Benedictine Honors Notable Alumni during Annual Reunion | Benedictine College

Benedictine Honors Notable Alumni during Annual Reunion

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

During the annual Alumni Reunion Weekend at Benedictine College (watch video highlights here), the school honored two prominent alumni with the annual Benet Awards, which date back to the college’s founding institutions, and honored one outstanding alumna who was a Nobel Peace Laureate.

A special dedication on Saturday, June 14, saw the placement of a statue of the late Wangari Maathai, a 1964 graduate of Mount St. Scholastica College, now Benedictine College, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. In 1977, after conducting research that linked problems within the Kenyan economy and society to deforestation, she founded the Green Belt Movement. The group has planted more than 40 million trees in the last 30 years and has brought environmental issues into the realm of world politics.  Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote democracy, peace and sustainable development and is the first Peace Prize winner to have an environmental focus.  She was the only Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to graduate from a U.S. Catholic college. The dedication took place with her classmates in attendance for their 50th reunion and included the return of her Kenyan classmate and fellow Green Belt Movement worker, Agatha Wangeci Kahara. Read more about the statue dedication here.

Later that night, the Alumni Reunion Banquet featured the presentations of the Benet Awards. Anita McSorley received the 2014 Offeramus Medal and Chuck Raplinger received the 2014 Kansas Monk Award.  Mount St. Scholastica College, which joined with St. Benedict’s College in 1971 to form Benedictine College, established the Offeramus Medal in 1957 for alumnae who had distinguished themselves in their profession, showed a prominence of service to the civic community, demonstrated outstanding loyalty to the alma mater, and reflected honor on the college through family and social life.  In 1960, St. Benedict’s established the corresponding Kansas Monk Award for its graduates.


The prioress of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery, Sister Anne Shepard, OSB, introduced McSorley.  She used a wide array of quotes from many of McSorley’s family members, friends and coworkers, including Archbishop Joseph Naumann.

McSorley grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and graduated from Bishop Ward High School before heading to Atchison and Benedictine College.  She graduated summa cum laude from Benedictine in 1979 with a double major in History and Philosophy and a minor in English. During graduate studies in history at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, an apprenticeship with the William and Mary Quarterly fostered an interest in editing. The following year, she accepted a position on the faculty of Dartmouth College as the assistant editor of “The Papers of Daniel Webster, Diplomatic Papers, Vol. 1,” which were published in 1983.

From there, McSorley went on to hold positions in the public relations departments of Texaco, Inc., and The Rockefeller Group before returning to Kansas City in 1985. She became associate editor of The Leaven in 1988. During her tenure at The Leaven, the archdiocesan weekly has won scores of national writing, photography and design awards, with particular success in pro-life and mission coverage. She considers her life’s work the telling of the faith stories of the people of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the fostering of the careers and vocations of the many people she’s mentored over the years. Anita and her husband, Pierre Majeau, have three children, Colleen, Joseph, and Bridget, and live in Kansas City, Kan., where they are longtime members of St. Patrick Parish.

During her acceptance speech, McSorley said she had been doubly-blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know her parents as well as many of the monks and sisters who had taught her as individuals and not just in the role of parent or teacher. She said getting to know these people as an adult helped form her even more.

“As Benedictine Ravens, we are not only the products of a great college, ours is also the heritage of an ancient tradition,” she said. “The tradition of the Benedictine men and women who built it and staffed it and whose fidelity to the gospel imbue it to this day.”

Raplinger was introduced by Abbot James Albers, OSB, of St. Benedict's Abbey, who noted that the award was not for business success, but for Raplinger’s charitable work, from which he tends to deflect attention, and his life which is focused on family and friends.

Raplinger graduated from Benedictine College in 1974 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting.  He worked in the accounting department at UMB of Kansas City before moving to UMB’s Bond Investment Division where he was a Government Trader for nine years.  In 1985, he joined Country Club Bank in Kansas City, Missouri, as a vice president and is currently executive vice president in charge of their Capital Markets Group.

He has been deeply involved with nonprofits throughout his life and is currently working with Friends of St Benedict's Abbey and Special Olympics in the tennis program.  He has also regularly helped those in need during times of crisis, volunteering with the National Relief Network in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Katrina and working with AmeriCorps following the Joplin Tornado.

Benedictine connections run deep in the Raplinger household.  Chuck’s wife, Marty (Latz) is a 1976 graduate and four of their five children have graduated from Benedictine College as well.  The Raplingers are longtime members of St. Joseph's Parish, Shawnee, Kan.

“We are formed by those who love us,” Raplinger said in his acceptance speech.  “Tonight is about saying thank you to those people.”

He went on to thank friends and family, offering special comments to his wife and kids and even his boss at Country Club Bank, Byron Thompson.

More than 400 graduates from as far back as 1954 returned to the Benedictine campus over June 13, 14, and 15 for the annual Alumni Reunion Weekend.  Many attendees brought spouses, children, and even grandchildren along to enjoy the camaraderie and festivities.

The reminiscing got underway Friday evening with the anniversary gatherings of each class, including the golden 50th anniversary of the St. Benedict’s College and Mount St. Scholastica College alumni of 1964.  The groups enjoyed dinner and storytelling and then everyone gathered on the Academic Quad where they were entertained by a live band into the night.

In addition to the Maathai statue dedication, Saturday was filled with many other reunion events, including the All-Alumni Barbeque, the traditional ice cream social at the Mount and a wine and cheese tasting. The celebrations culminated in the annual All-Alumni Reunion Banquet that evening.

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.