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The Benedictine mission of community, faith and scholarship transformed culture in Europe at the dawn of Western Civilization and Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, believes it can do the same in America today. To Transform Culture in America, Benedictine College plans to Form its students deeply in the mission, Advance its mission through alumni in every walk of life, and Extend its mission regionally and nationally.
“The mission of beauty is important, is from the Lord, and is growing,” says a student who just interned in one of the leading sacred art studios in America.
Ashley Collier, of Lake St. Louis, Mo., is a junior art major at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and has been involved in Benedictine’s Center for Beauty and Culture.
Her summer internship was with Ruth Stricklin at New Jerusalem Studios in Phoenix.
Ruth, a mural artist and designer, and her husband Geoff, a graduate of the Liturgical Institute in Mundelein, Ill., formed New Jerusalem Studios in 2014 in response to a growing commitment to authentic liturgical renewal in the Catholic community, as many parishes bring a traditional sense of beauty back into their sacred spaces.
“Ashley is learning real artistic and professional and theological skills,” he said. The mural expresses the theology of liturgical and architectural expression that he has been teaching throughout his career.
“I see this as Benedictine College really transforming culture in America, and helping a student learn how to do so,” McNamara added. “Many people will ponder and pray when this mural gets installed.”
“This summer has been a huge gift and fulfillment to many desires, passions, and prayers of mine,” Collier said.
“I am so grateful that now God has provided this beautiful opportunity to help in sacred art, pick Ruth’s brain, learn from Ruth and Geoff both — and to walk into a studio every day where there was an atmosphere of prayer and the disposition to be a humble servant to the Divine Artist,” said Collier.
Collier said the summer’s work fit perfectly with what she had been learning from McNamara.
The New Jerusalem Studios website explains, “Because the Stricklins understand sacred art as a gateway to a sacramental encounter with Christ, their work is not primarily about selling a product, but rather, helping people to experience Christ’s loving and transforming presence in the Mass.”
“I am so proud of the projects Ruth and Geoff are working on,“ said Collier. She described their work as “their fiat to God — and always their openness to learn and to improve in their craft every day.“