A Message of Hope from President Stephen D. Minnis | Benedictine College

A Message of Hope from President Minnis

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Dear Benedictine Community,

Benedictine College President Stephen D. MinnisI have said it before, but it is more important than ever to say it right now: It’s a great time to be a Raven.

I know Benedictine College has sent out a lot of information about plans we have in place to keep students, staff and faculty safe in the coming year. I appreciate all those who have written grateful notes about all we are doing. But I also appreciate those who shared their frustration and asked: “What will life be like at Benedictine College this year?”

I share that frustration, but I also want to ensure everybody of one thing I am absolutely certain of: Fall 2020 at Benedictine College will be awesome. In fact, I think that Fall 2020 will make a bigger impact on students’ lives than ever before. Our mission is to educate students within a community of faith and scholarship, and that mission is needed more than ever right now.

Community. Human beings are hard-wired for community. This time of Covid-19, with the lockdown followed by restrictions, has struck at the heart of what it means to be human. We need each other, for our emotional, mental and even our physical health.

The plan we have in place is meant to encourage community — from the Dining Hall’s new hours, open continuously every weekday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., to the full program of activities being planned in the residence halls and across campus. Our enrollment is strong, so students will see their friends who are returning, too.

Faith. In many of the places where our students live, the sacraments have been unavailable or severely restricted since March. This is tragic. Our faith life is at the core of our personal identity. If we do not worship God, we will find ourselves worshiping false gods — gods of pleasure, money or pride.

Benedictine College is preparing to give students the faith opportunities that are so critical by adding  opportunities to receive the sacraments, including two new fulltime priests serving in the Ministry office, additional Mass times, and new confession times downstairs in the Abbey Church that allow for social distancing and anonymity.

Scholarship. As we all discovered last Spring, there is no substitute for learning in a classroom, face to face, not through a computer screen. Students learn best in the presence of their professors and in community with their peers, so we will do whatever it takes to make that possible.

This is why 95% of our classes this semester will be offered in person. That will mean extra cleaning to make sure our academic spaces are disinfected. It will mean wearing masks and keeping some distance. But it will mean we can learn together, in the best way available.

I know the mitigation rules are detailed and frustrating, but for most students, the Raven Safety Plan really boils down to: Wash your hands and watch your symptoms, and “Cover your face and leave some space,”  to quote the “Protect the Flock” signs all over campus.

That’s it. Doing these simple things is what allows us to deliver our mission to students this semester when it is most needed.

I have full confidence that we will do this, because our students are special people. We have their families to thank for that. Ravens look out for each other, and they see difficulties as a call to serve and a call to build.

It is exciting to be alive at this time when we can see the resourcefulness of our community as it meets a new challenge with imagination and determination, thanks to the intercession of St. Benedict, St. Scholastica, and Our Lady. Thanks to you, Ravens Will Rise.

Forward, Always Forward,

Stephen D. Minnis
President, Benedictine College