CV NEWS FEED // They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and a recent viral photo of a college president praying the rosary with students tells the story of one Catholic college in Kansas.
Stephen Minnis, president of Benedictine College, began the 2023 school year as he always does: praying a rosary with students on the first day of classes.
A photo of Minnis praying the rosary with students quickly went viral on social media, after Catholic journalist Sachin Jose tweeted the photo on his X page, which received over 64,400 views.
But this event was not out of the ordinary. Every Wednesday, Minnis and Benedictine students pray a rosary before school at 7:30 a.m., a tradition that began over a decade ago when the school consecrated itself to the Blessed Mother.
“In 2013, we formally consecrated the college to our Blessed Mother, and we put the entire college in her hands and asked her to continue to bless and intercede on the college’s behalf so great things would happen,” said Minnis, in an interview with CatholicVote. “Once we did that, unbelievable things began to happen here at the college, and so that consecration has been really important.”
Since being consecrated, the school has seen increased enrollment, record growth, and expanded its academic offerings – all under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin.
“When people ask me, ‘Why are we having this success?’, I always point to two things: Number one, we embraced our mother. And the second thing was that we embraced our mission,” said Minnis. “I decided that every Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m., I would lead a rosary for the college, and we would pray for strength and faith life on our campus. And we pray for our students.”
Even as the school accepts more students each year, Minnis continues to sign each acceptance letter himself. As he signs the letters, he says each student’s name aloud and prays for that student.
“I pray a Hail Mary for each accepted student that Mary will intercede on their behalf and bring them to Benedictine College,” said Minnis. “As I tell freshmen every year, there’s thousands of young people going to college just like them. Each one of them says ‘that I chose this college or I picked this college’ but at Benedictine College, Mary chose them to be here to be educated within a community of faith and scholarship.”
Praying for each student and leading a weekly rosary is not just a part of Minnis’ job; he has made it part of his personal devotion. Every day, Minnis prays a rosary and lights a candle at the school’s grotto asking for the Blessed Mother’s intercession.
“Part of my devotion to Our Lady comes from my wife, Amy, who challenged me when we got married to pray the rosary every day,” said Minnis. “I was reminded of this in 2017, which was the 100 year anniversary of the apparitions in Fatima and Our Lady of Fatima told the children and told the world to pray the rosary every day. She didn’t say ‘Oh, pray when you’re comfortable or pray when you have time’. She said pray the rosary every day, and so… I’ve committed myself to do that.”
His deep fidelity and love for the rosary has led to some other memorable social media moments.
A video circulated throughout the Benedictine student body last year showing Minnis climbing into a dumpster searching for his rosary’s crucifix after it got caught on a trash bag.
“I had my rosary in my hand while throwing a bag of trash into the dumpster; the trash bag caught the crucifix on my rosary, and it popped it off almost in slow motion,” said Minnis. “I saw the crucifix go into the dumpster.”
“Of course, I needed to rescue the crucifix, so I jumped in the dumpster, found the crucifix, and jumped out. Unbeknownst to me, people in the library were watching and filming me do this. So of course it was sent on social media, and so I became the dumpster diving president.”
Through his devotion to the rosary, Minnis inspires students to live a life of prayer and strive to be authentic Catholic leaders in the world.
“President Minnis provides a great example of servant leadership through leading students in the weekly rosary,” said Benedictine student Henry Kemme. “He is a great model of holiness and what it means to be a Christian leader.”
Minnis met with a group of student leaders this week to plan for the school’s upcoming reconsecration to Mary, on September 8th. Every day, students pray the rosary at the grotto, asking Mary to continue to bless and protect the college.
“The real heroes in this story are really our students,” said Minnis. “What they’re doing every day and how they are committed to the faith is really inspiring. If I can be an example to them, and especially to the young men at the school, that having a devotion to Our Lady is powerful and important, then I will be happy.”