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A Chance From Chicago

Five new students on campus this semester represent the first cohort of Willibrord Scholars – stand-out students from needful neighborhoods in Chicago’s South Side.

The Willibrord initiative represents a coming-full-circle of sorts for the Rev. Jim Baraniak ’88. Baraniak’s first ministry as a young seminarian was at St. Willibrord parish. That parish is no longer active but the Norbertine mission in the area has continued as its priests and fraters at the Holy Spirit House of Studies serve the archdiocese. “When we go to the neighborhoods of great need, you always find students who stand out,” says Baraniak. “They’re active, they’re present, they have gifts and talents.” He and his confrères are able to identify students who would thrive in the rather different culture of northeast Wisconsin, and benefit from a St. Norbert education.

“They’re just going to light up the college in all kind of ways. To see what they’ve done already and their passion – that’s going to influence SNC greatly and we’re going to influence them greatly. And my hope always is that after four years they’re going to plug back into their homeland and make a difference there.

“We’re already working on next year’s class. How we’ll find students as gifted and as beautiful and as decorated, I’m not sure! But the harvest is plenty down here.”

The Willibrord Scholarships are funded entirely by private donations. “Willibrord students have shown remarkable determination in the face of adversity – determination to make better lives for themselves, and to make a difference in their communities. Supporting them is one of the most impactful things we can do,” says Jon Enslin, vice president of college advancement.


Nov. 20, 2020