By J.D. Benning
Special to The Leaven
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Over 700 people gathered to support the prayer and work of the monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison at the fourth annual Abbot’s Table at the Sheraton Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The monks presented the Lumen Vitae Medal to past Supreme Knight of Columbus Virgil Dechant and his wife Ann, and to past Benedictine College president Dr. Dan Carey and his wife Terri.
The event offered guests a look into the lives of the monks through a series of dramatic and humorous videos, which have become the signature of the Abbot’s Table.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas said that “the videos are more anticipated than any Super Bowl ad!”
Abbot James Albers, OSB, announced that the monks received an anonymous $100,000 challenge gift to sustain their lives of prayer and work. The guests responded with generosity sufficient to meet the challenge.
Abbot Barnabas Senecal, OSB, began the evening with a heartwarming rendition of “O God, You Search Me.” Event emcee Benedictine College professor Dr. Edward Mulholland expressed his gratitude to the monks and remarked that his children — in grade school, high school, and college — attend schools at which monks serve as chaplains and on the faculty and staff.
“This has to be rare. In fact, I don’t know anywhere else in the world where this is even possible,” said Mulholland. “It is a unique circumstance that highlights how unique these men of God are.”
As Abbot James prepared to present the Lumen Vitae Medal to Virgil and Ann Dechant, he was joined on stage by an honor guard of 30 fourth-degree Knights of Columbus. More than 75 Knights attended to honor the Dechants’ lives of service and hear Virgil Dechant’s impassioned remarks on religious liberty.
“I feel confident that the defense of the natural right to religious liberty is as congenial to the sons and daughters of St. Benedict as it is to the Knights of Columbus. Today it is under attack,” he said. “In thanking you for the honor you have bestowed on Ann and me, I wish you well in your continuing efforts on behalf of evangelization and religious freedom.”
A plethora of friends and Benedictine College alumni and supporters were on hand to praise the work of Dan and Terri Carey as well. Dan Carey offered his gratitude to the monks.
“We are here not to be honored but to pay tribute to you and your sponsored educational communities,” he said. “Terri and I are here tonight with grateful hearts. In the end, it’s about all of us working together in order to leave a special college, an abbey or a monastery better than we found it.”
The event closed with an announcement that the fifth Abbot’s Table banquet will be held April 22, 2017, at the Sheraton Crown Center. The Lumen Vitae Medal will be presented to Elmer Fangman, a friend of the monks and past dean of Benedictine College, and Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Bishop Barron is renowned for his work with Word on Fire ministries and a variety of other media.