Please register to access this FREE content.
The festivities on Sept. 8, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary were a dream come true for President Stephen D. Minnis.
“What a beautiful night!” said Minnis. “We owe so much to Mary’s intercession. Benedictine is truly Our Lady’s college.”
More than 1,200 people experienced a solemn ceremony and exuberant celebration as Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, was reconsecrated to Our Lady on Sept. 8, 2023.
In advance of the celebration, Catholic Vote gave shared a story about how the event has its roots in the devotion to Mary of President Minnis.
The story, “Rooted in the Rosary: How a Deep Devotion to the Blessed Mother Has Transformed a College,” begins this way:
“Stephen Minnis, president of Benedictine College, began the 2023 school year as he always does: praying a rosary with students on the first day of classes.
“A photo of Minnis praying the rosary with students quickly went viral on social media, after Catholic journalist Sachin Jose tweeted the photo on his X page, which received over 64,400 views.
“But this event was not out of the ordinary …”
It quotes Minnis at length about the school’s Marian devotion.
“In 2013, we formally consecrated the college to our Blessed Mother, and we put the entire college in her hands and asked her to continue to bless and intercede on the college’s behalf so great things would happen,” Minnis told CatholicVote. “Once we did that, unbelievable things began to happen here at the college, and so that consecration has been really important.”
He listed record growth in student population, academic offerings, and buildings.
“When people ask me, ‘Why are we having this success?’, I always point to two things: Number one, we embraced our mother. And the second thing was that we embraced our mission,” said Minnis. “I decided that every Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m., I would lead a rosary for the college, and we would pray for strength and faith life on our campus. And we pray for our students.”
Catholic Vote listed his daily requests of Our Lady, including lighting a candle in the school’s Grotto, praying a daily rosary for Our Lady’s intercession at the school, and prays a Hail Mary for each student when he signs their acceptance letter.
He tells students “I tell freshmen every year, there’s thousands of young people going to college just like them. Each one of them says ‘that I chose this college or I picked this college’ but at Benedictine College, Mary chose them to be here to be educated within a community of faith and scholarship.”
Minnis said, “Part of my devotion to Our Lady comes from my wife, Amy, who challenged me when we got married to pray the rosary every day,” s
Catholic Vote listed two social media sensations regarding President Minnis and the rosary.
One was a photo of him praying that Shalom news reported “went viral.” Another was a social media video taken of him climbing into the school’s dumpster.
Minnis explained: “I had my rosary in my hand while throwing a bag of trash into the dumpster; the trash bag caught the crucifix on my rosary, and it popped it off almost in slow motion.” It went into the dumpster. “Of course, I needed to rescue the crucifix, so I jumped in the dumpster, found the crucifix, and jumped out. Unbeknownst to me, people in the library were watching and filming me do this. So of course it was sent on social media, and so I became the dumpster-diving president.”
Catholic vote quoted a sophomore, Henry Kemme of Effingham, Ill., saying: “President Minnis provides a great example of servant leadership through leading students in the weekly rosary. He is a great model of holiness and what it means to be a Christian leader.”
That was the point of the consecration and the rest of the devotion, said Minnis, “If I can be an example to them, and especially to the young men at the school, that having a devotion to Our Lady is powerful and important, then I will be happy.”