Advent Retreat with Fr. David Meconi, S.J.

Thirty students attended an overnight retreat at beautiful Camp Geneva with famous retreat master and Hope alum, Fr. David Meconi, S.J.  The retreat began with dinner on Friday, December 4, and went until noon on Saturday, December 5. There were inspirational talks, worship music with Joshua Banner, time for prayer, confession, resting in God, and fellowship. The theme of the retreat was With Mary During Advent.


The schedule for the retreat was as follows:


6:00 pm           Dinner

6:45 pm           Talk 1: "In God's Image: Made for Relationship"

7:30 pm           Mass and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament

9:00 pm           Talk 2: "With Mary at Night"

Retreat Participants signed up for an hour slot throughout the night so that there was continual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.


8:00 am           Breakfast

9:00 am           Talk 3: "Mary and the Mystical Body"

9:45 am           Time of silence for Adoration and Reconciliation

10:30 am         Talk 4: "The Holy Spirit and Unity"

11:30 am          Mass

12 Noon          Depart and Lunch on our own


Have a Heart: Dr. Anthony Esolen on the Value of a Christian Liberal Arts Education (VIDEO)

Have a Heart: Dr. Anthony Esolen on the Value of a Christian Liberal Arts  Education (VIDEO)

Dr. Anthony Esolen of Providence College lectured on “Liberal Arts and the Christian College in a Post-Christian World.” Dr. Esolen spoke of the rare and precious gift that only a Christian liberal arts college can bestow - an education with a heart.

Duncan Stroik on Architecture for the Poor (VIDEO)

LA Cathedral and St. Patrick NYC (2)
LA Cathedral and St. Patrick NYC (2)

On October 15, 2015, Duncan Stroik gave a fascinating lecture, entitled, "Architecture for the Poor."  He asked: What sort of architecture is appropriate for the poor? Should the buildings we construct for the disenfranchised express their poverty through economical materials, humble proportions, and functionalist interiors? Do beautiful, ornate churches disregard those who struggle for basic comforts? A rousing, thirty-minute Q & A session followed Stroik's talk.

The event was co-sponsored by Hope College's Religion Department, the Art and Art History Department, Sociology and Social Work Department, Markets & Morality, and the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Duncan G. Stroik is a practicing architect, author, and Professor of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame. His built work includes the Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel in Santa Paula, California, the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Prof. Stroik is also the author of The Church Building as a Sacred Place: Beauty, Transcendence, and the Eternal, and edits the journal Sacred Architecture.

Dawn Eden Gives Hope to the Hurting (VIDEO)

Dawn Eden Gives Hope to the Hurting (VIDEO)

On September 16, author and popular speaker, Dawn Eden, gave two talks on the campus of Hope College: "How Jesus’ Sacred Heart Healed My Memories" and "Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On"

Lecture on Pope Francis with Dr. Eduardo Echeverria

via Shutterstock, rights managed.

via Shutterstock, rights managed.

The Saint Benedict Forum was pleased to welcome our friend Dr. Eduardo Echeverria, Professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary who spoke on the topic of "Pope Francis's Temptations: The Church in the Modern World" on TuesdaySeptember 29th, at Hope College in the Maas Conference Room (264 Columbia Ave).  The event was co-sponsored by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute and the Religion Department.

The video of the talk will be available soon.

With Pope Francis's recent visit to the United States and Cuba, many have had an opportunity to learn more about this charismatic and yet humble pontiff.  Nevertheless, the pope is often confusing to many groups of people.  Many appreciate his concern for the environment, his clear opposition to the death penalty, and his devotion to the poor.  Yet, he is also a persistent defender of the traditional family, the right to life at every stage, and religious liberty.  Dr. Echeverria helped us understand what really animates Pope Francis and why he defies so many caricatures of the papacy and the Catholic Church.

Casting the Demons Out....of the Dorm Room

Casting the Demons Out....of the Dorm Room

A blessing of dorm rooms? What’s that about...? Last year, the Saint Benedict Forum organized the first-ever blessing of dorm rooms on the campus of Hope College. The event was such a hit that it was brought back again this year. This year’s blessing of dorm rooms took place during the second week of school once students had time to settle in . . . and to give them an excuse to do some possibly needed housekeeping.

Thank You Our Sunday Visitor Institute!


OSV-red-squareLast April, the Our Sunday Visitor Institute awarded the Saint Benedict Forum a matching grant. We are pleased to announce that the matching grant is complete!   In three short months, we raised $22,000 and the Our Sunday Visitor Institute has matched it! We are grateful for the generous support of our work.  It is a real blessing to have the encouragement of this fine Institute.

We are also grateful to all of our benefactors who made this opportunity a rousing success.  You make our work possible.  May God richly bless you!

Immersion Trip 2015: Franciscans of the Eucharist


By Daniel Karlovich, Hope College '15, Engineering Major

During Spring Break this year I was blessed to go on the Hope College Immersion trip sponsored by the Saint Benedict Forum to Chicago. With 10 other Hope students and two adult mentors from St. Francis de Sales Parish in Holland, Michigan I lived and worked at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels alongside members of the religious order Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago. It was a powerful and blessed experience for us all.

A View of the Hope Students from Chicago's Famous "Bean"
A View of the Hope Students from Chicago's Famous "Bean"

During the course of the week we learned to live simply like the Franciscans. A significant part of the trip was spent doing simple tasks such as cooking and cleaning. We quickly learned from the sisters that even such “boring” chores take on great meaning when done with joy and love for Christ.

We also ventured into the community in which we were living. Inside one of the poorest and most violent neighborhoods in Chicago, we spent a few hours every day at the local YMCA with the children in their after school programs. Helping teach a junior class at the local high school, a school with a 67% dropout rate, was particularly powerful for many of us. We also visited a Catholic school, Cristo Rey, and learned about all the wonderful work they are doing to help underprivileged children get a good high school and college education.

All these great things were secondary to what the trip was mainly about. The trip was about self-reflection, learning what it means to live as a Christian in a broken world. It was here that the trip made a lasting impression on me.

I don’t think this trip was easy for anyone. We all were blessed by our experiences, but it wasn’t comfortable. It was a week of both great joy and great sorrow. Joy seemed to just flow from the sisters and it influenced our whole week in our work and in our relationships with each other and the people we met. What a contrast to the pervasive sorrow caused by the poverty and violence that was so prevalent and normal in the neighborhood and in the lives of those we met. Living for a week in an area of so much violence and poverty made all of us ask questions of ourselves and of God that we perhaps had never asked before.

What were these questions? We questioned what purpose was there to come into these people’s lives for a week and then leave. How could we change anything in so short a time against such overwhelming odds? We also questioned ourselves, where are we in our own spiritual journeys? Where is God in our lives?

Some of these questions are easy to answer. Immersion trips are aptly named because we really do not go to help others. We cannot change anything in a week. We go to learn about ourselves and to deepen our own understanding and love of God. In this aspect, this trip succeeded. Some of us left hopeful despite all the struggles. Others left frustrated. It wasn’t the frustration that comes from failure, but the frustration of struggling with a hard question that taxes us spiritually and mentally, but which always leaves us better for the struggle.

For me, being in the midst of so much violence and poverty left me feeling more hopeful than I have in a while. Despite the conditions of the neighborhood, I found so much good there. All the residents we met were loving and welcoming. The kids were a constant joy to be around. The YMCA employees worked tirelessly to get the kids off the streets, to do their homework and have a hot meal. And, of course, there are the sisters who are respected and loved within the community, doing everything with so much abundant joy and love for God. I realized that despite the evil in the world there are so many people who go about their lives humbly and lovingly in the midst of suffering, helping those in poverty both spiritually and physically.

It is always good when facing hard questions to draw on the wisdom of other godly people. In the car ride home one of the girls, like the rest of us still struggling to come to terms with all we had experienced, read a reflection on St. Veronica. The message was clear, “sometimes all we can do is wipe the sweat from someone’s brow as they suffer” (Kerry Weber, Mercy in the City).

Before the trip we may have said we went to help the poor, but we are wiser now. Like St. Veronica, the best we could do was to wipe the sweat from those in pain as an act of love. The real change came in our own hearts.