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JAN. 14, 2013 — Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., is preparing to send six busloads of students to the March for Life, the largest group ever to attend the Washington, D.C., event in the 28-year history of Benedictine’s involvement. Over 300 students, faculty and staff, including Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis, will attend this year’s March on January 25. Also attending the March will be the new Abbot of St. Benedict’s Abbey, Abbot James Albers, OSB, who was among some of the first Benedictine College groups to travel to the March when he was in school.
“I organized the trip my sophomore year; we usually went with Kansans for Life,” said Abbot Albers, who graduated from Benedictine College in 1994 with degrees in Theology and Mass Communications. “Back then, 15 to 20 students going was a good number.”
In addition to attending the March, Benedictine College staff and the Ravens Respect Life group have organized an expanded program, complete with a Mass at St. Peter’s Church in Washington, a Rosary in front of the Supreme Court building, a gathering and Mass with other groups from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, and a gathering in the Senate Building after the March arranged by Benedictine alumnus Terry Gainer, the U.S. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms.
“Benedictine College has the largest group attending from the greatest distance away,” said Minnis, who has attended the March since he became Benedictine’s president in 2004. “Over 17 percent of our student body is willing to take a 48-hour round trip bus ride in support of life. We’re proud of that.”
The trip to the March first started with Benedictine students who were interacting with the Kansans for Life organization. The school’s Knights of Columbus chapter took the lead and was a major promoter of the event. The first few years saw a handful of students go, but the numbers began to grow. In 1989, students at Benedictine College became so focused on right to life issues that they formed the Ravens Respect Life organization, using the name of the Benedictine College mascot.
“This is an important mission for us,” said Michael Green, this year’s March for Life Coordinator for Ravens Respect Life. “We don’t go just because it’s some fun trip with our friends. We go to show the leaders of our country what we stand for; that is, the dignity of all people from conception to natural death.”
In 2009, the Benedictine College presence attracted the attention of documentary film makers, who then featured Benedictine students in their film. “Thine Eyes: A Witness to the March for Life” was shot on location by a six-camera crew to share the spirit of the annual March. It has now been seen on national television on EWTN and in theaters across the country.
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.