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She never dreamed that pursuing art would change her heart. Growing up in a family as the oldest of six children, Emma Moorhead expected her hard work in high school would lead to attending a university near her home in the northeast. Discovering Benedictine College in the Newman Guide was the beginning of a transformational change in the course of her life.
“It was initially the presence of the faith lived out on campus that drew me here,” she said. “It was because of the time spent in adoration that I finally decided to attend, as the Holy Spirit was clearly directing me.”
In the fall of 2021, what began as a desire to study art education developed into a deep love for sacred art and theology. Emma arrived at Benedictine College with an open heart ready to be led by Christ and an open mind ready to learn.
“The Holy Spirit is working here – so much,” she said. “I truly could not comprehend how a place could be so alive with the faith until I saw Him working in the professors and students. There is something very secure and hopeful in knowing that He is moving in our lives at college.”
“Being a student at Benedictine has been really fruitful. In fact, it has provided stability for me in many ways,” explained Emma, who is very active in the campus community, serving as a Resident Assistant, attending the March for Life, and helping with the Hunger Coalition, to name a few.
Emma, a sophomore Art and Theology Major from Uniontown, Ohio, delights in the fellowship and in the service of something bigger than herself as an Angelico Fellow, the program sponsored by the college’s Center for Beauty and Culture. Inspired, Emma finds she is drawing from life with more beauty than she imagined.
Sponsored by the Center for Beauty and Culture, Angelico Fellows learn to renew and advance the Catholic understanding of Beauty as the inspirational power of the Truth, and culture as the bearer of that Truth to others. Named for the priest-painter Blessed Fra Angelico, fellows are given the tools to become leaders in the Catholic renewal of the arts and civilization.
“The life of an Angelico Fellow is a different experience for me because it’s such a new program and it’s student-led, so it’s been an adventure trying to determine different traditions and how we will contribute to the community,” Emma said. “Being with a group of Catholic students who understand the value of beauty and goodness has been very affirming for my own values!”
Angelico Fellow Angelico Fellows receive a $2,000 financial award for educational enrichment or internship purposes. They learn the value of Beauty and Culture together with students from many disciplines, establishing a theological foundation enriched by diverse academic insights. Additionally, Fellows attend significant cultural events and visit sites to enrich their academic studies with first-hand experience.
“As an Angelico Fellow, all three aspects of the Benedictine mission of community, faith, and scholarship have greatly been amplified in my life,” Emma said.
Faith stands out to Emma as a leading characteristic of being an Angelico Fellow. “We spend time studying and discussing art, food, and music at our meetings, always addressing culture in light of theology,” she said. “We always open in prayer and at the end we close with the seasonal Marian Antiphon.”
“My ability to explore other cultures through art has been truly outstanding – and beyond my expectations. Meeting the classically trained artist Henry Wingate when he gave a lecture on campus gave me an insightful outlook,” said Emma. “After Mr. Wingate shared his story and journey as an artist at a dinner sponsored by the Center, he encouraged the Fellows to study under a master, but to also finish our degree while being formed.”
“The community at Benedictine is really special. I have seen and experienced beautiful liturgies, virtuous friendships, attention to growth of all parts of our being, and celebration of all the treasures the Church has to offer,” she said.
“Through the craft of the artist’s hand, we experience the fullness of human existence that draws us to the Divine,” Emma joyfully shared. “I have started to understand the vocation of the artist and the mission to go out and bring people to Christ through our gifts. What’s the point in attending a school like Benedictine if you leave and have the same understanding of the world as the world also does? My time at Benedictine has transformed me, and the noticeable growth has become a witness to my family and others I encounter.”
With optimism, Emma closed by saying, “After I graduate, I hope to continue learning and improving my ability to create meaningful art that touches those who experience it. I would love to continue my education, eventually teach theology, and have a family, but there’s no telling where God will take me. I have hope in a fulfilling future!”
Benedictine College’s new strategic plan is to transform culture in America, a program based on the Rule St. Benedict used to transform culture in Europe in the Middle Ages. The strategic plan forms students in the college’s mission of community, faith, and scholarship, places students in key positions after graduation, and extends the mission beyond the borders of campus.
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 has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship. For further information, visit https://www.benedictine.edu.