What a Catholic College Looks Like
On the eve of the U.S. Bishops’ November meeting, Benedictine College has presented its archbishop with a document highlighting the way Catholic identity can reinvigorate a college.
In January, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops requested that each bishop have a conversation with the Catholic colleges and universities in their respective diocese on how they have implemented Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church). Ex Corde is Blessed John Paul II’s 1990 Apostolic Constitution on Higher Education.
“Catholic Identity at Benedictine College in Atchison Kansas: A Ten Year Review of Ex Corde Ecclessiae,” the document the college produced, showcases how the school’s thorough implementation of Ex Corde has brought extraordinary success to the college. Since the year 2000, the school has: seen its enrollment grow each year, has opened eight new residence halls, has become recognized by U.S. News & World Report and has expanded its academic majors. Benedictine College now offers full programs in nursing and finance and is one of the few Catholic liberal arts colleges to offer Chemical, Electrical, Mechanical and Civil Engineering.
Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis presented the document to Archbishop Joseph Naumann, of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, on October 22, the first-ever feast day of Blessed John Paul II.
“We hope to show why we are the flagship college of the new evangelization,” said Minnis.
Among the information highlighted in the document:
- Required courses for all students in a philosophy department centered on St. Thomas Aquinas.
- Required courses for all students in a theology department that was in early, robust and public compliance with the canon-law mandatum.
- A retooled business curriculum with philosophy and Christian Moral Life requirements.
- A residence life program that forbids coed dorms and trains all students in theology of the body.
- Student life policies that require crucifixes in every dorm room and two spiritual programs in each residence hall floor, such as the Rosary and morning prayer.
- New campus art and architecture including: A grotto built on the 150th anniversary of both the school and Our Lady of Lourdes, the Mother Teresa Nursing Center featuring a commissioned painting of Mother Teresa, and a new 8-foot statue of St. Benedict in the center of campus.
- The compilation of the Benedictine College Values, a framed copy of which hangs in every classroom and academic department along with a crucifix.
- Extensive service to the poor, including nearly 600 students in a skip-a-meal program this year.
- No other school sends as many students from as far away to the March for Life in Washington.
- The school honors Catholic identity through six awards, including the Humanae Vitae Award, the John Paul II Distinguished Speaker Award and the Do Something Beautiful for God Award.
- The school is the birthplace of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students and remains a leading FOCUS school; more than 400 students have attended the FOCUS national conference in the last two years.
Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.