Benedictine College Commencement 2014

Benedictine College Commencement 2014

Monday, May 19, 2014

Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., held its 43rd Annual Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 17, 2014, in the Ralph Nolan Gymnasium on the Atchison campus. This year, 212 candidates received their undergraduate degrees.  Preceding the ceremony on Friday, May 16, were the Nurse’s Pinning Ceremony, the Engineering School reception, and the Baccalaureate Mass, which was held in St. Benedict’s Abbey Church and featured Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas as celebrant and homilist.

Helen Alvaré, Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law and a nationally-recognized speaker on women and the family for the Vatican, delivered the Commencement Address.  She and Dr. Paul Camarata, associate professor and chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City, Kan., received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees.

Alvaré publishes on matters concerning marriage, parenting, non-marital households, abortion and the First Amendment religion clauses. She cooperates with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations as a speaker and a delegate to various United Nations conferences concerning women and the family. She reminded the graduates that their gifts and talent should be put to use in the service of others.

“So if I can help move you one inch further or five minutes faster toward grasping what your parents and grandparents already understand, that your gifts and capacities are for giving, that THEN you’re really living, THEN you’re free and happy, I will have served you well,” she said.

In regard to her experiences in debating and even defending Catholic teachings about respect for life, women, marriage and religious freedom, she gave the graduates some advice on how to make the case.

“I think we are MOST persuasive regarding religious freedom when we are manifestly the kind of people, the kind of religious community, whose ideas and behaviors are what society WANTS more of,” Alvaré said.

“When we demonstrate real love, real solidarity with other human beings, compassion for the suffering, an option for the poor, and a continual search for truth…when we, as Pope Francis says, have dirt on our shoes because we have gone to the outskirts to care for other people…when our church, that is you and me, is manifestly a field hospital on the front lines of the suffering of the world, THEN when we assert that we, and other religious actors, require the full measure of religious freedom, our argument on this matter is immeasurably strengthened.”

“We should never shirk, in other words, from talking about, from manifesting, what our religious freedom is FOR, how this freedom benefits all of society, versus simply demanding our bare constitutional and statutory rights,” she concluded.

The program included an address from the class valedictorian, Emily Rose Carter of David City, Neb. Carter graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA with degrees in Spanish and International Studies.  She offered some memories, words of hope and a prayer for her classmates.

“Fellow graduates, I hope that wherever your paths go from here, you meet with success and hold fast to the values that this institution is founded upon,” she said.

During the ceremony, Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis recognized two student leaders with the Fran Jabara Leadership Award.  The annual award recognizes graduating seniors who display exemplary leadership skills and is given to specially selected seniors at all private Kansas colleges.  The honor indicates the high level of ability the recipients have displayed as well as the respect with which their peers and teachers view them.  The two honorees this year were Michela Brooks and Ryan Boh.  Brooks was an outstanding resident assistant in the Office of Student Life and was one of the premiere tour guides for the Office of Admission.  She will be a missionary for the St. Paul’s Outreach program in the Kansas City area.  Boh was also a notable resident assistant and was the student responsible for starting lacrosse on the Benedictine campus. He was a leader in the Enactus program in the School of Business and was a Koch Research Fellow.

The president also acknowledged five students who were entering religious life.

“These young men and women will be going to seminary or choosing the religious life with an order of sisters,” Minnis said. “We are proud of them and their service to the Church.”

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 consistently named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report.  It has also been named a Leader in Educational Excellence by Colleges of Distinction as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College and First Things magazine.  Benedictine 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.