Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, will be reconsecrated to Our Lady on Sept. 8, 2023, after a 5:30 p.m. Nativity of the Virgin Mary Mass at St. Benedict’s Abbey on campus.
After the consecration in the Academic quad in front of Ferrell Academic Center on Sept. 8, the college students, faculty, staff and the broader community will celebrate the Nativity of Our Lady with a birthday party for Mary in Raven Memorial Park.
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The consecration commemorates the 10th anniversary of the college’s consecration to Our Lady in 2013. On Sept. 8 that year, the college installed a 21-foot fountain statue of Our Lady of Grace in the main Academic Quad and Abbot James Albers consecrated the college to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the fifth anniversary of the Consecration, 1,000 people surrounded the college, prayed a Rosary and embedded Miraculous Medals in the sidewalk. Abbot James renewed the prayer of consecration in these words.
President Stephen D. Minnis said it is important to re-consecrate the college because Our Lady has made a decisive impact on the college.
“This year, when we are dedicated to the Eucharistic Revival and to the proposed independent Padre Pio medical school, it is more important than ever to enlist the help of Our Lady,” he said.
“Without Mary’s intercession, we would never have been blessed as greatly as we have been. We might not even have been founded,” he added. “By re-consecrating the college to Mary, we are presenting the college to Jesus through Mary, so that in all things God may be glorified.”
President Minnis has given several examples of the Blessed Mother’s intercession at Benedictine College, which he calls “Mary’s Miracles.”
“Mary always leads to her Son, and we want nothing more for our students than to thrive in their faith in Jesus Christ,” he said. “That’s why we consecrated the college to Mary, and that’s why each year we hold the nation’s biggest birthday party for Mary.”
Here’s a brief timeline of Benedictine College’s efforts to honor Our Lady:
- In 1856, the founder of St. Benedict’s Abbey, Benedictine Fr. Henry Lemke, prayed to Our Lady as he collapsed in exhaustion, lost in a storm in the Kansas wilderness. He was rescued by a “lady dressed in white,” in what he calls “a miracle of the mother of God.” He pledged that from that day forward “I shall always call on you.”
- In 1858, two years later, Benedictine College was founded in the year that “Lady Dressed in White” visited another small town little girl: Bernadette of Lourdes, France.
- In 2008, on the 150th anniversary of the college and of the Lourdes apparition, the college built Mary’s Grotto in the center of campus. The 58 tons of stone used to build the grotto includes original stones from Lourdes, France. Lourdes water was used to mix the concrete.
- In 1863, the first sisters in Atchison heard their first Mass on the feast of the Patronage of Mary and took vows “in honor of Almighty God” and “the most Blessed Virgin Mary.”
- The college has relied on the Marian prayers of the campus Memorare Army prayer campaign to further the college’s mission, answering important college needs.
- In 2015-2017, the college expanded the prayer campaign to a National Memorare Army gathering more than 3 million memorares for religious liberty and celebrated religious freedom wins.
- In 2019, the college released the short film “Lemke, a Founder’s Miracle” to tell the story of the miracle of the college’s founding, and lit a perpetual lantern to commemorate the Miracle of Our Lady and the arrival of the Benedictine Sisters.
- In 2021, the college launched its Transforming Culture in America plan with prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe of whom St. John Paul II said: “Through her powerful intercession, the Gospel will penetrate the hearts of the men and women of America and permeate their culture, transforming them from within.’”