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President of Benedictine College Stephen D. Minnis and his wife, Amy, will receive the Echo of Kateri Award from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and Camp Kateri Tekakwitha at Prairie Star Ranch. The couple has long been associated with the camp through their own children and through Benedictine College, which sends nearly half of the camp counselors to the facility each year. . The event, which will also honor camp staff member Father Anthony Oullette, begins at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 28, with a picnic at the camp, followed by Mass with Archbishop Joseph Naumann, the awards ceremony, and an outdoor concert.
“Steve and Amy Minnis are great friends of Camp Tekakwitha,” said Deacon Dana Nearmyer, who founded the camp and serves as its director with his wife, Deborah. “They helped hundreds of Benedictine College students find their way to being camp staff. Those students have witnessed to the campers both their vibrant relationships with Jesus and a love of Benedictine College.”
Nearmyer said the Minnises have nurtured a culture at Benedictine College that has fostered a strong, mutually beneficial relationship between Camp Tekakwitha and the school.
“Steve and Amy are dynamic and faithful spiritual leaders,” he said. “Dioceses from around the country are looking into the possibility of starting a Catholic camp because their Benedictine alumni parishioners who are former camp staffers come home raving about how Camp Tekakwitha illuminated and energized their relationship with Jesus.”
“Steve and Amy’s greatest gift to Camp Tekakwitha, without a doubt, was sending their own precious children, Mike and Molly, to be campers for many years,” Nearmyer said. “As campers they made a deep impact on the creativity and energy of the camp, but they made an even deeper impact as they returned as staff members.”
Deborah and Dana Nearmyer are the co-directors and co-founders of Camp Kateri Tekakwitha. They worked with Archbishop Keleher and Fr. Tom Tank, the priests and youth ministers of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas to found Camp Tekakwitha in 1998 and Prairie Star Ranch in 2001. The camp combines demanding outdoor activities with powerful spiritual instruction, bringing about a unique encounter with God. Camp Tekakwitha, named after the first Native American to be recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church, is hosted at Prairie Star Ranch, located in Williamsburg, Kansas. Directions to the facility can be found on the Archdiocesan website at https://www.archkck.org/psr/psr-proto-2-directions.