultimately has a purpose for them in life that He will reveal mostly in an inner sense of peace and quiet joy when that purpose is found, and that they should leave no hiding place unsearched as they look for themselves – including a vocation to Church ministry and service.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.