Pandemic? Polar Vortex? Bring It On, Says a Newly Resilient Generation

The painful realities of 2020 and the winter of 2021 have made a new class of students remarkably tough in the face of challenges — and smart institutions are keeping up with them.

That’s what recent media attention given to Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, is saying.

“The big thing I’ve noticed about the incoming freshman class is that they are rather resilient,” Becca Caudle (pictured), director of undergraduate admission at Benedictine, told The Leaven newspaper. “Many of the essays have been about the real struggles they’ve faced and other ways they’ve been creative in their journey.”

She said some students lost part-time jobs and athletic and other opportunities, and had to find new ways to raise money and prove themselves to colleges.

Now all that is left is for other institutions to imitate Benedictine, said the editors of the St. Joseph News-Press.

In “Still Waiting for a Perfect Day,” a Feb. 18 editorial, the St. Joseph, Mo., daily paper recognized that there are good reasons for schools to stay closed in the face of a pandemic and a polar vortex.

“The reasons for waiting are all good ones. Fear of getting sick. Fear of endangering others. Dangerous road conditions. Dangerous cold,” it said. But “Benedictine deserves some credit for saying, ‘enough’” and committing to its mission despite the reasons not to, it said.

That mission — community, faith and scholarship — is even more important in today’s circumstances, Benedictine Chaplain Father Simon Baker told the college’s student newspaper, The Circuit.

“I believe that the distance from the Mass that so many students have experienced in their home dioceses for so long has made them more desirous of attending Masses when they are offered. You begin to value what you have lost so that when it’s offered again you take full advantage of it,” he is quoted saying.

To match the desire, the college had to step up its game, he said, offering six additional daily and Sunday Mass times.

“The only way that we could ensure that all students had access to the celebration of the Eucharist on a regular/daily basis was to add more Masses and move the location to the upstairs Abbey Church,” Father Simon told Circuit reporter McKenna Elder. “Since the Mass is the singularly most important event in a person’s faith life, the Source and Summit of our faith, we wanted to make sure that was remedied for them at least while on campus.”

Featured photo courtesy The Leaven.

Benedictine College

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 is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.