Benedictine College Entrusted to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Consecration Held Sept. 8
- Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Marian Hymns, Memorare prayers and the Rosary reverberated across the Benedictine College campus in Atchison, Kan., on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8. A beautiful processional ceremony was laid out by the college and more than 1,100 people from as far away as Virginia took part in the service, which included Mass and invocations at numerous Marian images. The event culminated with the blessing of a 21-foot-tall Our Lady of Grace fountain and the consecration of the college to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“Thank you for being here on this historic day,” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis during the ceremony. “Benedictine College is a chosen place with a special mission. Chosen by the Blessed Virgin Mary to be at this place at this time and to be in the unique situation to now publicly acknowledge the Her unique role in founding and preserving this school of the Lord's service.”
He went on to tell the story of the college’s founder, Fr. Henry Lemke, OSB, who was lost in a winter storm in Kansas in 1856 and prayed to the Virgin Mary to save him. Immediately, a lantern appeared in a window in the distance, guiding him to safety. He learned that a child had been awakened by a mysterious woman dressed in white, and her mother had put the lantern in the window. Fr. Lemke called this “a miracle of the Mother of God.” Two years after Mary saved Fr. Henry's life, the college was founded.
President Minnis mentioned the Memorare Armies that had prayed for various intentions and talked about the latest group formed through Benedictine College’s Gregorian Institute.
“Now, over 3 million Memorares are being prayed for religious liberty in America,” he said to applause.
Students, led by sacristan Ryan Bax, were heavily involved in the day’s events:
- Positioned throughout the procession and connected by headsets, football captain Brad Lorang and three team members led the Rosary.
- The Knights of the Mystic Rose were in charge of supplying 17 servers and eight men to carry the bier with the statue of Our Lady, Queen of Heaven.
- Students involved in the college’s chapter of the Legion of Mary led the procession.
- The student Memorare Choir performed Marian Hymns as the crowd filled the quad.
The Abbot blessed a large number of religious items that had been brought by attendees and sent by religious orders and societies dedicated to the Virgin Mary. He also blessed the new 21-foot-tall fountain statue of Our Lady of Grace, a replica of the statue that stood in the same location outside St. Benedict Hall in 1912.
“The original iron statue was donated by Thomas Walker, the President of Atchison Savings Bank,” Minnis explained. “The statue fell once in 1953, but was restored. And then in March, 1977, it fell once more, breaking it for good. All that remains is a middle piece with the pelicans on it and the identification plate, both of which are here today.”
Pictures of the original statue were sent to the sculptor so it could be reproduced.
“We are proud to bring this history and legacy back to the quad,” he said.
Abbot James blessed the new statue. Before the prayer, he said, “Under the title Our Lady of Grace, this image will remind us of the close ties of Mary to Christ and his Church.”
After the blessing, he began the Consecration Prayer. Fr. Brendan Rolling, OSB, then offered the Litany of Mary at Benedictine College.
The Abbot concluded the Consecration with:
“Holy Mary, we have consecrated Benedictine College to Jesus through you. Help us live this consecration by following your son more closely each day. May we be quick to follow God’s will, recognize Christ in others and bring him into the lives of those we meet. May we do whatever he tells us. Our Lord Jesus Christ told us that we are the light of the world. Through your intercession, may he make this so.”
Those with Marian names then had the opportunity to place rose petals in the pool of the fountain as Katie Lind, a Benedictine junior, sung “Ave Maria.”
President Minnis concluded the ceremony by paraphrasing the Proclamation of the Consecration,
“Ladies and Gentlemen, from this day let it be known that Benedictine College is hereby consecrated to Jesus through Mary. This “school for the Lord’s service” now belongs to you, Mary, Mother of God.”
At that point, the water began to flow in the fountain as fireworks went off above and confetti canons filled the air with glittering gold confetti.
“During the Consecration, there seemed to be a sincerity in everyone present,” said Andy Green, a Benedictine senior who took part in the official procession is in his role as a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. “There was a noticeable change in the atmosphere on campus. The Consecration was a statement about the values of the College and where it is headed. It was an important event for me to see the place I care so much about formally place importance on a love for God and a love for Mary.”
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.