The Rev. Steve Beseau has big shoes to fill, and he knows it.
Next March, Beseau, 39, will take over as the new director of St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center, 1631 Crescent Road.
He'll be following in the footsteps of the center's longtime director, Monsignor Vince Krische, who led the Catholic Church's ministry to the Kansas University community for 28 years.
Krische, 66, is a nationally known figure, respected among his colleagues in ministry for having transformed St. Lawrence into one of the nation's premier Catholic campus centers.
Krische reported to his new assignment at St. Ann Catholic Church in Prairie Village on July 15.
That's the parish Beseau left this summer in order to start his new responsibilities at St. Lawrence. He served at St. Ann's from January 2003 until this summer.
Beseau learned of the assignment in a June 11 telephone call from Archbishop Joseph Naumann, of the Archdiocese of Kansas in Kansas City - the diocese that encompasses Lawrence.
"Now that the surprise has worn off, I'm very joyful, that's the best way to describe it. There's a lot of joy, a lot of excitement, a bit of fear and trepidation. No one ever wants to follow anyone that is as successful in their field as Monsignor Vince Krische is at the St. Lawrence Center, someone who's been there a long time," said Beseau, a Shawnee native.
"But more than that, (he has) just a joyful heart, a strong sense of excitement and just a sense of adventure that I'm going to be entering into."
Becoming the center's director will be a kind of homecoming for Beseau, who graduated from KU in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in secondary education.
"That's right - I'm going back to KU. I thought, 'Well, you know, we haven't won the national championship (in basketball) since I left, so maybe that's another reason why I'm being sent back, too,'" he said.
Beseau is currently studying at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.
He won't be an entirely new face when he begins his work next March. He served on the center's advisory council from 2000 to 2004.
Beseau knows he is inheriting a gem from Krische, a Catholic campus ministry that is considered by many as the model of a successful program.
KU has approximately 25,000 students, of whom, Krische estimated, 6,000 to 8,000 identify as Catholics.
About 2,500 Catholic students at KU attend Masses regularly at St. Lawrence, and about 1,100 of them participate in one of the 47 service, social or spiritual programs the center offers.
Three hundred KU students are taking catechetical or theological classes at St. Lawrence.
And each year, the center offers 42 merit or need-based scholarships totaling $94,000, according to Krische.
"Yes, it's recognized as one of the top three Catholic campus ministries in the nation," Beseau said.
"Monsignor Krische has built up this center into something that is nationally recognized as one of the best. For him to be able to turn that over to me ... It's a great gift - and a great responsibility."
About the new director
Name: The Rev. Steve Beseau Age: 39 Position: Director, St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center, 1631 Crescent Road; assumes responsibilities March 1, 2006. Previous assignments: Pastor, St. Ann Catholic Church, Prairie Village, January 2003 to July 15, 2005; pastor, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Ottawa, 2000 to 2002; associate pastor, 1995 to 1998. Home parish: St. Joseph Catholic Church, Shawnee. Education: Bachelor's in secondary education, 1988, Kansas University; baccalaureate in sacred theology, 1994, master's of divinity, 1995, Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Ill.; license of sacred theology, 2000, Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas; currently working on doctorate in sacred theology (emphasis in moral theology), Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. Ordained: June 10, 1995, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Shawnee. Other: Served on St. Lawrence's advisory council, 2000 to 2004.