Augustine Blosser, Gabriel Guzman, and Ryan Fricker explain their experiments to launch a glider using a rocket. This was one of 77 Discovery Day projects offering presentation on April 17, 2024.

Benedictine’s Discovery Day Showcases Student Research

Michael RaiaBenedictine College in Atchison, Kan., hosted its 28th Discovery Day on April 17, 2024, a day featuring student research presentations, a keynote speaker, and other activities around the Atchison campus. This year’s 77 presentations included a play, vocal and instrumental musical performances, a wide variety of academic projects, and a keynote address from Michael Raia, an architect and president of Studio io Liturgical Design & Consulting.

Crowded venues were the norm as students, faculty and staff of the college, plus visitors and area residents filled classrooms and auditoriums to hear students present their independent research on subjects outside the regular curriculum. Projects included a multitude of subjects, including construction of a rocket launched remote controlled glider, several studies of fruit flies, a demonstration of magnetic implosion, a look at the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a discussion of Byzantine and early Christian mosaics, construction and use of a kite-borne radio antenna, and much more. The day even included a Robot Battle Competition, featuring small, hand-sized robots with names like Blitz, Horseshoe Crab and Waffles.

As president of Studio io, Raia leads a team of Catholic design professionals who are passionate about beauty and renewal through the sacred arts. After 12 years of managing various religious and institutional projects for a commercial architecture firm, he felt called to pursue a graduate degree in liturgy and attended the Liturgical Institute at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Chicago, where Bishop Barron was rector at the time. In 2018 he founded Studio io and has since been blessed to serve over 100 Catholic clients with design consulting, beautification and construction planning projects around the country.

His keynote presentation, “A Church of the True Presence: An Integrated Theology for Engaging the Culture,” focused on the theological basis for what he is doing in design and how he can address the crisis of belief with evangelization through beauty.

“A true Eucharistic revival includes a church of the Real Presence,” he said. “A church building should make visible the invisible mysteries of the faith.”

He talked about the extremes of both too much decoration and ornate aspects of a church versus being too simplistic and bland in design. He said the building should express both visual and auditory beauty, commenting on the aspects of choirs and the spoken word within the sanctuary.

“The church building is an expression of God’s people on Earth,” Raia said.

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.