49th Annual Scholarship Ball is another Million-Dollar Night | Benedictine College

Records Fall at Benedictine’s Ball

Annual Scholarship Ball is another Million-Dollar Night

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

President Stephen Minnis presents Archbishop Joseph Naumann with the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict.With an NBA-style opening line-up and an impressive set of featured students, both on stage and in videos, the energy level was high at the 49th Annual Benedictine College Scholarship Ball on February 29. The college honored Archbishop Joseph Naumann with the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict and for the third year in a row, the event brought in more than a million dollars. A few weeks before the Ball, The Independent magazine named the Scholarship Ball as a Top 10 Philanthropic Event in Kansas City. This year, the event set records in attendance at nearly 900, Fund-A-Raven donations at over $540,000, and overall fundraising at $1,125,000.

The successful event was cochaired by Lené Westerman ’85 and Kevin’79 and Colleen (McGraw) ’81 O’Malley. The night was dedicated to Kevin’s father, the late Frank O’Malley, alumnus, former board member, and major donor to the college.

“Frank played football at good old St. Benedict’s and never lost his love for the sport or for his alma mater,” said John Holt, anchor at Fox4 TV in Kansas City and the evening’s master of ceremonies. “He passed away in December, but his family is with us tonight and his spirit, as always, fills the room.”

Senior biology and pre-med majors JohnPaul Stedwill and Gabriel LeBeau gave an impressive testimony to the education and friendships built at Benedictine College. The two best friends created a men’s group on campus, have pushed each other academically, and completed a medical mission trip to a small village in Ghana. They will both be going to medical school following graduation in May.

“Our friendship has helped me realize that true greatness is not about prestige or worldly success. Fulfillment is about using the gifts God has given you towards the service of others,” said LeBeau. “JP and I have been blessed with many gifts because of the scholarships we have received from generous donors. Gifts such as these have empowered us to dream big and pursue lofty goals.”

President of Benedictine College Stephen D. Minnis told the audience about the success of Benedictine College in all aspects. He celebrated the Women’s Lacrosse Team who won the conference and went all the way to the NAIA National Championship game. He also told of the college’s Chemical Engineering Team who defeated major colleges like Nebraska, Iowa, Iowa State, and Kansas State in the regional American Institute of Chemical Engineers academic competition. The team landed in the national tournament against MIT. Finally, he brought the Benedictine 2020 strategic plan to a close, noting the overwhelming success over the last 10 years with new academic programs, new buildings, expanded faculty, and national recognition as a Top 10 school in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of the best Catholic colleges in America by the Cardinal Newman Society.

Transforming culture in America will be done by forming our students in the college’s mission of community, faith and scholarship like JP and Gabe and other students,” Minnis said as he introduced the theme for the next strategic plan. “The plan will advance the mission by placing our alums in positions of influence in their careers, neighborhoods, and churches. And culture will be transformed by extending our mission beyond our borders with projects we have already developed.”

“For a Catholic college faithful to Jesus Christ, transforming culture is not just possible, it is a mandate,” he said. “For a U.S. college faithful to America’s founding principles, transforming culture is a patriotic duty. And for a Benedictine College, faithful to the Rule of St. Benedict, transforming culture is in our DNA. This is a big idea and a big vision. Everyone agrees this must be done, but no one is doing it. So we will do it!”

The presentation of the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict was a highlight of the evening, and the Archbishop’s acceptance speech was both entertaining and inspiring.

“In an era when sadly many Catholic colleges have closed and others have lost their Catholic character, Benedictine College stands out for its unabashedly Catholic culture and spiritual life, high academic standards, beautiful campus and a warm and vibrant experience of student life,” he said.

“Benedictine is truly a place where faith and reason are partners in pursuing the truth,” he said, calling the college “a shining example of what is possible when a Catholic higher education institution embraces the vision articulated by the late pope St. John Paul II and Ex Corde Ecclesiae.”

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.

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