Beyond the Saxophone: Evangelizing Through Beauty

She came for the marching band; she stayed for the mission.

When Celeste Lirette first visited Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, as a prospective student, she was interested in playing alto saxophone in the Raven Regiment. Soon, she was leading the college’s music ministry.

“The enthusiasm I had for Benedictine’s mission as a prospective student and as a freshman has not faded over time, but it has grown and been confirmed by the people, organizations, and fruits placed before me,” she said.

Celeste, a senior Liturgical Music major from Shreveport, La., also cherishes the opportunity to be part of something bigger than herself as an Angelico Fellow, the fellowship program sponsored by the college’s Center for Beauty and Culture.

Benedictine College’s mission is community, faith, and scholarship — the same mission that transformed Europe for Christ in the middle ages. Now the college plans to transform American culture in the 21st century with the same mission. The Transforming Culture in America plan forms students in the mission, places them in key positions after graduation, and extends the mission beyond the campus borders.

“My involvement in the Angelico fellows has enhanced all three aspects of the Benedictine mission of community, faith, and scholarship in my life,” she said.

In community, she said, “I have met, networked, and worked with so many great students who are also fellows. As our fellowship caters specifically to artists and those in adjacent fields, it has been invaluable to meet those who are passionate and commit their lives to beauty as I do.”

Faith has been central to Celeste’s college experience. She was a member of the college’s ‘2,020 for 2020’ Memorare Army prayer campaign and has been in charge of planning the music for All School Masses.

“I know who else will be working in the culture to evangelize through beauty, and I will lean on them for a common mission forever,” she said. “My faith has been confirmed and strengthened by not only the witness of all the Angelico fellows, but the education I receive in our meetings also exposes me to ways I can personally grow in holiness, as well as be a leader to my friends, family, community, and world.”

Scholarship at the school has been “remarkable,” Celeste said. She has gone above and beyond her music major through the Gregorian Fellows Leadership Program, which presents students with enduring principles with contemporary application. An educational grant awarded through the Center for Beauty and Culture also provided Celeste an opportunity to study in Germany, an experience she said will shape the rest of her life.

“I have seen and experienced beautiful liturgies, holy friendships, remarkable scholarship, growth in virtue, support for the needy, and celebration of all the treasures the Church and our Christian culture have to offer,” she said.

Celeste expected a lot when she came to Benedictine College, but her four years still surprised her, she said:

“The surprise was that the hope I tasted in my first encounters with Benedictine were grounded in reality; a community rooted in Christ, a life worth living, surrounded by beauty— it is all real and truly possible.”

Editorial Staff

Benedictine College’s mission can Transform Culture in America by modeling community in an age of incivility, spreading faith in an age of hopelessness, and committing to scholarship in a “post-truth” era. We create video and other media content to promote positive messages of faith, hope, and love while Ex Corde Media Fellows program provides students with the tools, experiences, and contacts they need to enter the 21st century media world as effective communicators. Learn about the Ex Corde Media Fellows program.