Archbishop Charles Chaput visited the West Chester University Catholic Newman Center on Friday night, March 23, participating in a dinner and discussion with 48 students. Questions were encouraged and many students took advantage of this unique opportunity to talk with the archbishop in a personal setting.
Upon his arrival, Archbishop Chaput was greeted and given a tour of the Newman Center by campus chaplain Father Tom Gardner and the center’s assistant director, Dan Pin. They reviewed the chapel that was renovated last spring and is now used for Sunday Masses on the campus. The renovation was made possible by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and other generous donors.
As he entered the Newman Center, Archbishop Chaput shook hands with each of the students before sitting down for the meal. After a prayer was recited, guests filled their plates with a meatless Lenten Friday dinner and sat to converse with one another as the archbishop came around to each table and made a point to sit and connect with each student.
Senior Laura Riebe, an active member of the Newman Center, was impressed by Archbishop Chaput’s willingness to spend time on the university’s campus with students.
“Clearly, the archbishop has many obligations but he was very intentional during his visit here at West Chester,” she said. “The way he took time to encounter every person in the room shows how he really cares for the Catholic youth and wants to invest in them accordingly.”
Once dinner concluded, Archbishop Chaput took his place in the center of the group to begin the question and answer session. He told them briefly about his life and spiritual journey including when he joined the seminary at the young age of 13. Then students were encouraged to ask the archbishop questions about his experiences or opinions in addition to thoughts about the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Many hands were raised high and the archbishop fielded several questions on topics including homosexuality, contraception, the importance of family and several other ideals that are being challenged by current cultural practices. The archbishop answered all of the questions honestly and thoughtfully.
Freshman Julia Marinaccio said she gained a better understanding of Catholic teaching regarding homosexuality. “It’s such a big topic in today’s society and I was confused on how I should look at it faithfully,” she said, “but he explained everything very well.”
Giovanni Mowrey, a West Chester senior, thought the archbishop “did a great job of relating the teachings of the church in a way that we could understand them. I hope that he inspired us to follow God’s call in each of our lives.”
Heads bowed as the archbishop raised his hands to bestow a blessing upon the guests in the room before his departure.
Students expressed their appreciation to the archbishop for his time and willingness to share knowledge about the Catholic Church.
They agreed the enjoyable evening of faithful and fruitful conversation was beneficial to all who attended, and that it provided encouragement for young Catholics to continue pursuing their faith and spreading God’s word.
Madeline Conte is a senior at West Chester University.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103