Benedictine College Welcomes a New Academic Year

  • Thursday, September 05, 2013

On Tuesday, September 3, 2013, Benedictine College celebrated the start of another record-setting academic year with a formal All School Mass in St. Benedict’s Abbey Church, followed by an Opening Convocation in the Ralph Nolan Gymnasium. Abbot James Albers, OSB, was the celebrant at the Mass and Fr. Pat York, a legacy from Benedictine’s Class of ’84 and current Pastor of the Church of the Magdalen in Wichita, Kan., delivered the homily.  The annual Convocation signals the end of “Beanie Week” at the college and features faculty recognitions as well as a keynote speaker.  This year, New York Times best-selling author Thomas E. Woods, Jr. addressed the gathering with a presentation on “The Catholic Church Nobody Knows.”

Sister Barbara Smith, vocations director at Mount St. Scholastica Monastery, opened the Convocation with an invocation.  Dr. Kimberly Shankman, dean of the college, explained that “convocation” is from Latin and means a calling together.  She said it is a formal academic gathering of the whole college.  The dean also introduced Dr. Sean Teets, a new faculty member in the Music Department, who sang “All Good Gifts” from Godspell with the accompaniment of Dr. Ruth Krusemark on piano. 

President of Benedictine College Stephen D. Minnis then addressed the crowd and recognized students who had made the spring President’s and Dean’s Lists as well as a myriad of faculty accomplishments from earning patents to publishing books.  He also recognized those on the faculty who had been named in the top 10% of faculty in the country.  He offered a special recognition to Benedictine junior Katherine Bauman, who had offered the first reading in front of Pope Francis and 3 million attendees at a Papal Mass in Rio de Janiero during this summer’s World Youth Day.

“Katherine, you made us all proud to be Ravens,” he told her.

Woods, creator of the Liberty Classroom, a website which features history and economics lectures and discussion boards, is a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard University and a Master’s and Ph.D. from Columbia University.  He has appeared numerous television networks, like CNBC, MSNBC, FOX News Channel, and Bloomberg Television, among others, and a guest on hundreds of radio programs.  He is the author of eleven books. His critically acclaimed 2004 book The Church Confronts Modernity was recently released in paperback by Columbia University Press.


Woods’ writing has appeared in dozens of popular and scholarly periodicals, including the American Historical ReviewChristian Science MonitorCatholic Historical ReviewModern Age, and Religion & Liberty.  In 2006, he won first prize in the prestigious Templeton Enterprise Award, given by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the Templeton Foundation, for his book The Church and the Market. He was the recipient of the 2004 O.P. Alford III Prize for Libertarian Scholarship and of an Olive W. Garvey Fellowship from the Independent Institute in 2003. He has also been awarded two Humane Studies Fellowships and a Claude R. Lambe Fellowship from the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University and a Richard M. Weaver Fellowship from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.


In his speech, Woods discussed the important contributions of the Catholic Church to western civilization and encouraged students to embrace authentic Catholicism.  He told them they had made an excellent decision by choosing a college like Benedictine.

“You have the opportunity to learn truths that elude some people their whole lives,” he said.  “And you can learn them under the auspices of some fantastic faculty that are deeply devoted to the whole person that is you.”

“Learn everything you can. Represent the Church well in your profession, but also as an ambassador of the Church Herself,” he concluded.  “Let the beauty of the Catholic faith shine forth in your work, in your speech and in your love.  And then, with St. Paul, you’ll be able to say that you have fought the good fight and finished the race.”

Following the keynote address, the freshman class was welcomed into the community of Ravens and removed their beanies.  The practice of freshmen wearing beanies dates back generations and Benedictine College may be the only college in America that still observes the tradition.

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.