Student Stories: A Sacramental Rhythm

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Rachel Tishkoff: A Sacramental Rhythm

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During my time in college, I have come to have a greater awareness of the power of participating in the sacraments often and the meaning that this has for my spiritual life. Attending Mass throughout the week and going to confession on a regular basis provides a rhythm to my life and keeps me grounded in peace throughout my week. I feel very fortunate to have so many opportunities to participate in the sacraments here on campus. I typically go to daily Mass a few days a week and it is always refreshing to be able to enter into prayer, hear the Word of God, and receive the Eucharist in the middle of my day. It is also a joy to see the familiar faces of classmates, professors, and friends from the community and to know that we are coming before the Lord together. Going to confession and daily Mass has contributed much to my spiritual growth and I am grateful to have Fr. Nick on campus to give us these opportunities. It is also a blessing to be a part of a devoted Catholic community here at Hope and to be able to share in this aspect of living out our faith.

Rachel is a senior from Ann Arbor. She is studying education and plans to student teach in Denver, CO this spring. She hopes to create 'The Great American Catholic Cross-Country Road Trip,' a guidebook highlighting important Catholic sites across the U.S.

The Authority of the Sacred Victim: Why Our Identity Politics Are So Contentious

Thursday, November 21
Winants Auditorium, Graves Hall

On Thursday, November 21, Dr. Molly Brigid McGrath will present a lecture with the title, “The Authority of the Sacred Victim: Why Our Identity Politics Are So Contentious.” The Tocqueville Forum will host the event; the Saint Benedict Institute is a co-sponsor.

There is something sacred about suffering. This helps to explain the rise and intensity of our current fascination with "identity politics." One way we can understand “identity politics” is by noticing the way people talk and the roles they are given when discussing oppressed groups. People in these groups are forced to symbolize their demographic categories, and members of oppressed categories are granted a special status rooted in the sacredness of their groups.  Thus, identity within certain groups gives one a sacred status while those outside are considered profane and even evil if they do not render proper homage to those within.

Understanding the sacred character of the victim in our current identity politics will help us address a number of confusing phenomena in our culture: Why was groundbreaking lesbian tennis champ Martina Navratilova booted by an LGBT athletics group? Why did Jussie Smollett want people to think he’s a hate-crime victim? Why did Rachel Dolezal want people to think she’s black? What type of authority or expertise do trans* activists have when speaking about the nature of sex and gender?

Dr. Molly Brigid McGrath is Director of the Honors Program and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. She focuses on Husserlian phenomenology, Aristotle, social ontology and also enjoys writing philosophical movie reviews.

Courtship, Marriage, and Sex: The What, Where, When, and How


Courtship, Marriage, and Sex: The What, Where, When, and How

Friday November 8, 15, 22
5:00PM - 7:00PM
Herrick Room (Dewitt 2nd Floor)
Students Only

In today's society, there is very little instruction about how to navigate the world of love and romance. In this three-week Saint Benedict Seminar, current students will be given theological and practical wisdom on courtship, marriage, and sex.

Week 1: “What is Courtship?” with Jared and Rhonda Ortiz

Week 2: “Marriage, Sex, and Theology of the Body” with Jack and Melissa Mulder

Week 3: “How We Met and How We Knew We Wanted to Get Married” with Nate and Kellie Dubravec, Josh and Julia Kraut, and Bram and Maggie TenBerge

Participants will receive FREE DINNER. Registration is required. Students Only. Sign up for all or one of the sessions.




The Saint Benedict Institute invites students to participate in three-week seminars about various questions and issues related to the Catholic faith. Led by Catholic professors, professionals, and priests, the purpose of these seminars is to facilitate the intellectual life of students and cultivate friendships on campus. Students meet weekly for a warm meal, a short lecture, and a long discussion in an event that feeds both body and soul.

Stephen Barr: Science and Religion: The Myth of Conflict [PHOTOS + VIDEO]


Science and Religion: The Myth of Conflict

On Thursday, October 24, 2019, we welcomed Prof. Stephen Barr to Hope College for a lecture with the title “Science and Religion: The Myth of Conflict.”

Prof. Barr argued that the supposed conflict between science and religion has really been a conflict between a philosophy called “scientific materialism” and religion and that it is largely based on certain misconceptions about Christian belief, an outdated view of scientific history, and a skewed interpretation of what science has actually discovered about the world. He will first explain certain basic theological ideas, then tell the story of the relation between Christianity and science, including some dramatic facts that are relatively little known, and conclude by discussing several discoveries of twentieth century physics that arguably are more consonant with the traditional religious view of the cosmos and of human beings than with materialist philosophy.


Stephen Barr is Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Delaware. He received his Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics from Princeton University in 1978. His physics research centers mainly on “grand unified theories” and the cosmology of the early universe. Prof. Barr has written extensively and lectured widely on the relation of science and religion. He is the founding president of the Society of Catholic Scientists, an international organization which started in the summer of 2016 and has grown to over 1,000 members in 38 countries. (

This event was co-sponsored by the Corpus Christi Foundation, Campus Ministries, the Offices of Arts and Humanities and Natural and Applied Sciences, and the departments of Geological and Environmental Studies, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Physics, Social Sciences, and Religion.

Restorative Justice Conference: Radical Forgiveness [VIDEO]

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Restorative Justice Conference: Radical Forgiveness

Saturday, October 19, 2019
Cathedral Square Center


The conference originated three years ago, when students of the Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI) program at R. A. Handlon had the idea and the desire to reach out and create a space in which the public could learn about restorative justice practices. Each year, the students have partnered with a community organization who hosts the conference; Calvin University hosted in 2018 and the Saint Benedict Institute on the campus of Hope College hosted in 2017.

The 3rd Annual West Michigan Restorative Justice Conference was again organized by students in the Calvin Prison Initiative program at the R.A. Handlon Correctional facility, with a theme of Radical Forgiveness. Kate Grosmaire, author of Forgiving My Daughter's Killer: A True Story of Loss, Faith, and Unexpected Grace, delivered the keynote address.  Eric Boldiszar, Handlon inmate and Calvin Prison Initiative student, alongside other CPI students, also addressed conference attendees through a pre-recorded presentation.

This one-day FREE conference (registration required) featured a variety of speakers and organizations from the State of Michigan that work in areas of restorative justice and criminal justice reform. The conference was held on October 19, 2019 from 9AM-3PM at Cathedral Square.

Attendees had time to visit booths of local organizations and non-profits, seeing how they contribute to restorative justice efforts in the state.

Our speakers included:
Nate Johnson of Fresh Coast Alliance

Officer Dan Myers of the Grand Rapids Police Department

Angie Sprank of the Michigan Department of Corrections Offender Success program

Kate Grosmaire, author of Forgiving my Daughter's Killer: A True Story of Loss Faith and Unexpected Grace,

Eric Boldiszar, Handlon inmate and Calvin Prison Initiative student, alongside other CPI students, who addressed conference attendees through a pre-recorded presentation

David O'Connor: Perilous Beauty: Tattoos, Redheads, and Tolkien [PHOTOS+VIDEO]


Perilous Beauty: Tattoos, Redheads, and Tolkien

Monday, September 23, 2019
Winants Auditorium, Graves Hall

On Monday, September 23, 2019, the Saint Benedict Institute hosted Dr. David O’Connor. He gave a talk on "Perilous Beauty: Tattoos, Redheads, and Tolkien.”

J.R.R. Tolkien reflected deeply, and in a distinctively Catholic way, on the power of beauty to enchant and corrupt. Why in The Lord of the Rings do Men so often fear the Elf Queen Galadriel as "perilous"? These perils of Elvish beauty are Tolkien's Catholic version of anxieties explored, for example, in Shakespeare's ambiguous portrait of the seductiveness of Cleopatra; in Herman Melville's fascination (in Moby Dick) with the exotic beauty of tattoos; and in the Pre-Raphaelite painters' obsession with stunning redheads. Tolkien's Catholic response to the problem of perilous beauty comes into sharper focus when we compare his art to these great predecessors.

David O’Connor is a faculty member in the departments of Philosophy and of Classics at the University of Notre Dame. His teaching and writing focus on ancient philosophy, aesthetics, ethics and politics, and philosophy of religion. Dr. O’Connor is an acclaimed teacher and lecturer. His online lectures on love and sexuality have reached a wide international audience, and are the basis of his two recent books, Love is Barefoot Philosophy (in Chinese translation, 2014) and Plato’s Bedroom: Ancient Wisdom and Modern Love (2015). He has also published extensively on the relation between philosophy, art, and literature, in both the ancient and the modern world.

This event was co-sponsored by the Office of Arts and Humanities and the departments of: Art and Art History, History, Philosophy, and Religion

Welcome Students!

Welcome to all Hope College students, faculty, and staff! We are excited that you are here and look forward to seeing you all on campus as we kick off another school year.

Who We Are

The work of the Saint Benedict Institute is centered around the intellectual and spiritual growth of Hope’s Catholic students. We are a ministry of St. Francis de Sales Parish.

The two people you are most likely to run into at Hope College are our Catholic chaplain, Fr. Nick Monco, and Carly McShane, our campus missionary. Learn more about the Saint Benedict Institute staff here.

There are also a large number of Catholic faculty and staff. Dr. Jared Ortiz and Dr. Jack Mulder are two of the professors who founded the Saint Benedict Institute.

Carly McShane, Campus Missionary

Carly McShane, Campus Missionary

Fr. Nick Monco, Chaplain

Fr. Nick Monco, Chaplain

Schedule of Services

This year, the first Mass on campus will be Sunday, August 25 at 5:00 p.m. in Winants Auditorium in Graves Hall. In addition to Sunday Mass, we will again be offering daily Mass, opportunities for confession, and adoration, all of which are open to the public beginning on Tuesday, August 27. See the schedule of services for times and more details below. You are also welcome to attend services at the local Catholic parish; see more information here.

(Times apply to the school year only.View the academic calendar.)


Schoon Chapel, Graves Hall

Monday - 12:00 p.m    

Tuesday - 11:00 a.m and 9:00 p.m   

Wednesday - 12:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.

Thursday - 11:00 a.m.  

Friday - 12:00 p.m.   

Saturday - 12:00 p.m.


5:00 p.m. (Rosary at 4:30)
Winants Auditorium, Graves Hall


Tuesday/Wednesday - 8:00 p.m. Schoon Chapel

Thursday - 10:15-10:45 a.m. Lubbers 223

Friday - 11:15-11:45 a.m. Lubbers 223

By Appointment


Tuesday and Wednesday - 8:00 p.m. Schoon Chapel, Graves Hall

Get Involved

Saint Benedict Institute campus ministers and staff have planned a variety of events both for students and the local community that will take place throughout the year. What’s the best way to get involved? Sign up to receive regular emails to find out about all of our events and activities. You can also see upcoming activities published on the calendar of events, or by following the Saint Benedict Institute on Facebook or Instagram.

Other opportunities to pursue on or off-campus:

  • Hope Catholics

  • Volunteer with St. Francis de Sales youth ministry (click here to learn more)

Student Stories: A Story of Conversion

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Student Stories: A Story of Conversion

I grew up in a loving Protestant family, raised by parents who modeled Christ’s love to my sisters and I daily, taught me to love Jesus and to value my relationship with him, all while surrounded by a supportive church community. My experience in the Protestant church has been great and was a major part in my faith formation and spiritual growth.

However, in the past year or two the Protestant church has not been fulfilling some of the longings and desires that have been forming in my heart.

I am a religion major at Hope, with a focus in Theology and Church History. Through the wise and patient guidance of Dr. Jared Ortiz, I began to study the traditions and history of the faith, and I began to fall in love with the Saints and the ways of the early Church Fathers. My heart burned to encounter God in the ways that holy people like Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Augustine, and Saint Theresa of Avila experienced our Savior. I wanted, and needed, a faith community that valued the teachings and wisdom that is stored in the bountiful treasury of the Christian tradition.

Throughout this process I was meeting weekly with Carly McShane, who displayed the spirituality of the Catholic faith to me in a way that I had never encountered it before, and she showed me how much that Catholic Church valued the traditions and Saints that I had been falling in love with. The more I learned about the Catholic Church, through Carly’s patient answering of my sometimes aggressive and defensive questioning, and the further I journeyed into my studies in Christian theology, the more I felt myself drawn to the beauty of the Tradition of the Church. But I was still very apprehensive on the teaching of the Eucharist - representation or re-presentation? All of the beautiful Saints that I adored valued the Eucharist above all else, why couldn’t I? That question kept me up at night. 

These thoughts and feelings all came to a head when I attended Adoration for a class assignment (assigned by a Protestant professor). I sat in the presence of our Savior, and asked him to reveal himself to me, if this truly was him in full body and presence, if this was the way He wanted me to seek and worship Him. As soon as that prayer left my heart, silent tears began to fall down my face and continued for the rest of Adoration. The Lord was faithful and after two years of wrestling I was assured in what was right and true. Afterwards I stayed and explained to Carly what I had experienced, and we both hugged and cried and rejoiced together. 

Since then my journey into the Church has been so supported and surrounded by love, especially from Carly, Dr. Ortiz, Father Nick, and fellow Hope Catholics, along with the many campus activities run by the Saint Benedict Institute. Spending a week with Benedictine monks on the trip to Saint Meinrads Archabbey solidified my love for the tradition and teaching of the Catholic Church. I am so thankful for the wonderful community of Catholics that has taken root at Hope College, and I can’t wait to spend another year learning and growing in my faith, surrounded by my peers and incredible mentors. 

Movie Showing: The Passion of the Christ


The Passion of the Christ

Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Fried Hemenway Auditorium 
Martha Miller Center

The Hope College community is invited to join us on Wednesday, April 17at 6:00PMin Fried Hemenway Auditorium in the Martha Miller Center for a showing of The Passion of the Christ

The film depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Christ on the day of his crucifixion. This is a wonderful opportunity to enter more deeply into the final days of Lent as we prepare for Good Friday.

The showing is co-sponsored by Hope College Campus Ministries and the Saint Benedict Institute. 

Sunday School 2.0: the CCD You Wish You Had


Sunday School 2.0: the CCD You Wish You Had

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Confession

March 31 and April 7 (Sundays)

6:00PM - 7:15PM

Graves 119

Current students are invited to join us for a two-week FREE dinner and class on Catholic doctrine and practice. This ain't your grade school CCD! Fr. Nick Monco O.P. will give instruction on Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Confession.

Registration required. Seating limited.

Helen Alvaré: Work, Family, and the Sexual Revolution [VIDEO]

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Work, Family, and the Sexual Revolution: A Christian Feminist Take on Law and Culture Today

Thursday, March 7, 2019


Maas Auditorium (264 Columbia Ave, Holland, MI 49423)


On Thursday, March 7, 2019 the Saint Benedict Institute and Hope College Markets and Morality hosted Helen Alvaré. She gave a talk on Work, Family, and the Sexual Revolution: A Christian Feminist Take on Law and Culture Today.

While U.S. family life, sexual mores,  and employment patterns have changed considerably over the last half century, law and public policy have not caught up. Furthermore, sometimes lawmakers send muddled, conflicting, or even pernicious messages. Individuals, families, communities, and churches and other private institutions need to take additional responsibility to assist families, especially children who are most hurt by these changes. But law and policy makers also need to step up to their responsibilities.


Helen Alvaré is a Professor of Law at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, where she teaches Family Law, Law and Religion, and Property Law. Her most recent book is Putting Children's Interests First in US Family Law and Policy: With Power Comes Responsibility (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

This event is co-sponsored by the Departments of Religion and Political Science, the student group G.R.A.C.E.S. and the Hope College Cultural Affairs Committee.