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Two groups of Raven missionaries spent last Spring Break about the same distance from the Equator but 6,000 miles apart.
“I have never in my life experienced something that made me feel so whole,” said one student.
More than a third of students from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, go on the college’s mission trips that send them to four continents — a far higher proportion of the student body than at other leading Catholic universities such as Notre Dame.
Benedictine College’s 21 mission trips per year include domestic trips as well as trips to eight countries on four continents.
Katie, class of 2022 at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, was one of the students who spent their Mission Trip in the South American country of Suriname.
“Throughout the week, I was able to immerse myself in prayer while setting an example for the young girls we were serving,” she said.
The college students tried to help the girls understand “how to love themselves, love each other and love God. The friendships I developed with these young girls are friendships I will hold onto forever.
She called the mission trip “the perfect combination of passion and purpose” that left her “exhausted but joyful and blessed beyond measure.”
Benedictine College Mission and Ministry is working to provide every student the opportunity to go on a mission trip during their time in college. Benedictine College is the birthplace of FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students and the Hunger Coalition, in which hundreds of students skip a meal on Wednesday to pay for lunches that they deliver to local families. Through Benedictine College’s Service Learning Office and other programs, students also serve throughout the Kansas City area.
But they also go many miles away.
Marielle, a class of 2020 nursing student at Benedictine College, said her trip to Uganda did as much for the missionaries as those they were visiting.
“To describe the life in this little African village,” said Marielle, “I would use the words joy in simplicity. Even in having very little, everyone was fully satisfied and ready to share their joy.”
“Immediately arriving in the village and being welcomed by the people, I was overwhelmed by their gratitude and loving acceptance of us,” she said. “The children at the school we were helping at ran to us immediately with open arms, excited simply just to love.”
This raised some import questions for the missionaries.
“Why were they so happy? What caused such joy in the hearts of this community? The answer was simple: They were a family that was centered in trusting in the Lord and in his Providence.”
Even in the early days of the worldwide pandemic, Marielle said, “It was so encouraging to see how much their community trusted joyfully and fearlessly in the Lord no matter what. It is something I’ve been able to take home with me and apply to my life here.”
Benedictine College promotes both the sacraments and service on campus, with three Masses daily, 29 weekly opportunities for confession and Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. Seven 21st century bishops are Benedictine College graduates, as well as many religious superiors and vocations directors. The college recently added a Catechesis and Evangelization major and many graduates serve as missionaries or enter the seminary or religious life after leaving Benedictine.