Student Stories: My Time Serving at the Altar

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Chase Pearce: My Time Serving at the Altar


On the twenty-eighth Sunday of Ordinary time, Fr. Nick gave a homily on what it means to be poor, relating it to the Gospel of Mark and the rich man that came to Jesus. Christ told the man “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me", and the man was disheartened for he had many things. While it’s true that Our Lord calls us to make material sacrifices, there are many other forms of poverty, and serving at the altar has helped me become poorer, specifically in temporal poverty. Time is a precious gift that no one can get back, and being an altar server takes time, whether it’s to help set up for Mass, to bear the crucifix as people leave (an awesome title called the crucifer), or to help take everything down and ensure its safely stored away. 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. It is only when we have emptied ourselves of that which we possess that we can then be fulfilled by the abundant gifts that Our Lord lavishes upon us.

Chase Pearce is a senior studying biology at Hope College. You will frequently find him doing homework in the basement of Graves hall at ‘his desk’. Chase is also a convert to the Catholic faith.

Carly's Chapel Talk

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Carly’s Chapel Talk

On Wednesday, October 3, 2018 hundreds of Hope students gathered in Dimnent Memorial Chapel as they do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a twenty-five minute worship service. Student regularly hear from the Hope College chaplains, their peers, and special guests. On this particular day the guest speaker was our very own Saint Benedict Institute campus missionary, Carly McShane. Carly was invited to speak on 1 Timothy 3:14-16. Listen to her talk here or click the link below.

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion:

He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
— 1 Timothy 3:14-16

Film Showing: Summer in the Forest [TRAILER]

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Summer in the Forest

On Thursday, November 8 at 7:00 PM in Winants Auditorium students, faculty, and community members gathered for a screening of the film Summer in the Forest followed by a talk back with Dennis Feaster, professor of Social Work and Sociology at Hope College.

Summer in the Forest is a documentary film that explores the life and work of Catholic author and philosopher Jean Vanier. It traces Vanier’s activism and faith from wartime to present day and reveals to us the universal need for love, community and companionship.

Like countless others Philippe, Michel, Andre and Patrick were labeled 'idiots', locked away and forgotten in violent asylums, until the 1960s, when the young philosopher Jean Vanier took a stand and secured their release - the first time in history that anyone had beaten the system. Together they created L'Arche, a commune at the edge of a beautiful forest near Paris. A quiet revolution was born.

Now in his 80s, and still at L'Arche, Jean has discovered something that most of us have forgotten - what it is to be human, to be foolish, and to be happy.

Film Showing: The Dating Project


The Dating Project

On Thursday, November 1 at 6:30PM Hope College Campus Ministries and the Saint Benedict Institute hosted a showing of The Dating Project in Dimnent Chapel.

The film was followed by a panel discussion with students and Campus Ministries Staff.

50% of America is single. The way people seek and find love has radically changed. The trends of hanging out, hooking up, texting and social media have created a dating deficit. Dating is now…outdated. Follow five single people, aged 18 to 40, as they navigate this new landscape.

Watch the trailer.

Sunday School 2.0: The CCD You Wish You Had


Sunday School 2.0: The CCD You Wish You Had

October 21, 28 and November 4 (Sundays)

Following Mass 6:00PM - 7:15PM

Graves 119

Current students are invited to join us for a three-week FREE dinner and class on Catholic doctrine and practice. This ain't your grade school CCD! Each week Fr. Nick Monco O.P. will give instruction on the Saints, purgatory, and praying for the dead (indulgences). 

Students only. Registration is required and attendance is expected at all three sessions. Seating is limited to 25 students. 

A Civil Dialogue on Abortion: Two Philosopher Friends Discuss Controversial Topics [VIDEO]

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A Civil Dialogue on Abortion: Two Philosopher Friends Discuss Controversial Topics

On October 18, 2018, Jack Mulder (Hope College) and Bertha Manninen (Arizona State University) had a refreshingly civil dialogue on abortion. After some humorous trouble with the microphones, the event gets going in earnest.

Two friends, a pro-life philosopher and a pro-choice philosopher, came together to show us what civil dialogue looks like on one of our most contentious issues.

Jack Mulder and Bertha Manninen had a refreshingly civil dialogue on abortion.

Jack Mulder is the Chair of the Philosophy Department at Hope College and the co-founder of the Saint Benedict Institute. He writes and teaches in the areas of philosophy of religion, Catholic thought, applied ethics and the thought of Søren Kierkegaard.

Bertha Manninen is an associate professor of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies at Arizona State University. Her scholarly interests are applied ethics, biomedical ethics, normative and meta-ethics, philosophy of religion, and social and political philosophy.

Their new co-authored book, Civil Dialogue on Abortion, (Routledge, 2018) has been praised by critics on both sides as showing us "how to engage with our opponents thoughtfully, critically, and respectfully while illuminating the moral and philosophical complexities behind the abortion debate."

While the abortion debate divides many, Jack and Bertha have somehow managed to remain friends. Their warmth toward each other was evident. When asked about their friendship Bertha said, “Both Jack and his wife Melissa are, hands down, two of the best human beings that I’ve ever known,” and Jack could only respond with, “Well, the feeling’s mutual.”  


Jack and Bertha have been debating about this issue since their graduate school days. One might imagine that in the cramped quarters of a philosophy department office there are many debates. Over the years Jack and Bertha have debated over the philosophy of religion, ethics, and many other things. Jack said in all of these debates, “We clearly disagreed and we both clearly valued the truth.” Jack and Bertha were able to have a rich and meaningful debate on abortion because of this very principle. They both value the truth and understand that the other is seeking what is right. Although they may disagree, and they don’t disagree on everything, there is a general air of respect and admiration for the other person in their conversation.

We can certainly learn many things from Jack and Bertha’s discussion. We see the complexity of the questions surrounding the abortion debate but even more clearly we can see how true friendship changes the dynamics of a controversial conversation, helping us to find points of consensus and perhaps understanding, with more clarity, where we disagree.

This event was sponsored by the Saint Benedict Institute, the Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Women’s and Gender Studies Departments, along with Vox Populi, GRACES, Campus Ministries, the Center for Ministry Studies, Markets & Morality, and Hope Catholics.

Restorative Justice Conference: Hope, Healing, and Radical Reconciliation

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Restorative Justice Conference: Hope, Healing, and Radical Reconciliation

Saturday, October 13, 2018


Calvin College, Covenant Fine Arts Center


Two years ago, the students in the Calvin Prison Initiative program at the R.A. Handlon Correctional facility had an idea and heart to put on a conference about restorative justice. They wanted, in some way, to reach out and create something that the public could participate and learn in. That produced the first restorative justice conference last year, held at Hope College. This year, is a continuation of that spirit of connectedness and dedication to restorative justice.

The 2nd Annual West Michigan Restorative Justice Conference is again, organized by students in the Calvin Prison Initiative program at the R.A. Handlon Correctional facility, with a theme of Hope, Healing, and Radical Reconciliation.

This one-day FREE conference (registration required) will feature a variety of speakers and organizations from the State of Michigan that work in areas of restorative justice and criminal justice reform. The conference will be held on October 13, 2018 from 9AM-4PM at Calvin College's Covenant Fine Arts Center.

Lunch will be provided at this event, and attendees will have time to visit booths of local organizations and non-profits, seeing how they contribute to restorative justice efforts in the state. In addition, a new application created by teh Civitas Lab will be featured. This app is an interactive map providing resources for re-entry and other restorative resources for those affected by incarceration.

Our speakers include:
Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff is an American philosopher and Reformed epistemologist, formerly a professor at Calvin College, and a passionate believer in restorative justice. He will open the conference on what it means to mobilize hope in restorative justice.

Father David Kelly is the director Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation which operates out of a center in an old school on Chicago’s south side. There, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood minister in the Back of the Yards neighborhood and beyond. They offer a place of safety to neighborhood youth and families; operate work and study programs; take a stand against the senseless violence that ruins so many lives; and reach out to the lonely and forsaken through their prison ministry.

Dominique Gilliard is an ordained minister, advocate, speaker, and author. He wrote the book Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores and is the current director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation for the Evangelical Covenant Church's initiative Love Mercy Do Justice.

State Representative David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids) is currently serving his full term in the Michigan house of Representatives and is the political face of criminal justice reform. LaGrand will provide an inside-political look at Michigan's criminal justice landscape and specific legislative areas for reform.

Dr. Charlotte Van-Oyen Witvliet is a professor of psychology at Hope College and specializes in forgiveness and its emotional and psychophysiological effects. Dr. Witvliet also studies empathy, accountability, and hope, themes which will be discussed at the conference.

Jerline Riley is a mother, advocate, and speaker. She lost her son in 2012 and has been going to conferences and events, speaking about restorative justice and forgiveness. She will share part of her story and have a brief interview with Dr. Michelle Loyd-Paige, the associate the the President for Inclusion and Diversity at Calvin College.

Join us on October 13th to explore how Hope, Healing, and Radical Reconciliation is possible and restorative justice attainable for those effected by incarceration. And, how you can participate!

Intellectual Disability and the Sabbath Structure of the Human Person [AUDIO]

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Intellectual Disability and the Sabbath Structure of the Human Person

The increased visibility of people with intellectual disabilities has raised important questions about what it means to be human. Some have argued that those with intellectual disabilities are not persons.  Others have argued that in order to include people with disabilities we need to reject traditional notions of human nature.  As Christians, how should we think about intellectual disability?  Has the Christian tradition generally oppressed those with disabilities or upheld their dignity?  Is disability part of God's intention in creation or is it a consequence of the Fall?  Finally, how can we take seriously the real suffering that occurs for people with intellectual disabilities and their families, while also accounting for the mysterious, transformative power that the intellectually disabled so often exert on those who live with them?  

On Thursday, October 3 Jared Ortiz, associate professor of religion at Hope College and director of the Saint Benedict Institute, addressed these questions in light of the Catholic tradition, especially the theology of the sabbath at the Authenticum Lecture Series at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Grand Rapids.

Authenticum seeks to awaken as many people as possible to the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness of the Catholic Faith by sponsoring ongoing exciting lectures on the humanities (history, literature, music, philosophy, liturgy, patristics, theology, catechesis, etc.) in the spirit of Philippians 4:8 -"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

Authenticum is hosted by Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Grand Rapids Michigan. It is dedicated to the New Evangelization and is one of our region’s most distinguished Catholic lecture series.

Lectures take place on the first Thursday of the month, August through May. Authenticum begins with a wine and cheese social at 6:30 p.m. and continues with talks by important Catholic thinkers at 7:00 p.m. Convivial discussion continues after the lectures and usually lasts well into the evening.

Harry Potter and Spiritual Warfare: Defending Your Soul Against the Dark Arts

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Harry Potter and Spiritual Warfare: Defending Your Soul Against the Dark Arts

September 7, 14, and 21 (Fridays)

Herrick Room (Dewitt 2nd Floor)

5:00PM - 7:00PM

Current students gathered to participate in a three-week dinner and workshop on Harry Potter and Spiritual Warfare: Defending Your Soul Against the Dark Arts. Fr. Nick Monco O.P., the Saint Benedict Institute chaplain and resident Harry Potter expert, will gave a short lecture each week followed by time for questions and discussion. 


Meet Our Campus Missionary

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Meet Our Campus Missionary

Meet Our Campus Missionary: An interview with Carly McShane, the Saint Benedict Institute's new Campus Missionary and Assistant Program Coordinator.

Where are you from and where did you go to college?

I was born and raised in Normal, Illinois.  I went to school at Hope where I graduated with a degree in Church History and Theology as well as a minor in dance. 

I understand that you are a recent convert to Catholicism.  Why did you become a Catholic?

I didn’t grow up in the Church but both of my parents were raised in Catholic families.  In 8th grade I started attending a nondenominational church with some friends.  I went there all through high school and I encountered Jesus and the Scriptures for the first time.  In college I was able to read some accounts of the early martyrs.  I remember reading the letters of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, a martyr who was mauled by lions in the 2nd century.  In one of his letters he writes,  “I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.”  I was awestruck when I read that and I was roused by St. Ignatius’s willingness to die for the truth, to die for Christ.  The martyrs' identification with Christ’s sacrifice helped me to understand the nature of the Eucharist more deeply.

Did the Eucharist play an important role in your conversion?

Certainly! I started attending Mass and I saw something happening before me.  There is no other way to explain it but I began to understand that the Lord was present in the Catholic Church in a special way.   It stirred in me the desire to love God with the same love of the martyrs, giving myself to Him to the point of death and in that death receiving life.  I began to know the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist in which Christ’s sacrifice is re-presented to us.  We receive the divine life of Jesus Christ as a gift from God and at the same time we also offer ourselves to God in gratitude and thanksgiving.  Here, in the Mass, I was being called to give myself to God as He wanted to give Himself to me.

When did you officially enter into the Catholic Church? 

As I continued to read and pray about these things I could no longer resist Christ’s call to come to Him and to His Church.  During my final year of school I entered into the Right of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) at St. Francis de Sales parish and eventually came into full communion with the Catholic Church in February of 2017.  It has been an emotional homecoming.  I often find myself overwhelmed by the beauty and truth that I have experienced in the Catholic Church and I look forward to growing in faith and continuing to experience the riches of the Tradition more deeply.

What do you think are the main reasons that so many young people are not engaging with the Church today?

There are so many possible answers to pick from!  I think one main reason is a lack of vulnerability.  Young people are often disconnected from one another and from God.  We don’t know how to develop deep and enduring friendships because we are often afraid to open up with those closest to us or even with ourselves.  There is an inability to see the reality of who we are.  When we do see that reality we are often afraid to share it for fear of rejection or what others might think of us.  Another reason is the culture of immediate gratification.  We want what we what when we want it, but the spiritual life doesn’t work like that.  In reality, it is often full of challenges and suffering.  Many young people don’t know how to suffer or are unwilling to do so.

What are some effective strategies that you are aware of to evangelize our youth?

Relationships.  This is how Christ formed the Church.  He chose twelve men to share his life with and he didn’t abandon those men when they didn’t understand Him, asked stupid questions, or even betrayed Him.  Sharing life with one another is what Christ asks us to do because it is what He does with us.

Why were you interested in becoming a full-time member of the Saint Benedict Institute staff?

The Saint Benedict Institute has had a great impact on my life.  The Lord brought me into His Body, the Church through these people.  I have seen the value of this work in my own life and I know I have been called to share that with more students at Hope.  In the little time I have spent working with the Institute I have come to love campus ministry.  Over the last year I have been doing student outreach on a voluntary basis and I wanted to continue investing in those relationships.

Your job expands in the Fall to include serving as a campus missionary.  What does being a campus missionary mean, and what are the first things you want to tackle in this new role?

My official job description says that my role is to cultivate friendships with students, build them up in Christ, and help them discover how to serve God in the world.  Ultimately, I think that means being a joyful Catholic presence on campus.  I want to be someone students can talk to, someone they can come to with questions or challenges.  Some of my immediate goals are to foster a greater devotion to Our Lady in our campus community and to find ways to connect older students with underclassmen.