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On Aug. 30, the Academic Convocation at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, will feature legendary coach Lou Holtz. A noted priest alumnus who came to Benedictine College through its football program will be the homilist at the college’s Opening Mass that day.
Holtz will speak at the academic kickoff event in at 11:00 a.m. in Ralph Nolan Gymnasium on campus.
Holtz received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2020 for his contributions to society. Holtz has been a Commencement speaker and a previous Academic Convocation speaker at Benedictine and has a long, friendly relationship with the Catholic Midwest Liberal Arts college.
In addition to his speaking appearances at Benedictine, Holtz received an honorary degree from the college in 2007 and he and his late wife, Beth, were honored with the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict in 2012. The couple endowed a scholarship at the college and were among the first donors to the construction of Mary’s Grotto in the center of campus.
Benedictine College also announced that Raven priest Father Adam Wilczak will be featured at the Opening School Mass that morning. He attended Benedictine College on a football scholarship — his position was nose guard — and was a Benedictine novice before being ordained for the Archdiocese of Kansas City-Kansas.
Father Adam Wilczak briefly transferred from Benedictine College as an undergraduate but is quoted by the Archdiocesan newspaper saying, “I went back to Benedictine in order to learn the faith, so I could defend it. I got involved in Bible studies through FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), and became one of their student leaders.”
“We are thrilled to have someone of coach Holtz’s stature on our campus once again,” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis. “He represents values like hard work, ethical behavior, and a focus on the important things in life.”
“Father Adam Wilczak will be a great example for our students of the value of a Benedictine College education. He is a tremendous example of how Benedictine College is educating students to become leaders in the Benedictine tradition, who will transform the culture through their commitment to intellectual, personal, and spiritual greatness.”
Following the Opening School Mass and Convocation keynote address, the freshman class will be welcomed into the community of Ravens and will remove their beanies. The practice of freshmen wearing beanies dates back generations and Benedictine College may be the only college in America that still observes the tradition.
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 proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as 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. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.