Pontifical College Josephinum presents highest clergy award to Bishop McKnight


The Pontifical College Josephinum was privileged to present its annual Good Shepherd Award — the highest honor it bestows upon members of the clergy — to Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, at its Good Shepherd Dinner on April 15.

Bishop McKnight attended the Josephinum from 1990 until his priestly ordination for the Diocese of Wichita in 1994.

After doctoral studies in Rome, he returned to the Josephinum and served for many years as a professor and administrator.

Throughout his Priesthood and into his Episcopacy, Bishop McKnight has maintained a strong connection to the Josephinum, most recently by accepting an invitation to join the seminary’s Board of Trustees.

“No one knows as much about the history and mission of the Josephinum than our Good Shepherd Award recipient,” said Father Steven Beseau, rector and president. “He has been and continues to be a tremendous gift to the Church and, in particular, to the Josephinum, as a man of faith, integrity, prudence and joy.”

The event brought together hundreds of seminary friends and supporters and many honored guests, including bishops, religious and lay members of the Josephinum’s Board of Trustees.

Present at the dinner with Bishop McKnight were many priests and friends from the Jefferson City diocese, as well as numerous Josephinum classmates and former professors.

In the presentation of the award, Fr. Beseau spoke of Bishop McKnight’s strong advocation of the laity’s role in the Church.

“He knows how important it is for all members of the Church to seek holiness and work together to carry out the Church’s mission,” said Fr. Beseau, who then referenced the honoree’s 2024 pastoral letter to his diocese titled Shaping our Future Together, which closes with a prayer:

“May we shape our future together by embracing our mission to be sanctuaries of mercy and centers of charity. Open our hearts and minds so that the parish communities will thrive with a spiritualty of stewardship and with a culture of co-responsibility. May we be ever more strongly united in our Catholic faith, prayer, and communal life.”

“This a reflection of who Bishop McKnight has been all his life,” said Fr. Beseau, “a man of mercy, charity, stewardship and co-responsibility, rooted in Catholic faith, prayer and the life of community.”

In addition to the award presentation, event highlights included toasts to the Holy Father, the United States of America, and the Josephinum, as well as vocal performances by seminarians.

Rev. Mr. Christopher Hoffmann, a seminarian and transitional deacon of the Jefferson City diocese who is to be ordained this spring, offered a reflection on his own time in formation at the Josephinum.

“Over the past four years I have been encouraged and supported by formators — both official and unofficial — as well as other seminarians, to be the man God is calling me to be,” he said. “It has been a joy and honor to live in this House of Saint Joseph. After this time of ministry opportunities, classes, evaluations, trials, and lots of prayer, I am joyfully ready to be ordained by Bishop McKnight on June 1.”

The Good Shepherd Dinner is the Josephinum’s signature fundraiser, the success of which is made possible by the many dioceses, parishes, organizations and individuals who sponsor the event, as well as by the great generosity of those who attend. Proceeds support the seminary’s mission to form holy, generous, adaptable and resilient priests for the 21st century.

“I firmly believe in the mission of the Church and in the mission of this ‘House of Joseph,’” said Bishop McKnight in his acceptance remarks. “In particular, I would like to recognize three individuals for whom I am very grateful: Jefferson City seminarians Deacon Chris Hoffmann, Bryce Smith and Gabe Eckstein.

“I am especially appreciative to everyone at the Josephinum for what you are doing for them and their formation as priests. God bless you all!” he said.

Carolyn Dinovo is director of communications for the Pontifical College Josephinum.