Audio: Music of Silence

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Music of Silence: Music of Federico Mompou

Sunday, February 25, 2018 at 3:00 p.m.
Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts
John and Dede Howard Recital Hall

“...the silent music, the murmuring solitude...”
— St. John of the Cross

Guest pianist Stuart Leitch performed “Música Callada” (“Music of Silence”) by Federico Mompou on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 3 p.m. at Hope College in the John and Dede Howard Recital Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts.

Mompou (1893-1987) was a composer and pianist most celebrated for his solo piano music.  His work, influenced by his Catalan heritage and the French modernists, is often described as delicate and intimate.

Comprised of 28 short piano pieces, “Musica Callada” is a meditation on St. John of the Cross that creates an atmosphere of stillness and inwardness.  Mompou once wrote of the work that “its mission is to reach the profound depths of our soul and the hidden domains of the vital force of our spirits.  This music is silent (‘callada’) as if heard from within.”  Its performance at Hope, co-sponsored by the Saint Benedict Institute and the college’s departments of music, Spanish, and religion, was scheduled as a time of reflection.


“It is important to recover a sense of silence; the silence of God because our world is full of noise,” said Dr. Jared Ortiz, assistant professor of religion at Hope and director of the Saint Benedict Institute.  “Therefore, this is an opportunity for the community to practice religious silence.”

From 1962 to 1965 Leitch was a performing member of the legendary ONCE Group in Ann Arbor. ONCE was an early locus of the musical and theatrical avant-garde, presenting works by co-founders Robert Ashley and Gordon Mumma, with guest appearances by national and international figures including John Cage, Morton Feldman and Luigi Nono.

In New York from 1965 to 1970, he transcribed books of country blues in collaboration with the guitarist Stefan Grossman. He also worked with a rock band, Children of Paradise, touring, recording and creating music for Brian De Palma’s early film “Hi, Mom!”


Leitch moved to the Chicago area to work in opera, coaching singers privately and accompanying rehearsals for Lyric Opera of Chicago and Chicago Opera Theater. He founded Chamber Opera Chicago and directed it for three years. He was staff accompanist for a year at Northern Illinois University, and then shifted his focus to solo piano and chamber music. In Chicago he played in the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, in Schubertiade Chicago and in broadcasts by WFMT-FM.  Leitch studied at Oberlin College, Valparaiso University, and studied under several private teachers in Chicago.

He continues to teach and perform Chicago, Western Michigan and Southern California. 

The Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts is located at 221 Columbia Ave., between Ninth and 10th streets.

Exodus 90: Fellowship - Prayer - Sacrifice


Exodus 90: Fellowship - Prayer - Sacrifice

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.  The fun starts Ash Wednesday (first day of Lent) and ends on Pentecost Sunday. Several non-catholics have already decided to join - all are welcome.  Sign-ups end at 11:59 PM on Sunday, Feb 11.  Digital program materials provided free of charge to all participants by Exodus 90.

Information on the Program Structure & Commitments

Link to Register

Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Dinner and Seminar

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January 19, 26, and February 2 (Fridays)

5:00 P.M. - 7:00 P.M.

Cook Lounge

Current students are invited to participate in a three-week dinner and workshop on Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory with Dr. Jack Mulder, Associate Professor of Philosophy and author of What Does It Mean to Be Catholic? Each week is devoted to a different possibility for your future destiny. All participants will receive a free book (and free meals). 

Registration required and attendance is expected at all three seminars. Limited seating. 

Community in Christ

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Community in Christ

By Josh Bishop

The muffled tap of felt-bottomed pieces on a chessboard. Queen to king’s rook 3. Knight’s pawn captures pawn. And then a mistake. An unnoticed piece slides diagonally to take the queen, and one of the players quips with a grin, “You Protestants — always forgetting about the bishops.”

Sure, it sounds like the punchline to a joke (“A Reformed pastor and a Catholic priest… ”), but it’s straight out of one of the good-natured weekly chess matches between Father Nicholas Monco, O.P., the new priest who’s known around campus as “Father Nick,” and Rev. Dr. Trygve Johnson, the college’s Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel and minister of the Reformed Church of America (RCA). Enjoying friendly games marked by no small amount of laughter, they are modeling to students what unity in Christ looks like — and showing them that, in Johnson’s words, “conflict doesn’t have to be contentious, and differences don’t have to mean divisions of friendship.”

Fr. Nick arrived at Hope in August, when he was hired as the chaplain of the Saint Benedict Institute, an outreach of St. Francis de Sales Parish that serves Hope’s Catholic students, who make up 19 percent of the student body. The parish is one of Campus Ministries’ six covenant partners — local congregations that have agreed to provide spiritual care for Hope students. It’s within the framework of this covenant partnership that Fr. Nick has been invited to minister on campus.

The addition of Fr. Nick reflects the college’s increasing overall diversity. Roman Catholics now comprise the largest of the several Christian denominations at Hope, with students from the RCA, the college’s founding denomination, representing about 10 percent.

While remaining committed to its historic affiliation with the RCA, Hope is equally committed to providing both a welcoming, supportive environment and a rich opportunity for students to explore their Christian faith in a thriving ecumenical community in which many voices are in conversation. 

“The Christian family has a large circumference, and we’re trying to pay attention to the center that calls all Christians together,” Johnson said. “The center is the Triune God. Followers of Jesus come to the center from different parts of the circumference, but we come together because we confess Christ as Lord and we confess that the Trinity is one God in three. I do that self-consciously from my own tradition just as others do from theirs.”

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Fr. Nick is grateful to be at Hope, which he calls a “rare college” where the faith commitment is structurally built in. He remembers what it was like to attend a secular university, where it felt as if being a Christian was like “sneaking in a Trojan horse.” He isn’t trying to sneak around Hope College, though, and a good thing, too: With his white habit, its robes down to his ankles, and a long rosary at his side, he sticks out at Hope like a Muggle at Hogwarts.

Perhaps because of his conspicuity, Fr. Nick is something of a visible encouragement — if not a rallying point — for Hope’s Catholic students. “I think he kind of normalized Catholicism a little more,” said Alejandra Gomez, a senior from Rochester, Michigan.

Fr. Nick celebrates Mass at 5 p.m. on Sundays in Winants Auditorium and at noon every weekday in Harvey Chapel. Daily Mass lasts about 25 minutes, and Harvey Chapel in the Bultman Student Center is otherwise available to the entire campus for individual or group prayer. Fr. Nick also provides the sacrament of confession throughout the week and Eucharistic adoration in Schoon Chapel in Graves Hall on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.

“Eucharist is food for the soul,” Fr. Nick said. “It allows Catholic students to encounter Christ in that sacramental way.”

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For senior Jonathan Bading, it’s no surprise that the Catholic community is being built up around the Eucharist. Bading is a music performance major from Chantilly, Virginia, who serves on the leadership board of the Hope Catholics student group. “You can’t have a strong Catholic community without being connected to the Mass,” he said. “We often speak about the Mass and the celebration of the Eucharist as the source and summit of the faith, so when you have a community removed from that central element, it’s very difficult to be in communion with each other.”

“At its most basic,” said Father Nick, “my goal is to provide a regular sacramental presence and be someone students can talk to to develop their faith.”

Gomez is one of several students who meets regularly with Fr. Nick. “He’s very willing to listen without making judgments and always makes sure I’m comfortable to say what I want to say,” she said.

“I’m very happy to have someone who can relate to students, someone who’s younger and energetic and lively,” said Catherine Coddington, a senior from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and treasurer of Hope Catholics.

Although he’s relatively young (Fr. Nick is 34 years old and was ordained a Dominican priest in 2013), he has plenty of academic, spiritual and practical experience under his cincture. Fr. Nick received master’s degrees in theology and divinity from the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri, where he also earned a Certificate in Thomistic Studies.

Before coming to Hope, Fr. Nick taught theology at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois, for four years. That experience with students has helped him build relationships and provide spiritual care at Hope College.

“He knows the age group very well,” Bading said. “I think he understands young adults, our strengths and our weaknesses. He’s a very personable man, the type you can talk to about anything.”

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When he’s not meeting with students or fulfilling the role of a priest, Fr. Nick can be found swimming at the Dow, playing chess, participating in “caffeinated evangelization” at a downtown coffee shop, or driving to and from Grand Rapids, where he lives with two other Dominican priests on the grounds of Aquinas College.

Hope College is a bit of a drive, but it’s worth it. “I’ve been very moved by how welcoming people have been,” Fr. Nick said. “From the administration trying to accommodate our needs to campus ministers, faculty and students, everyone has been very nice, welcoming and friendly.”

“I want to promote a college where as many Christians as possible can link arms and talk to each other,” Johnson said. “I would love to see continued conversation and collaboration to promote Christ. I want the Saint Benedict Institute to feel like it’s flourishing, and I want Nick to feel his pastoral and priestly identity is bearing fruit. I want students to grow. I want real friendship and partnership together.”

In that sense, at least, ecumenism at Hope looks a little bit like two friends laughing together from the opposite ends of a chessboard. After all, they’re both playing the same game.

This story originally appeared in Hope College's News from Hope Magazine in the Winter 2017 edition. You can read the article and the rest of the magazine here.

Preparing for Christ: Advent 2017

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Preparing for Christ: Advent 2017

At Christmas, the God who became man is born at Bethlehem.  Advent is the time to prepare ourselves to welcome Jesus into this world and into our hearts.  That journey is one Christ invites to make not alone, but with others.  The Saint Benedict Institute hosted a retreat December 1-2(Friday to Saturday) at Camp Geneva.  Fr. Nick will led the retreat which began with fellowship and dinner. The retreated continued through the night with spiritual talks and discussions, silence and adoration, mass and confession. 

Is the Catholic Counter-Reformation Over?



On Sunday, October 8, Dr. Eduardo J. Echeverria gave a lecture on the Catholic Counter-Reformation at 7pm at 14th Street Christian Reformed Church in Holland. 

The Catholic Counter-Reformation is over insofar as the Catholic Church now recognizes the Reformation as a renewal movement.  This does not mean that Christ's ecumenical imperative (John 17:11, 20-21) has now been completely fulfilled. Catholic teaching sees the Church's unity both as a gift, an existing reality, and a task. Since Vatican II (1965), the Catholic Church has been irrevocably committed to receptive ecumenism, in which ecumenical dialogue is an exchange of gifts, a dialogue of love, stemming from a common cause in the Gospel. The basis and limits of this ecumenism will be explored.

Dr. Eduardo Echeverria is a Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.


What Can Catholics and Protestants Learn from One Another Today?


What Can Catholics and Protestants Learn from One Another Today? A Conversation Upon the Occasion of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Thursday, October 5 at 7pm. Calvin College Chapel, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak, Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids

Dr. Jared Ortiz, Hope College

Dr. Karin Maag, Calvin College

Dr. Ronald Feenstra, Calvin Theological Seminary


Hope College professor and Saint Benedict Institute executive director Jared Ortiz joined Bishop David J. Walkowiak, Dr. Karin Maag, and Dr. Ronald Feenstra to discuss Catholic-Protestant relations on the occasion of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The event was held Thursday, October 5, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. in the Calvin College Chapel at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. 

If you missed the event but would like to know what the speakers shared you can watch the video below. 


The Paradox of Liberty: Alex Honnold and the Art of Human Freedom

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A lecture with Dr. Catherine Pakaluk took place on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium at Hope College.

Earlier this year, rock climber Alex Honnold became the only person to have free-solo climbed the 3,000-foot face of El Capitan, an imposing granite monolith in Yosemite National Park.

In 1991, Pope John Paul II wrote “Centesimus Annus,” a papal encyclical letter on contemporary political and economic issues, specifically Marxism and the free market.

What do the two have in common? More than one might think.

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The Saint Benedict Institute and the Markets and Morality student organization at Hope College hosted Dr. Catherine Pakaluk to speak on, “Paradox of Liberty: Alex Honnold and the Art of Human Freedom,” on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium at Hope College. The talk addressed the meaning of human freedom in the Catholic tradition and established links to both Catholic social teaching and classical liberalism.

Beginning with a narrative of Honnold’s historic climb, Pakaluk discussed paradoxical aspects of human liberty and how it applies to John Paul II’s encyclical. From there she explored the relation between freedom and the principles of the free society.

Pakaluk is an assistant professor of economics at the Tim and Steph Busch School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America. Her primary areas of research include economics of education and religion, family studies and demography, Catholic social thought and political economy. Pakaluk is the 2015 recipient of the Acton Institute’s Novak Award, a prize given for “significant contributions to the study of the relationship between religion and economic liberty.”  She earned her doctorate at Harvard University in 2010 and lives in Maryland with her husband, Michael, and eight children.

The Saint Benedict Institute sponsored this event with Markets and Morality, an intellectually curious and close-knit community of students at Hope College that engages in deep and continuing discussion of serious issues and works to open that conversation to the larger campus community. Markets and Morality supports students as they examine the interplay of market forces through the lens of moral thought, including the precepts of the historic Christian faith, and facilitates a rigorous conversation about whether markets can contribute to human flourishing.

The event was co-sponsored by Hope College’s Department of Religion and Department of Economics and Business.

The Biblical Roots of Exorcism and Its Meaning for Ministry Today

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On September 28, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium the Saint Benedict Institute hosted a lecture with Father Vincent P. Lampert, Priest and Exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Indiana.


In the public imagination exorcism is the stuff of horror movies. The work of real-life exorcists, however, is much less sensational and much more pastoral, as the Rite of Exorcism is part of the healing ministry of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Saint Benedict Institute hosted the lecture “The Biblical Roots of Exorcism and Its Meaning for Ministry Today” by Father Vincent Lampert on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium at Hope College. The talk addressed the definition and kinds of exorcism, the biblical basis for the ministry of exorcism, defense against the demonic, types and signs of demonic activity, and how this ministry relates to mental health questions.

“Evil is real. The devil is real. Jesus talks about the devil more than anyone else in Scripture. We shouldn't be fearful, but we should be knowledgeable,” said Dr. Jared Ortiz, assistant professor of religion at Hope College and director of the Saint Benedict Institute. “There has been an increasing demand for exorcists around the world and an increasing number of movies and television shows about them. We wanted to invite someone to speak to this phenomenon soberly and from a biblical point of view.”


Lampert is a priest and exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Indiana. He currently serves as a pastor to St. Malachy Catholic Church in Brownsburg, Indiana.

The address was co-sponsored by the college’s Department of Religion, Campus Ministries program and Center for Ministry Studies.

If you missed the talk you can watch it below or on our videos page.

Conference Organizer Wins Prestigious Award


Eric Boldiszar received the 2017 Bert Thompson Award for Faith-Based Program from the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice, for his work organizing the Saint Benedict Institute Hope for Restoration conference. Below is his acceptance speech.

Whenever you begin a good work pray to [God] most earnestly to bring it to perfection.” These words from St. Benedict have been constantly on my mind as I thought about the community wide effort it took to bring the Hope for Restoration: Radical Hospitality and Prison Reform conference to perfection. First and foremost, God deserves thanks and praise for making the vision of this conference a reality. Only the hand of God can craft something that brings together Catholics, Protestants, and people other faiths; it brought together people of all races and creeds, and it brought together students, academics, businessmen, activists, politicians, corrections officials, and, of all things, prisoners—all for the common goal of restorative justice and the quest for a more proactive approach to repairing the lives affected by crime in our fallen world.

This award is not just mine, it also belongs to all of you—and it is a testament to the power of your love and dedication to social justice, improving society by acknowledging the needs of crime victims, rehabilitating offenders, and restoring wholeness and harmony to the community. Individuals have dreams, but the realization of those dreams comes from people working together towards a common end. Therefore, I’d like to thank: Jared Ortiz and the Saint Benedict Institute, the Corpus Christi Foundation, Hope College and the dozens of campus organizations that stepped up to support the conference, Drs. Cioffi and deGroot, Julie “the Boss” Bylsma, Nate Roels, Calvin College and Seminary, the speakers, Ryan Nichols and my other CPI brothers, MDOC director Heidi Washington, and Warden Burton, and most importantly those who attended, who all are committed to the vision of reforming and transforming the prison culture.

Before coming to prison, I like many others, never gave prisoners a thought, and if I did, I had the perception of thugs, monsters, and cold-hearted, callous men. While I have encountered such, I have also found loving fathers, eager students, and good-hearted men caught up in bad situations. I have also witnessed the power of community programs to transform the former. It is the latter two who motivate me and my brothers to cultivate opportunities and raise awareness for the need of such programs in prison. People should not be defined solely by their worst deed; such definitions negate the human potential to learn, to change, and to become something more. Such definitions negate the possibility of redemption and restoration by refusing a much needed second chance.

America is the land of opportunity and second chances, and I dream of a criminal justice system which affords such a grace, balancing the need for justice with mercy. I dream of a criminal justice system which sets aside retribution and focuses on rehabilitation, replaces stigmatization with restoration, and foregoes condemnation for transformation. That is why I proposed radical hospitality, a faith-based, Trinitarian guide to inform the restorative justice movement. Radical hospitality is an extreme generosity of spirit that is contrary to conventional social expectations. It is active and extends its love outward to all members of the community, viewing each individual as the image of God and seeking to liberate and reconcile the dignity of both victims and offenders. It is the gift of love that we are called to extend to others as God has extended to us.

As things stand now with the criminal justice system, the road to restorative justice is the road less traveled, and therefore, I call on all of you to give of yourselves to bringing about the change our incarceration nation so desperately needs. Thus, I urge each and every one of you not only pray to God daily to bring the restorative justice movement to perfection, but also to write your senators and government official to make the restorative justice movement a reality in America’s prisons. Moreover, I urge you to connect with and work with other organizations within the restorative justice movement because the key to success will be social networking and making your presence known and felt. If you don’t think there is enough good in this world of ours, I challenge you to join me in making it.

Thank you.


Hope Catholic to Enter Seminary


Originally from Lansing, Michigan, Corey Bilodeau graduated from Hope College in 2014. This fall, Corey will enter Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. Recently, the Saint Benedict Institute Vocation Discernment Program helped fund Corey’s discernment pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We asked him to say a few words about his journey to the priesthood and the Holy Land:

I  had not thought much about the priesthood until my senior year of college. The catalyst that propelled my thoughts towards the priesthood was Dr. Ortiz’s Catholic Christianity class. He really went into depth about why Catholics believe what they believe. When we went over the topic of vocations I was instantly drawn to this idea of maybe I was being called to the priesthood.

After graduation, I volunteered in the Archdiocese of Baltimore for one year as Volunteer Coordinator in a soup kitchen. I realized I had to pursue the priesthood more seriously. After much prayer and spiritual direction, I applied to seminary. Part of my discernment process was a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

One of the highlights of that trip was that we were able to have Mass on the beach of Capernaum. It was an amazing experience to celebrate the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist where Jesus called His first disciples. I then had the opportunity to ponder on the beach what God was calling me to do in terms of my vocation.

Another highlight was hiking up Mount Tabor, which is where the Transfiguration happened. We did it in silence and it took about two hours to hike 1500 ft. to the top. It gave me time to really pray without any distractions and I asked for God’s mercy and for Him to grant me the gift of celibacy for the priesthood.

It was a truly blessed time where I learned how to read the Bible more deeply. I also learned how to draw closer to God in a personal and real way.

Please pray for Corey, our first seminarian since the founding of the Saint Benedict Institute!