An aerial photo of campus.

BACKGROUNDER – Thriving Faith on the Benedictine Campus

Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Church Looks to Benedictine. Benedictine College has been invited to participate in the U.S. bishops’ Ex Corde Ecclesiaeworking group and the Vatican’s “Church in America” conference.

March for Life. Benedictine College will lead the March in 2014.The college’s active Ravens Respect Life student group sent seven buses that traveled 48 hours round trip to Washington, D.C., for the 2013 March for Life in an epic journey featured on EWTN and in USA Today.

Bishops’ Recognition. On Sept. 8, 2013, the Abbot of St. Benedict’s Abbey consecrated Benedictine College to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The college received congratulatory notes on the event from more than 50 bishops across the country, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

7 Raven Bishops. Seven 21st century bishops were graduates of Benedictine College, continuing a tradition of Raven bishops that reaches back to the 19th century.

Year of Faith. Benedictine College ended its year-long celebration of the Year of Faith with a Eucharistic Procession throughout campus on the Feast of Christ the King. Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration is offered on campus.

Archbishop. We welcome the archbishop onto campus multiple times a year; he regularly celebrates our Baccalaureate Mass and participates in special occasions including dedications and blessings.  The Archbishop has initiated a yearly “Fireside Chat” meeting with senior theology and philosophy majors discussing significant issues in the Church.

Other Dioceses. Benedictine College students engage in significant outreach to bishops in the five state area (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas), giving dozens of retreats for more than 1,000 high school students yearly.


Ex Corde Ecclesiae. The school traces its renewal to the principles in Pope John Paul II’s 1991 apostolic constitution on higher education, Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church). All of our theology faculty have received the canon-law mandatum. Our advertisements for positions in the theology department specifically require applicants who “enthusiastically seek the mandatum.”

Curriculum. Our curriculum requirements give pride of place to theology and philosophy, requiring multiple courses in each. Courses in departments as diverse as English, sociology, political science, economics, and mass communications include encyclicals and other Church documents. Our nursing program and other majors have been developed according to Church guidelines.

Recognition. Benedictine College’s approach has brought recognition from both secular sources, such as U.S. News & World Report and Colleges of Distinction Guidebook and religious sources such as The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic Collegeand the National Catholic Register’s Catholic Identity College Survey.

Evangelization and Catechesis Major. The Benedictine College Theology Department launched an additional new major, Evangelization and Catechesis, in 2013. This major is designed for persons who wish to become effective instruments of Christ’s mission on earth to make disciples of all nations. In it, students focus on either youth ministry or evangelization.

Archdiocese. The new Evangelization and Catechesis major draws on the expertise of Deacon Dana Nearmyer of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan., Evangelization and Faith Formation office.

Theology/Secondary Education Major. The Theology/Secondary Education major is designed to prepare theology graduates to become outstanding high school theology teachers. Throughout courses, associated field experiences, and culminating with a 12-week supervised teaching internship in a Catholic high school, graduates will demonstrate a mastery of theology content as well a pedagogical competency as a beginning teacher.

Supplemental Academic Programs

Institute for Missionary Activitythe college’s missionary training institute  features a symposium each year. The 2013 event featured FOCUS founder Curtis Martin, Bishop Robert Morlino, and U.S. bishops’ policy expert Jonathan Reyes.

Gregorian Fellows.The Gregorian Fellows Leadership Program promotes Catholic identity in the world by training young Catholics on how to be authentic leaders of faith.


Benedictine 2020: A Vision for Greatness, Benedictine College’s bold, innovative strategic plan to achieve greatness incorporates the faith aspect of its mission into each of its four priorities and directs the college to:

“Institute programs that train students to be disciples in the modern world and advance the mission of the Church in the world through the study and implementation of the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the call for a New Evangelization. Train students to effectively develop and lead projects that advance the Gospel.”


Team Approach. College Ministry at Benedictine College is run via a system of 10 teams with leadership positions, and a few staff members. This innovative approach prepares students to bring effective methods to parishes across the country.

Liturgical styles.College Ministry maintains a schedule of liturgies which emphasize both traditional poliphany and contemporary charismatic praise and worship in order to serve the diverse worship needs of a large Mass-going population.

Collaborative Organizations. Ministry collaborates closely with our sponsoring institutions, St. Benedict’s Abbey and Mount St. Scholastica as well as with close campus collaborators FOCUS (The Fellowship of Catholic University Students), St. Paul’s Outreach and Communion and Liberation.

FOCUS. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) was founded on Benedictine College’s campus. Last year, about 650 students participated in FOCUS Bible studies and discipleships.

Other Faith Formation programs at Benedictine College include:

  • John Paul II Distinguished Speaker Series.
  • Daughters of the King
  • Partners in Prayer at Mount St. Scholastica
  • Focus Bible Studies
  • Varsity Catholic
  • Communion and Liberation events
  • Regular Faith Events at the college include:

Weekly Wednesday Rosary. The President and Dean of the College lead the weekly rosary with the Dean of Students and Athletic Director and many students participating in this early morning event.

  • First-Friday Rosary with the President.
  • Yearly Marian consecration.
  • Jam for the Lamb.

Sacramental Life. Since 2010, the college’s RCIA program has brought 48 students into the fullness of the Catholic faith.

Sacramental events at Benedictine College include:

  • Four daily Masses on campus.
  • Daily Confession.
  • Perpetual Adoration at campus parish and regular adoration in a women’s and men’s dorm.
  • RCIA Preparation
  • Yearly Divine Mercy Sunday RCIA Mass bringing students into the fullness of the faith through baptism, first communion and confirmation.

Social Justice.  Hundreds of students travel to evangelize and serve in such places as New Mexico, North Dakota, Belize, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, the Philippines, India, Brazil, and Rwanda.

Social Justice programs include the Hunger Coalition, which was founded at Benedictine College after Blessed Mother Teresa’s 1981 visit, signed up 411 students in its skip-a-meal program last year and served over 10,000 meals to the needy in Atchison. Others include:

  • Skip-a Meal
  • Ravens Respect Life
  • The March for Life in Washington, D.C.
  • Christ in the City
  • Social Justice Week
  • Yearly Atchison Martin Luther King Celebration

Vocations. In the last five years, 67 alumni have gone on to seminary or religious life. The school promotes vocations in cooperation with our sponsoring Benedictine institutions as well as those religious institutions whose members attend Benedictine College:

  • The School sisters of Christ the King
  • The Marian Sisters of Lincoln, Neb.
  • The Franciscan Sisters of the Martyr St. George
  • The Benedictine Sisters from Tanzania
  • The school promotes vocations through events and programs:
  • Nun Run
  • Monk Run
  • Vocations Fair
  • Serra Club
  • Samuel Group


Freshman Formation. Each school year, Freshmen begin the year by processing to the Grotto to leave a candle in front of the Blessed Virgin Mary. All incoming students receive formation on our mission, vision, and values at new student orientation. All students are exposed to presentations on emotional and physical chastity at new student orientation.

Grotto Processions. Freshmen begin their tenure at Benedictine College with a procession to the Grotto in their beanies, placing candles beneath the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. Seniors repeat this in their caps and gowns, ending their tenure with the college the way it began. Marian processions to the grotto are also used to bid farewell to students entering religious life, and other themed events in the year.

Themed Years. Every year, the college adopts spiritual themes to set the tone for campus life and ministry. Themes have included: “Be the Light,” “Be Courageous. Be Faithful. Be Strong;” “Be Not Afraid” and “Do Something Beautiful for God.” All residence halls plan weekly spiritual programming.

Leadership Seminar. Since 2001, the college has required all students who wish to be considered for formal or informal leadership positions on campus to attend the Leadership Seminar will then serve as cultural agents who educate new students about the mission and values of the college.


The college catechizes and evangelizes with its art and architecture. Recent additions include:

  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Statue and St. Juan Diego Chapel – opened in 2014.
  • Our Lady of Grace, a 21-foot fountain statue installed in the academic quad in 2013.
  • St. Michael’s men’sresidence hall and chapel opened in 2012.
  • Mary’s Grotto in the center of campus dedicated in 2009.
  • Sculptor Frederick Hart’s religious sculptures installed in several locations in 2011.
  • St. Benedict 8-foot-tall statue of St. Benedict installed in 2011.
  • Mother Teresa nursing building opened with a specially commissioned portrait in 2010.

Benedictine College

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 honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and 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. Benedictine College is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.