Raven Frees Kids From Toxic Culture

The Gregorian Fellows Leadership Program at Benedictine College promotes Catholic identity in public life by forming a new generation of leaders who unite faith and reason in their work. On Fellows Fridays, the Gregorian Institute will introduce you to some of these extraordinary students.

Emily Harpole (pictured, far right), a 2019 Benedictine College graduate from Denver, Colo., was a Gregorian Fellow. This year she is serving with the Culture Project.

“As a missionary with The Culture Project, I spend most of my days going into middle school and high school classrooms to speak to students about human dignity, sexual integrity, and using social media in a virtuous way,” Harpole said.

The Culture Project is dedicated to reaching real young people and helping them deal with the real problems they face today:

The organization’s website demonstrates how “real” it gets:

“A sext sent on a whim. An eating disorder that escalates into a hospital visit. A hookup with someone that’s not even lunch date material. A secret abortion to save a college career.  A sex addiction to escape the emptiness of everyday life. … The need is urgent. Today, more than ever, young people long to know there is more to the human story.”

Harpole said Culture Project missionaries commit to living in community to learn together to practice what they preach, practicing charity toward one another, and sharing an intentional prayer life that includes daily Mass and a daily Eucharistic holy hour.

“As missionaries we want to be an example of virtue for the students, showing them that we are just a few years older than them, and we are trying to live out virtue in a culture that often makes us think it’s not possible to do so.”

Harpole met the Culture Project on a Benedictine College trip to a FOCUS conference.

“I felt drawn to their booth for a few days, and when I finally went up to meet them, I was incredibly moved by their mission,” she said. “It was from that moment that I knew I wanted to be a missionary.”

She stayed in touch. Ups and downs followed, but “I felt the Lord calling me to radically give a year of my life to Him by being a missionary,“ she said.

She is glad she did it. She is astounded at “how few students, and anyone in general, know they are loved, have worth and dignity, and are an unrepeatable gift to this world. Too many young people today have never been told this truth; that they have infinite worth and potential, and that they deserve to both give and receive authentic, self-sacrificial love.”

She didn’t expect students to have never heard this. Many haven’t. “It is such a gift to remind young people who they are and what they deserve in their relationships,” Harpole said.

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.