By Therese Aaker, Features Editor
Dr. Edward Mulholland, assistant professor of classical and modern languages at Benedictine, excels in living a well-rounded life.
You’ll find him anywhere from the classroom, to sporting events, to the cafeteria or even the theater.
He’s a man of many interests, a “utility infielder” whose talents are being put to good use in the varied classes he teaches, he said.
“I’ve always been a teacher that never taught one thing,” Mulholland said.
Tom Hoopes, vice president of college relations, has been friends with Mulholland for 21 years.
“I think one student said it best, ‘He’s weirdly into a lot of things’,” Hoopes said. “He has an amazingly quick brain.”
To Europe and back
In college, Mulholland felt he had a vocation to the priesthood and gave up everything, spending nine- and-a-half years with the Legionaries of Christ.
During his time studying in Rome, he met Blessed John Paul II several times and Blessed Mother Teresa twice.
Mulholland studied Latin, Greek and philosophy, completing an “ABD” doctorate, “all but dissertation.” After he left the seminary, he helped found the humanities program at Centro Universitario Francisco de Vitoria in Spain.
Eventually, Mulholland came back to the U.S. and married his wife, Valerie. He spent a few years teaching in Spain and at a seminary, but when he left, he felt like he was “missing something from Spain.”
“I found that being present was important to the students,” Mulholland said. “You can’t give them the philosophy of being human in a book … I wanted it to be something more … you want to form a Christian person. Being a teacher is to have an excuse to start a conversation somewhere else.”
Mulholland spent several years teaching, but lost his passion when he learned that the founder of the Legionaries of Christ was involved in a scandal. The revelation prompted a time of “soul-searching.”
“I hated teaching and couldn’t figure out why,” Mulholland said.
His wife knew he was having a hard time, so she called Hoopes, who, after doing Mulholland’s marriage preparation, had kept in contact with the couple.
Hoopes directed Mulholland to Benedictine and later met with President Stephen Minnis and Dean Kimberly Shankman to discuss Mulholland as a potential teaching candidate.
Shankman had the phone in her hand to tell Mulholland he didn’t get the job when a Spanish professor came in to say she had to leave to care for her mother.
Shankman asked Hoopes whether Mulholland could be hired as a Spanish teacher, to which Hoopes replied, “I think he spoke nothing but Spanish for a long time.”
“I wasn’t sure how Dr. Mulholland would take to Benedictine College and Atchison — or how Benedictine and Atchison would take to him,” Hoopes said. “I shouldn’t have worried. He genuinely cares about others — about people and about their ideas. People sense that and respect that.”
Integration into Benedictine
During his three years teaching here, Mulholland has taught Spanish, Latin, Greek and has loved every minute of it.
“I’m not only passing on what I love, I’m equipping you to transform the world. When I see students doing great things, it’s incredibly fulfilling. I can say I put a brick in that wall,” Mulholland said.
Andi Heither has taken two classes with Mulholland discovering that “he’s like nobody else.”
“I remember he stopped everything we were learning and said, ‘I believe more that God loves me and died for me than I believe I am in this room, because senses lie, but God doesn’t’,” Heither said.
While he’s been here, Mulholland has made a game of sitting with different cliques in the cafeteria. He calls it the “professors are people too, outreach.”
“Eating in the caf is an opportunity to know students outside the classroom. I want to be immersed in that community … I’ll go to plays and sports to show them support and be a member of their community. I can be enriched by your gifts, as well as you by mine,” he said.
Mulholland has also been involved in Theatre Atchison and the college’s theater department, starring in “Inspector General” and “Our Town.”
Being involved in the BC community is what anyone should do, Mulholland said.
“This is the way a human being is supposed to live,” Mulholland said. “That’s what culture is, it’s circumstances that maximize the growth of a person. It draws people in. A real community is a place where I’m encouraged and equipped to be the best version of myself.”