College Honors Benedictine Heritage

Samantha Jette, Copy Editor

Saint Anselm College celebrated its third annual Benedictine Heritage week from March 18-22, presented by the Council on Being Catholic and Benedictine. The week’s events consisted of discussions and education regarding the Benedictine tradition and its history. The week allows students, faculty, and alumni to acknowledge and celebrate the college’s Benedictine roots.

Jordan Bergeron ‘21 is a student member of the Council on Being Catholic and Benedictine, and was a key member in organizing the week’s events. Bergeron served on a sub-committee to plan the events, along with Chris Millett ‘21, and College Archivist Keith Chevalier.

“I think it’s so important to have a week like this to emphasize the mission of the college as one that is both hospitable and stable. I think in the hustle and bustle of classes and college itself, it’s easy to lose track of why we choose to do the things we do, why we chose to be at Saint A’s, and why that matters. It’s important to recenter and remember the meaning behind the work we are doing,” Bergeron said on the importance of Benedictine Heritage Week.

Bergeron also applied Benedictine values to Saint Anselm students’ future careers: “For many, whether they know it or not, the Benedictine values inspire the woodworks we aspire to do. For instance, [the value of] love of Christ and Neighbor. Teachers, nurses, social workers, you name it, aspire to better love their neighbor and for many, in doing so they show love to God too.”

Benedictine Heritage week kicked off on Monday, with Artifacts in the Abbey Church. At this program, Father Mathias Durette gathered with attendees in the Abbey Church to share details of the Church’s history, as well as discuss artifacts.

Monday’s programming also included Integrating the Benedictine Hallmarks in to Social Work and Service. Students, alumni, and faculty joined in a discussion about the importance of Benedictine hallmarks in social work, sociology, and service-based learning.

On Tuesday, Geisel Library hosted College Heritage Night. During this event, the library’s Archives and Special Collections opened their doors for the college community to explore current projects and new additions to the rare book collection.

Wednesday included a Byzantine Mass in the lower Abbey Church shared by Father Patrick Sullivan, who spoke about the Eastern Catholic Rite. A reception was held with refreshments following the mid-day mass.

An installment of the Soup and Spirit Lenten Lunch Series: Into the Wilderness also took place on Wednesday. At the lunch, Elisabeth Pope, ‘19 shared her experiences with her faith.

On Thursday, the Abbey Church held mass in honor of the Solemnity of the Passing of Saint Benedict. Class schedules were modified on this day to allow students and professors to be able to attend the mass.

Bergeron attended Thursday’s mass, as well as the Integrating the Benedictine Hallmarks in to Social Work and Service held on Monday.

“Both were beautiful experiences and aimed to highlight the ways in which Benedictine values can impact our everyday life, professional or otherwise,” she said of the events.

Thursday also featured the Encounter Saint Benedict event, a three hour retreat in the Lower Church, catered to the busy college student. Students discovered how to develop a greater sense of God’s presence in their lives through monastic practices and values, according to a pamphlet emailed school-wide by Susan Gabert.

Professor Kevin Staley and Father Anselm Smedile lead a beer tasting event in the Pub called Beer and Benedictines on Thursday night as well. The 21+ event featured discussion about the Benedictine history of brewing beer.

Benedictine Heritage Week ended with Haustus: Seeking a Purpose Driven Life on Friday in the Pub. The event upholds the monastic tradition of Haustus, which consists of joining together for food and conversation.

As a Benedictine institution, Saint Anselm College was founded in the Benedictine tradition. The tradition can be traced back to Saint Benedict of Nursia (480-547), who developed a set of rules for Christian monastic life. Today, Saint Anselm students study The Rule of Saint Benedict in their first year Conversatio courses. The complete Rule can be found on the College website as well.

Saint Anselm College is one of 16 members of the Association of Benedictine Colleges and Universities (ABCU). This group of Benedictine institutions of higher learning produced the “Education Within a Benedictine Tradition” in 2007, according to the College website. This document explains the underlying principles to a Benedictine approach to education, and also includes ten hallmarks of such an education. These hallmarks are prevalent in several of the Benedictine Heritage Week programs.