Benedictine College Park Remembers Students Who Died

College enthrones Sacred Heart Statue by premiere Kansas City Sculptor

Published: Monday, October 31, 2016

On Oct. 30, 2016, families of students who died while attending Benedictine College joined monks, sisters, board members, administrators, faculty, staff and students of the college to dedicate a new park in the center of campus to their memory.

At the ceremony remembering the 65 students who have died in the college’s 158-year history (more information here), a new statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was enthroned in the center of the new Raven Memorial Park (2016 campus improvements, here).

“We finally have an appropriate place to remember your loved ones,” President Stephen D. Minnis told families and friends of the deceased. “Raven Memorial Park will remind us about their lives and let their families know and our current students know that we don’t forget our Raven Family.”

A plaque placed at the entrance to the park describes the space: “This park includes benches and the Memorial to the Unborn, dedicated by Ravens Respect Life for those Ravens Who Might Have Been. The waterfall in this park, built in the Year of Mercy, reminds us of the life-giving waters of Baptism, and recalls the crystal stream of heaven, where we hope to rest with the Lord. The stone steps to Mary’s Grotto remind us of the climb to reach Mary’s heavenly home.”

The day began with a memorial Mass at St. Benedict’s Abbey Church on campus for those students who died while attending Benedictine College. Families of the deceased processed with candles as their loved ones’ names were read. “May we always tell their story as part of a greater story told by God,” said Abbot James Albers in his homily.

A procession to Raven Memorial Park followed Mass. Current students, chosen to represent the students who had died, placed each student’s candle at the statue of the Sacred Heart. Families received flowers to place before a plaque bearing their loved ones’ names.

Enthronement of the Sacred Heart

The new Sacred Heart of Jesus statue, donated by Rich and Cindy Dickason, was unveiled and enthroned at the event.

“This is one of the most important gatherings of our lives since the Enthronement brings countless blessings to individuals, families, and all of our undertakings,” said President Minnis. “By the Enthronement we proclaim Jesus as King who rules over us through love. But he is more like a Father than a ruler. He becomes our generous provider, our friend, our guide, our counselor, our spiritual physician, and our constant companion on the journey.”

Bronze sculptor E. Spencer Schubert of Kansas City, Mo., created the sculpture. His work includes well-known statues in the Royals Baseball Hall of Fame, Kansas State University and the State of Missouri.

Schubert modeled the face of Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue after the image on the Shroud of Turin. Fourteen folds in Jesus’ robe represent the Stations of the Cross; three folds in the center represent the Trinity.

As part of the enthronement ceremony, Sister Anne Shepard, OSB, prioress of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, said, “When Benedictine College, its families, faculty, associates and benefactors are faced with tragedy of any kind, even death, we shall be comforted to know that the day will come when, as St. Benedict says, God will bring us all together to everlasting life.”

Abbot James Albers blessed the park, enthroned the statue, and consecrated the college to the Blessed Virgin Mary saying, “As part of the enthronement, our Holy Father has urged all to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

The abbot, prioress and president signed an “Act of Enthronement of Benedictine college to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” which said:

“Lord Jesus, today, October 30, 2016, we the students, faculty, staff and administrators of Benedictine College have lovingly enthroned you as Lord and friend of our ‘school in the Lord’s service.’ Preferring nothing whatsoever to Christ, we freely make a covenant of love with you, dedicating ourselves faithfully to your Sacred Heart. We entrust the fulfillment of our covenant to the Immaculate Heart of your mother and to St. Joseph, head of the Holy Family and our protector. We promise to do our best to honor your Sacred Heart through regular reception of the sacraments, prayer and sacrifice.

“We hereby witness and attest that on this thirtieth day of October in the Year of Our Lord two thousand and sixteen, Benedictine College is enthroned to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, where Christ is loved above all and where all are welcomed as Christ.”

President Minnis said, “For the past decade, memorial gifts to the college have gone to this park, but the project could not have been completed without the generosity of significant donors.”

He specially mentioned Mike Ismert of Kansas City, whose gift memorializes his wife, Mary Therese Ismert, who passed away in 2012, as well as Martin E. Ismert, Lawrence B. Byrne, Rose Marie Byrne and Lawrence A. Byrne. Other major donors included Emmett and Mary Jo Tangeman, from Falls City, Nebraska. The Dickasons’ gift to the park memorializes their son, Dr. Richard R. Dickason, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.

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.