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Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., is now adding a record seventh bus for students to attend the March for Life, set for January 25 in Washington, D.C. This will be the largest group to participate from Benedictine College in the school’s 28-year history of involvement. The addition of the 7th bus means that approximately one in every five of the 1700 students on the Benedictine campus will participate in the March.
Also attending the event are Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis, and the new Abbot of St. Benedict’s Abbey, Abbot James Albers, OSB, who was among one of the first Benedictine College groups to travel to the March when he was in school.
The school has organized a get together in the U.S. Senate building after the March arranged by Benedictine alumnus Terry Gainer, the U.S. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms.
That caps off 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.
“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. “Now, about 20 percent of our student body is willing to take that long, 48-hour round trip bus ride in support of life. I am constantly amazed and pleased by our students.”
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.
“I organized the trip my sophomore year; we usually went with Kansans for Life,” said Abbot James, 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 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.
“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.”
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.