Fr. Nathan Haverland is Benedictine College's Outstanding Young Alumnus

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Fr. Nathan Haverland in Beanie - Abbey ChurchBenedictine College in Atchison, Kan., is pleased to announce that Fr. Nathan Haverland, pastor at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Marysville, Kan., will receive the Outstanding Young Alumni Award at this year’s Senior Champagne Brunch. The award recognizes alumni who are under 35 years old, have distinguished themselves in their community and profession, and who support the values promoted at Benedictine College. Each year the honoree returns to address the graduating seniors at the traditional brunch the day before Commencement.

Haverland is a Benedictine graduate from 2005 who once wanted to be an astronaut and did post-graduate studies in nuclear engineering. With his serious desire to become an astronaut and his affinity for science, he was interested in pursuing degrees in physics and astronomy. There were only two schools in Kansas that offered both degree programs, Benedictine College and the University of Kansas, and after a visit to KU, he knew it was not for him. He enrolled in Benedictine College, despite the fact that he had grown up without religion in his life.

“Sunday was just another weekend day, just another Saturday,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about God. I think we all have the inherent desire to know God. I mean, I had a lot of questions, but I didn’t know anything growing up.”

That all changed at Benedictine, which requires students to take theology classes. Haverland began to learn about the Church. During his junior year, he took a Theology course that changed his life. He said it was the point at which he started falling in love with the Church. Later that year, he was baptized and confirmed and received his First Communion.

“I kind of took my first leap of faith, I guess, going to this small, Catholic college that I didn’t know anything about, knew nothing about the Church, knew nothing about the college, didn’t know a single soul there,” he said in an interview with The Chieftan. He was baptized at Benedictine College as a junior. “It was very beautiful — it was the beginning of my life as a Catholic,” he said. “I still never would have imagined that I would be a priest at that point.”

By graduation in 2005, his dream of becoming an astronaut had passed and he had turned to nuclear engineering. He received a scholarship to the University of Michigan, one of the top nuclear engineering programs in the country. After a while, though, he realized nuclear engineering would not make him happy and he began looking at religious orders.

“I was sort of exploring all of my options, and the thing I could be most peaceful about was trying the seminary out for a while,” he said.

Haverland visited with Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and made the decision to enter Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. He was ordained in 2013 and was able to offer his first Mass at St. Benedict’s Abbey, where he had been confirmed just nine years before.

He has previously spoken at Benedictine College and with his distinct background, addressed the issue of faith and reason, science versus religion.

“People often think the two are somehow opposed to each other, but history shows that the two have worked well alongside each other…,” he said. “The conflicts between science and religion tend to occur when either of them steps out of their area of expertise. But overall, the two shouldn’t be contrary to one another because they study two different things. Science studies the universe and theology studies the author of the universe.”

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.

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