2019 Convocation Follow Up

Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Greatness

Common Theme Addressed in Homily and Convocation Speech

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

In 1899, during the Boer War, the exploits of a brash young English war correspondent made him a national hero. In 2019, New York Times best-selling author Candice Millard told the Benedictine College community about the exploits of one of the most famous world leaders in history. Both statements refer to Winston Churchill.

“This is a big day. It’s the beginning of an adventure for you,” Millard told the freshmen and others gathered for the Opening Academic Convocation at Benedictine. “So this morning, I’m going to talk about a young man who was also at the start of an adventure, when he was not much older than you.”

Millard, the keynote speaker for the annual Convocation and the author of three books, including Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill, told the students of the adventures of a 24-year-old Churchill, who was covering the war for an English newspaper, was captured and held as a prisoner of war, escaped, and eventually made it all the way back to his prison camp as a military officer and freed those who were still being held.

“As high as Churchill rose in the political stratosphere, he would never forget his capture, his imprisonment, or his escape from the Boers,” Millard said. “It’s impossible to know, right now, what will lay the foundations of your later life, but I hope that, like Churchill, you have faith in your star and I know that here, at Benedictine, you’re in the perfect place for your adventure to begin.”

Prior to the Convocation, Benedictine celebrated the start of another academic year with a formal All School Mass in St. Benedict’s Abbey Church. This year, Fr. Luke Turner OSB, the newly appointed Director of College Ministry, delivered the homily at the Mass.

“Greatness is not marked by perfection, but by the ability to overcome hardships," he told a packed church. It was a theme well-reflected in Churchill’s life.

The Convocation is a celebration of academics at the school, and President of Benedictine College Stephen D. Minnis praised the faculty for everything they do.

"One of the things that sets Benedictine College apart is our teaching excellence and our faculty’s commitment to loving our students," he said. 

Minnis recognized Dr. Julie Sellers, Associate Professor of World & Classical Languages and Cultures, who was named the Kansas World Language Association’s Teacher of the Year, and Dr. Patrick O’Malley, Associate Professor of Engineering, who was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Award for the American Society of Engineering Education.

Benedictine TartanMinnis also announced something new for the college, a Benedictine Tartan, or plaid. This particular design has been certified to meet the conditions of registration set out in the Scottish Register of Tartans Act.

"This isn’t just any tartan," he said. "The tartan registered for Benedictine College is uniquely us."

He explained the symbolism of the design, noting that the four black boxes represent the four pillars of Benedictine College (Catholic, Benedictine, Liberal Arts, Residential); the three red lines are for the college’s mission of community, faith, and scholarship; the two white lines represent the founding institutions (St. Benedict’s College and Mount St. Scholastica College); and the gold line is a symbol of Our Lady and represents the Consecration of the college to Jesus through her.

At the conclusion of the Convocation, the freshman class was welcomed into the community of Ravens and removed their beanies, which they had worn for the first week of school. The practice of freshmen wearing beanies dates back generations and Benedictine College is one of the few colleges in America that still observes the tradition. This year, the college is celebrating a very large incoming freshman class, with more than 520 beginning freshmen for Fall 2019.

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.