David O'Connor: Perilous Beauty: Tattoos, Redheads, and Tolkien


Perilous Beauty: Tattoos, Redheads, and Tolkien

Monday, September 23
Winants Auditorium, Graves Hall

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 is 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 fully, bodily present, 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 hugged, cried, and rejoiced together.


Since then my journey into the Church has been so supported and surrounded by love, especially from Carly, Dr. Ortiz, Fr. 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 Meinrad’s Archabbey solidified my love for the Tradition and teachings 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.

 - Abby Nickles, 20’

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.

Love, Sex, and Theology of the Body: A Saint Benedict Seminar for Men

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Love, Sex, and Theology of the Body

A Saint Benedict Seminar for Men

Friday, February 15

5:00PM - 7:00PM

DeWitt Herrick Room

The men of Hope College are invited to join us for Love, Sex, and Theology of the Body: A Saint Benedict Seminar for Men with Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P. Students only.

Pizza and drinks will be provided

Register here!

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Fr. Petri was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Madisonville, Kentucky. He initially studied to be a priest for the Diocese of Owensboro and entered Saint Meinrad College Seminary in 1996 before moving to the Pontifical College Josephinum in 1997 where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. He then received a Baccalaureate of Sacred Theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Chicago in 2002. Entering the Order of Preachers in 2004, Fr. Petri was ordained a priest in 2009. He has a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from The Catholic University of America. Prior to his appointment as Vice President and Academic Dean of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception in 2013, Fr. Petri was an Assistant Professor of Theology at Providence College in Rhode Island. He is a member of the Society of Christian Ethics and is the secretary/treasurer of the Academy of Catholic Theology. He has published articles in Nova et Vetera and in The National Catholic Bioethics Quaraterly. He is also a contributor to Catholic News Agency and The National Catholic Register.  His book, Aquinas and the Theology of the Body: The Thomistic Foundations of John Paul II’s Anthropologywas published by CUA Press in 2016.

St. Valentine, Love, and Natural Family Planning: A Saint Benedict Seminar on Women's Health

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St. Valentine, Love, and Natural Family Planning

A Saint Benedict Seminar on Women’s Health

Kim Barrows on February 15 and 22; Carmelita LaPorte on March 1 (Fridays)

Cook Lounge

5:00PM - 7:00PM

The women of Hope College are invited to join us for a three-week seminar on Women’s Health: St. Valentine, Love, and Natural Family Planning. Students only.

Pizza and drinks will be provided!

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Dr. Kim Barrows has worked as a family medicine physician for over a decade, most recently in Omaha, NE. It was there at the Pope Paul VI Institute at Creighton University that she acquired specialty training in NaPro Technology, a women’s health science that networks family planning with reproductive and gynecological health monitoring and maintenance.

According to Dr. Barrows, the benefits of NaPro Technology span a variety of women’s health issues beyond the natural management of fertility: infertility, miscarriage, premature birth, post-partum depression, endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome, recurrent ovarian cysts, and more. Dr. Barrows is the mother of five children, a classical singer and enjoys waterskiing, and teaching children’s choirs and dance teams.

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Carmelita LaPorte is an active volunteer in the Holland/Zeeland area. She and her husband Joe have seven children. They both help to facilitate the marriage preparation program at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church. She puts her education degree to good use by volunteering at Corpus Christi Catholic School. In the community, she is also a volunteer for the Ottawa County Police Department. Carmelita is passionate about guiding and accompanying people, particularly women, in authentically living out their vocations. She enjoys reading, coffee dates, real conversations, and meeting new friends.

Exodus 90

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Exodus 90

February 15, 2019 - May 25, 2019

The Exodus 90 program is built on the pillars of fellowship, prayer, and sacrifice.  It is for those who are looking to seriously live their faith, to encounter Christ in a new way, and to overcome sinful habits. The program is demanding and that is point.  To make room for Christ in our hearts requires clearing other things out.  If you register for this program please know that it is a serious commitment to a weekly group meeting, to daily accountability, at least 20 minutes of daily prayer and a serious regimen of ascetic practices.  If you are not interested then please do not sign up.  If you do then give it your all, knowing that Jesus will not be outdone in generosity.  Anyone is welcome to participate. 

The process to join has five steps:

Step 1: Read the this sheet on the structure and commitments involved in Exodus 90.  This is a rigorous program - please do not skip over this step and prayerful consider whether God is calling you to this at this time in your life.

Step 2: Complete this online registration form (5 minutes or less).

Step 3: Sign up for a particular group using one of the four links below.  Pay attention to when and where you group is meeting if the time is specified. If the meeting time is not specified then a doodle poll will be used to find a time.

Step 4: Download the GroupMe app for your iPhone or Android

Step 5: Attend out kick-off event on Thursday, February 14th in Dimnent Chapel at 11am.

Disability and Human Nature: Day of Study 2019

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Disability and Human Nature

Day of Study 2019

On Saturday, February 2, 2019 from 9:00AM - 4:00PM, the Saint Benedict Institute hosted a Day of Study on the theme Disability and Human Nature.


The rise of disability studies has given fresh urgency to the question of what it means to be human and many of those engaged in this study seem to be operating from very different principles. On the one hand, there are those who would deny that the disabled, especially the intellectually disabled, have lives worth living and, indeed, would even argue that some among them are not persons.  On the other hand, there are defenders of the disabled who challenge the idea of ‘normal’ and who often explicitly or tacitly argue that traditional notions of human nature are wrong or, at least, need to be rethought.   This Day of Study is meant to explore, in the light of faith, some of the questions raised by the current state of disability studies.  What does it mean to be human?  Is there a different meaning for disabled humans? Is there such a thing as ‘normal’ for human beings? What are the characteristics, if any, of our common human nature? Are disabilities part of creation or the Fall?  Does the Christian tradition have resources for addressing the questions raised by disability studies or does the tradition need a radical re-thinking?

The day of study consisted of several papers presented by Michael Waddell, Sarah Barton, Benjamin Connor, and Jared Ortiz. Each paper was by a conversation with twenty invited "thoughtful interlocutors" from the region.

Michael Waddell is the McMahon Aquinas Chair in Philosophy at St. Mary's College and Director of the Master of Autism Studies.  He is currently working on a book, Autism and the Catholic Tradition

Sarah Barton is a Nouwen Fellow at Western Theological Seminary.  She is finishing her dissertation on "Becoming the Baptized Body: Disability, Baptism, and the Practice of Christian Community" at Duke Divinity School. 

Benjamin Conner is a Professor of Practical Theology and Director of the Graduate Certificate in Disability and Ministry at Western Theological Seminary.  His most recent book is Disabling Mission, Enabling Witness: Exploring Missiology Through the Lens of Disability Studies (InterVarsity Press, 2018).

Jared Ortiz is a professor of Religion at Hope College and the Executive Director of the Saint Benedict Institute. His most recent book is Deification in the Latin Patristic Tradition (The Catholic University of America Press, 2019).


Giving Tuesday 2018


Giving Tuesday Supporting the Saint Benedict Institute

Today is #GivingTuesday! Please consider making a gift to support our ministry at Hope College. Throughout the month of November we have shared several stories from our students. They are beautiful accounts of vocation, conversion, and service. By giving to the Saint Benedict Institute your generosity can help foster many new stories in the lives of students at Hope College in the years to come. 

Check out our featured students below!

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"Inspired by the Holy Spirit, I had a newfound openness to God’s voice. It was in hearing His voice that I found out that He was leading me to the priesthood."

Read Jacob's story


"I gobbled up all the Catholic media I could find, ravenous to know God in this new way that was true and beautiful, simple yet endlessly mysterious."

Read Jazz's story


"There is no doubt that if I wasn’t altar serving, I could spend more time with friends, run over to the dining hall earlier and then try to finish my school work. Yet, it is when we make ourselves poorer for His sake, the One who sacrificed everything to be with us, that the blessings of God make themselves manifest in our lives."

Read Chase's Story