Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Wednesday 22 May |
Saint of the Day: St. Rita of Cascia
Aleteia logo
Inspiring Stories
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Missed opportunities move Super Bowl star to speak at graduation

Harrison-Butker.jpg

Benedictine College

Tom Hoopes - published on 04/15/24

“When I was reminded by President Minnis that this class missed out on so many important milestones during their senior year of high school, I just couldn’t say no,” Butker told Aleteia.

Only one thing could convince a man as busy as Harrison Butker to add a commencement appearance to his schedule, he told Aleteia.

Butker is best known as the kicker who helped the Kansas City Chiefs win three Super Bowls, including Super Bowl LVIII this year. But he is also a successful entrepreneur in menswear as the co-founder, president, and chief operating officer of MDKeller. On top of all of that, he is a committed Catholic husband and dad, and a sought-after speaker.

So when Stephen D. Minnis, president of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, invited him to speak at the college’s commencement, he knew that getting on Butker’s schedule was a long shot. 

But Butker said one argument convinced him.

“When I was reminded by President Minnis that this class missed out on so many important milestones during their senior year of high school, I just couldn’t say no,” he told Aleteia.

A special message for a resilient group of students

When lockdowns shut down institutions worldwide in 2020s, high school students didn’t just lose in-person classes — they lost proms, senior trips, honors assemblies, and high school commencements.

Four years later, Minnis wanted to make it up to them. “After all of the high school milestones they missed, we wanted to give these students a truly memorable commencement experience,” said President Minnis. “We were impressed by the inspiring way Harrison challenged students in his own alma mater to live lives dedicated to their families.”

He said these students will especially benefit from Butker’s story.

Though he is only 28, Butker’s football career is already setting records.

Last February, he was Super Bowl LVIII’s high scorer. Not only were Butker’s points necessary for the Chiefs to win, Butker kicked the longest field goal in Super Bowl history at 57 yards, and now holds the record for the most total Super Bowl field goals in NFL history with nine.

In fact, after scoring 37 points across four Super Bowl appearances, Butker is now second only to Jerry Rice in total points scored in Super Bowls.

Minnis said, “All Chiefs fans are proud of Harrison Butker, but especially Catholics. We love the story of his faith and the commitment he has shown to his family and our students.”

Harrison2.jpg

A man of faith

Aleteia reported how Harrison Butker’s embrace of his Catholic faith began with a return to confession at Georgia Tech. EWTN recently updated Butker’s faith story with an

after the Super Bowl.

Butker’s faith was on display during the Chief’s Super Bowl parade on the Wednesday after the Super Bowl victory — which happened to be Ash Wednesday. Butker appeared at the celebration with ashes on his head. Many fans pointed to their own ashes as they cheered the team on.

The parade ended in tragedy when rivals in a personal disagreement fired shots, and Chiefs fan Lisa Galvin Lopez got caught in the crossfire. A devout Catholic, she was wearing a Harrison Butker jersey when she died, and Butker donated a jersey to the family for her burial.

“The faith was the most important thing in her life. It’s the most important thing in my life,” Butker told EWTN. “I heard from her family how much she was encouraged by me and loved all my work. That’s just very encouraging for me to continue on the path that I’m on to be unwavering in my beliefs.”

An honorary Raven

Harrison Butker will be awarded an honorary degree by the college along with Gen. Arthur Gregg, an alumnus who is the only living person to have an Army Fort named after him.

“It is truly an honor to be asked to give the commencement address at Benedictine College,” Butker told Aleteia.

Butker has visited Benedictine College before, speaking on campus about “faith, family and football — in that order” and meeting with Bishop Robert Barron at the school. 

Graduating senior John Mulholland, an economics and finance major, said he hadn’t expected to be excited about his commencement speaker, but he is now. 

Mullholland remembers the deflated feeling of graduating from high school during Covid-19 lockdowns. “We left for Spring Break and we never came back,” he said. 

He has followed Butker’s career closely and even heard him speak before. “I’m excited to hear what he has to say to us,” he said. “A lot of other people would have to earn the respect of the crowd to get them to listen. But everyone will listen to him.”

Butker says he hopes not to disappoint.

“I’m eager to give a powerful and truth-filled speech that I pray, if it’s God’s will, will be remembered by them for a lifetime,” he said. 

Tags:
CelebritiesEducationFaithSports
Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Aleteia-Pilgrimage-300×250-1.png
Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.