Saint Benedict’s Magazine Summer 2021

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Bringing the past to light With the help of undergrad research

INSIDE 10 Uncovering history 18 Searching for answers 22 What happens next?




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Uncovering history Searching for answers What happens next?


1 Message From the President 2 Worth 1,000 Words 4 News 26 I’m a Bennie 27 Class Notes 34 Bennie Connection 37 Generosity

The College of Saint Benedict Magazine is published three times a year by the office of Institutional Advancement. EDITOR Greg Skoog (SJU ’89) ASSISTANT EDITOR Abby Hansen ’12 CONTRIBUTORS Ellen Hunter Gans ’05 Paul Middlestaedt Tommy O’Laughlin (SJU ’13) COVER PHOTO Belen Benway ’21 is conducting research in the Saint Benedict’s Monastery archives. Photo by Paul Middlestaedt. CONTACT College of Saint Benedict Magazine Institutional Advancement 37 South College Avenue St. Joseph, MN 56374-2099 For address changes, please call 1-800-648-3468, ext. 1 or email Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer The mission of the College of Saint Benedict is to provide for women the very best residential liberal arts education in the Catholic and Benedictine traditions. The college fosters integrated learning, exceptional leadership for change and wisdom for a lifetime.

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Our vision in action The College of Saint Benedict has long stood for challenging norms. We built a college for women when they didn’t even have the right to vote and were regularly told a college education wasn’t for them. We welcomed Black students in the 1940s even when our alumnae told us that was wrong. We continue to graduate women who break ground in their professional lives – whether leading Fortune 100 companies, conducting research at the nation’s top universities or teaching and mentoring a bright new generation. Now, Saint Ben’s is challenging norms in a new way. This issue of the Saint Ben’s magazine lifts up groundbreaking research being conducted by faculty and students into the Native American boarding schools run by the Order of Saint Benedict in the 19th and 20th centuries. During that time, the United States Government implemented a policy of using boarding schools for Native American children as a tool to promote assimilation of Native American children into the dominant culture. Attendance was mandated.

This issue of the Saint Ben’s magazine lifts up groundbreaking research being conducted by faculty and students into the Native American boarding schools run by the Order of Saint Benedict in the 19th and 20th centuries.” This practice had a devastating impact on Indigenous individuals, communities and families. Four of those Native American boarding schools in Minnesota were operated by the Order of Saint Benedict. One of them here in St. Joseph, on the grounds of Saint Benedict’s Monastery. CSB/SJU Visiting Assistant Professor of sociology Ted Gordon and a number of student researchers have been working with the monastery and the White Earth Nation to investigate and explore this history. As Prioress Susan Rudolph, OSB puts it, the three organizations seek to “strengthen the bonds that continue to move toward reconciliation and peace with our Native American sisters and brothers.” We are not unique for having historical ties to Native American boarding schools. What makes Saint Ben’s unique is the work we are doing collaboratively with tribes on projects that they identify that will help them heal. If we can show how much good can come from this, we can be a model for institutions that have yet to address their history. This essential research work is being noticed. Grant-funding organizations are paying attention and offering support. This spring the college was awarded grants from both the Council of Independent Colleges and the McKnight Foundation to

fund aspects of this archival research. The McKnight grant is a first of its kind, with a tribal community, college and monastery working together to conduct oral histories to preserve and tell all sides of this history. The world is taking notice as well. Last month, PBS NewsHour told the story of this collaborative effort and the work being done by Gordon and our students. At the same time, Indigenous students across both campuses are coming together to find their collective voice. Many have worked together to form the new Indigenous Students Association, filled with determination to tell their story. Faith Gronda ’22, a member of ISA, has received national recognition for her efforts to center Native voices here at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s. Faith is currently taking part in a Newman Civic Fellowship through Campus Compact. In this issue of the College of Saint Benedict Magazine, you’ll learn more about all of this. And, from page 1, I want to express my gratitude to our Indigenous students, the White Earth Nation and to the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict for allowing us to walk through this process with them. I am grateful for their trust and for the opportunities this has provided our students to engage in practical, valuable scholarship and to tell an important story. A largely untold story. The vision of Saint Ben’s is to be recognized as a community that provides a liberal arts education preparing women to think critically, lead courageously and advocate passionately. To learn, to see, to analyze, to correct, to act with purpose. Inside you’ll find students putting our vision into action.

Laurie M. Hamen, J.D. College of Saint Benedict Transitional President Summer 2021 | 1


ELBOW ROOM On a perfect Saturday afternoon in May, the College of Saint Benedict class of 2021 took a few more steps than most to cross the stage and receive their diplomas. The socially distanced ceremony, held in Clemens Stadium at Saint John’s University, was showcased on projection screens throughout the stadium and live streamed for loved ones beyond each grad’s allotted two.

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Dr. James Mullen Named Transitional President of Saint John’s University “He’s an experienced president, and he’s got a great track record in higher education. We are pleased to have Jim’s leadership and guidance to help us with this unique transitional year,” said SJU Board Chair Dan McKeown (SJU ’85).

Dr. James Mullen Jr. has been named transitional president of Saint John’s University by the SJU Board of Trustees.

“I’m tremendously honored to join the Saint John’s community at this moment in its history,” said Mullen, whose duties as president officially started June 1. “The Benedictine tradition and their devotion to higher education and community is inspiring. To have a chance to be part of this educational community during this transitional period is both exciting and humbling.” “I’m enthused to partner with Jim as we guide these institutions through

this process of integrating more closely,” said CSB Transitional President Laurie Hamen. “He brings a fresh new set of insights and a strong history of collaboration.” Mullen follows Dr. Eugene McAllister, who served as interim president for the past two years. President McAllister will be returning to his family in Montana, and Saint John’s is deeply grateful for his service. The Boards of Trustees of Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s plan to lead a search for the first joint president of the two institutions later this fall, pending approval by the Higher Learning Commission.

Update on Strong Integration Since late 2018, the CSB and SJU Boards of Trustees have been working toward stronger integration of governance and leadership structures to simplify processes and decision-making across our two institutions. In late April, CSB and SJU submitted their application to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), seeking approval of a change to the governance and leadership structure. The HLC is expected to decide on the application by late fall 2021. Once the change of structure is approved and executed, CSB and SJU will operate under boards with common members, a single president, and more integrated administrative leadership. This new governance and leadership structure is being referred to as “Strong Integration.” The long-standing “Coordinate Relationship” between CSB and SJU demonstrates a history of delivering excellent outcomes through an outstanding joint academic program. Strong Integration is a natural extension and strengthening of that current relationship. It is not a merger of the

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Newly instated SJU Transitional President Dr. James Mullen agrees. “The goal is to create the best experience for our students. The approach we are pursuing is innovative and could provide a model for other institutions around the nation.” two institutions; the college and university will remain two separate institutions aligned with their respective sponsoring monastic communities. Strong Integration necessitates no changes to the joint academic program, the admission of students or the separate conferring of degrees. “The common denominator,” said CSB Transitional President Laurie Hamen, “is the search for nimble and efficient frameworks for decision making and use of resources. This is a unique and innovative model.”

The collaborative work of the two institutions and two founding monastic communities is a vital part of what makes the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University such beloved and special places. According to a statement from Barb Brandes, Chair of the CSB Board of Trustees, and Dan McKeown, Chair of the SJU Board of Trustees, “This process has been guided throughout by the Benedictine values, the institutions’ missions, and the needs of our students, and we are proud to take this historic step in our shared history.”


Updates on Upcoming Alum Events


Due to ongoing limitations and challenges related to COVID-19 restrictions on group gatherings, and the overwhelming feedback from alums that they prefer an in-person Reunion experience when it is safe to do so, CSB/SJU have made some tweaks, changes and adjustments in order to make sure every class gets the best opportunity for the best reunion experience possible. CSB/SJU Class of 2020 Celebration

It’s too soon to call this a Reunion, so let’s call it a “Celebration.” There will be food, drinks, fun, games, a unique joint commencement ceremony – and we’ll top it off with a band at Sal’s. Come on back, 2020 alums. Let’s take another crack at this! Saturday, Sept. 11, will be a special celebration specifically for the class of 2020, featuring activities on both campuses, with food and entertainment. CSB/SJU Class Years Ending in 0 and 5 Alums from 0 and 5 years had their reunion postponed last summer. When the decision was made to postpone summer reunions again in 2021, we consulted with class volunteers from 0 and 5 classes. Rather than waiting one more summer, we’re excited to bring 0 and 5 alums back to campus for a special one-day reunion event on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. “I am thrilled that all the classes 0 and 5 will finally be able to gather on campus,” said JoBeth Pike Ranfranz ’80, board development chair for the CSB Alumnae Board. “The Bennie and Johnnie friendships sparkle even brighter when we can be together in person, renewing our brother and sisterhood.”

There’s no arguing with the fact that the class of 2020 missed out on some of the most iconic events of their senior year. So this fall we want to get them all back together for a bit of a do-over.

There’s a lot to pack into a one-day Reunion. And you won’t want to miss any of it.

• Kick-off at Saint Ben’s • Lunch on the Mall • Special celebration for the class of 1970 • Alum College sessions at Saint John’s • Social hour • Reunion awards dinner • Big Toe and the Jam at Sal’s CSB/SJU Class Years Ending in 1 and 6 We worked with class volunteers over the past year with the intent to bring you safely to campus in June 2021 to celebrate Reunion. But, based on conditions at the time we needed to make a decision, the outlook for a large, in-person gathering just wasn’t clear. And, in collaboration with class volunteers who greatly prefer an in-person reunion as close to “normal” as possible, we made the decision to postpone summer Reunion 2021. We will celebrate 1 and 6 alums for a special Reunion weekend on July 8-10, 2022. CSB/SJU Class Years Ending in 2 and 7 That means the campuses of Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s are going to be extralively next summer! Because Reunion 2022, for alums from class years ending in 2 and 7, is scheduled, as usual, for the weekend of June 24-26, 2022. We have absolutely missed every one of you over the last 16 months. Let’s start making some plans for getting together. It’s time to rekindle some community! Find out the latest at

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Fiscal Year 2021 Recap – It Was a BIG Year for Scholarships College of Saint Benedict alumnae and friends didn’t let obstacles like a global pandemic keep them from rallying throughout the year in support of scholarships for nearly all of our students. Even if we weren’t face-to-face, it was definitely a busy year. This magazine went to print before the end of the month. But the fact that we were close enough to have a shot at this year’s annual goal of $2,840,907 is remarkable. We’re grateful for that trust and support from our alumnae and friends!

One Impressive Day On Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, the entire Saint Ben’s community came together supporting scholarships for all of today’s Bennies. With help from generous matching grant donors, 949 alumnae, parents, faculty, staff, friends and students rallied to contribute an incredible $562,131 in one 24-hour period. The total smashed the $500,000 goal and is a single-day giving record for Saint Ben’s. Sustaining Success One area where Saint Ben’s is a recognized industry leader is in our Saint Ben’s Sustainers program. Bennie alumnae and friends understand the simplicity of setting recurring, automatic gifts at a level that’s comfortable for them. Sustainers also see the impact that regular, recurring monthly or quarterly gifts can have on the college and our students. During fiscal year 2021, 19.4% of our donors to the Annual Giving program were Sustainers, making CSB one of the best-performing sustaining programs in the country. You can join in on this sustained success by becoming a Sustainer at It takes just a few minutes.

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Student Emergency Fund Update When students were sent home in 2020, we were proud of the way the college was able to deploy the modest Student Emergency Fund that was on hand to help with unexpected expenses. But we learned from the experience. That’s why we’ve chosen to direct the ongoing reward dollars from our institutional credit card account toward the purpose of building a stronger Student Emergency Fund. And we’ve reached out to donors to help us build a more stable and reliable fund for things like … • Help with a plane ticket for a loved one’s funeral.

Breonna Taylor Scholarship Update During fiscal year 2021, alumnae, friends, faculty, staff and students of Saint Ben’s continued taking steps to create an anti-racist campus community. As one part of that effort, alumnae and the college worked together to create an endowed scholarship to “support the educational promise of young Black American leaders”: the Breonna Taylor Scholarship for Racial Justice. This scholarship will support women with financial need whose identities are under-represented at CSB, with special consideration given to Black or AfricanAmerican women. We’re pleased to report that funding for the endowed scholarship has reached the point where recipients are being selected for this fall. This year we have around $2,500 from the Breonna Taylor scholarship to award. You can make a gift toward this scholarship at Simply type “Breonna Taylor” in the Comments box.

• Covering part of the bill for unanticipated dental care. • Bridging the gap when unforeseen circumstances impact regular living expenses. Scholarship gifts will always be important. They provide access to deserving students. But once those students are here, we want to make sure they’re able to meet their needs. So we’re happy to note that today that Student Emergency Fund holds $100,000. You can support the fund at Simply type “Student Emergency Fund” in the Comments box.

Rallying for CSB Athletics Wednesday, Feb. 24, was the second annual CSB Athletics Give Day. For 24 hours, hundreds pulled together – former athletes, long-time fans, parents of current and former student-athletes, staff, faculty – to support their favorite programs, with a goal of rallying 500 donors. Financial gifts like these give our athletic department the flexibility to build programs that develop our studentathletes and make us all cheer. Total donors 657 Total dollars $102,594 Top teams (donors) Track/CC (140) Softball (134) Top teams (dollars) Basketball ($19,009) Softball ($18,025)


Congratulations, Class of 2021!

L to R: Abbey Witham (Lino Lakes, Minn.), Steffi Tapsoba (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso), Raven Dames (Nassau, Bahamas) and Derica Ferguson (Nassau, Bahamas)

On Saturday, May 15, the 449 members of the CSB class of 2021 received their diplomas and joined the ranks of Bennie alumnae. The ceremony, held outdoors in Clemens Stadium at Saint John’s, was kept intentionally brief (there was no external commencement speaker) and was limited to two guests per graduate.

Rylan Bistodeau (Delano, Minn.) and Breanna Hess (Sartell, Minn.)

Kaylee McGovern (Lynnwood, Wash.) and D’Havian Scott (Nassau, Bahamas)

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Honor Society Inductees Fifty-three students (42 seniors and 11 juniors) from CSB/SJU were inducted this year into the Theta of Minnesota Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society.

The following inductees, all liberal arts and/or sciences majors, were selected by CSB/SJU faculty who are members of Phi Beta Kappa: Leandria Albury ’21, Nassau, Bahamas Elena Anderla ’21, Appleton, Wisconsin Daniel Bachmeier ’21, Long Prairie, Minnesota Samuel Black ’21, Minneapolis, Minnesota Samantha Bruce ’21, Cottage Grove, Minnesota Samuel Colella ’21, Tacoma, Washington Jacob Czech ’21, Kewaunee, Wisconsin Maximilian Ditzler ’21, Eagle River, Alaska Belen Dominguez ’21, Cicero, Illinois Elliot Edeburn ’21, Sartell, Minnesota Anne Marie Griebie ’21, Minnetonka, Minnesota Mitchell Hansen ’21, Cold Spring, Minnesota Usama Hassan ’21, Waite Park, Minnesota Johanna Jernberg ’21, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota Molly Kiley ’21, Rochester, Minnesota Michael Klonowski ’21, Rice Lake, Wisconsin Margaret Kobs ’21, Maple Grove, Minnesota Jane Koll ’21, Winona, Minnesota Mengzhen Li ’21, Zhengzhou, China William Matuska ’21, Cold Spring, Minnesota Molly Meyer ’21, St. Michael, Minnesota

Joshua Mikos ’21, Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota Emma Murphy ’21, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin Ellen Otto ’21, Oshkosh, Wisconsin Karen Phillips ’21, Bozeman, Montana Laurel Poole ’21, Longview, Washington Amanda Schmitz ’21, West St. Paul, Minnesota Jena Schroepfer ’21, Sleepy Eye, Minnesota Joseph Schwamm ’21, Littleton, Colorado D’Havian Scott ’21, Nassau, Bahamas Caitlyn Shipp ’21, Eden Prairie, Minnesota Kathryn Sohm ’21, Minneapolis, Minnesota Jenna Steichen ’21, Overland Park, Kansas Steffi Tapsoba ’21, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso Nikolas Thompson ’21, Palm Harbor, Florida Ryan Thompson ’21, Edina, Minnesota Katherine Wagner ’21, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Flannery White ’21, Duluth, Minnesota Drew Wilds ’21, Eden Prairie, Minnesota Abbegayle Witham ’21, Lino Lakes, Minnesota Colin Yokanovich ’21, Eagan, Minnesota Jordan Zachmann ’21, Montgomery, Minnesota Yunyiyi Chen ’22, Chengdu, China Anna Cole ’22, Bloomington, Minnesota Maria Determan ’22, Omaha, Nebraska Megan Greenberg ’22, Elk River, Minnesota

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Olivia Hoff ’22, Rushford, Minnesota Channa Kalsow ’22, Hudson, Wisconsin William Lee ’22, Fallbrook, California Grace Savard ’22, Arden Hills, Minnesota Olivia Solano ’22, Grayslake, Illinois Zoe Witham ’22, Lino Lakes, Minnesota Julian Yaruro Carreno ’22, San Jose de Cúcuta, Colombia

Twenty-five Bennies (10 seniors, 15 juniors) were inducted this year into the Omega Chapter of Delta Epsilon Sigma, the elite national Catholic honor society. Students are selected based on a combination of academic performance and community involvement. This year’s inductees included: Charlotte Rose Bjorn Frisk ’21, Broomfield, Colorado Abigail Braun ’21, Apple Valley, Minnesota Anna Hammer ’21, Lakeville, Minnesota Catherine Jaroszewski ’21, Frazee, Minnesota Margaret Kobs ’21, Maple Grove, Minnesota Jane Koll ’21, Winona, Minnesota Isabella Lovinger ’21, Savage, Minnesota Sarah Neve ’21, Minnetrista, Minnesota Katherine Wagner ’21, Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin Aubrey Walter ’21, Billings, Montana

Elizabeth Botz ’22, St. Joseph, Minnesota Sarah Broghammer ’22, Winona, Minnesota Julia Buntrock ’22, Rochester, Minnesota Olivia Hoff ’22, Rushford, Minnesota Kennedy Kehr ’22, Coon Rapids, Minnesota Brianna Kreft ’22, Elbow Lake, Minnesota Rachel Leen ’22, Sauk Rapids, Minnesota Gabriella Lott ’22, Duluth, Minnesota Jaiden McCollum ’22, Park Rapids, Minnesota Caitlin O’Toole ’22, Eden Prairie, Minnesota Tracy Renier ’22, Plymouth, Minnesota Grace Savard ’22, Arden Hills, Minnesota Kate Schiltz ’22, Minnetonka, Minnesota Olivia Solano ’22, Grayslake, Illinois Claire Westby ’22, Lake Elmo, Minnesota

Induction into Sigma Beta Delta is reserved for highachieving majors in business and accounting. This year the following 25 CSB/SJU students (15 SJU, 10 CSB) were honored: Mya Bowe ’21, Nassau Bahamas Reiley Huntoon ’21, Rochester, Minnesota Cade McComber ’21, Andover, Minnesota

Danielle Werning ’21, Carver, Minnesota Abigail Worthington ’21, Maple Grove, Minnesota Benjamin Allen ’22, Maple Grove, Minnesota Avery Bentrott ’22, Blaine, Minnesota Dillon Diekmann ’22, Lake Elmo, Minnesota Joshua Elstad ’22, Lakeville, Minnesota Mitchell Gerlach ’22, Cloquet, Minnesota Yunhua Gong ’22, Chengdu, China Michael Kuhn ’22, Alexandria, Minnesota Grace Lee ’22, Portland, Oregon Joseph Linders ’22, Circle Pines, Minnesota Jaiden McCollum ’22, Park Rapids, Minnesota Jerome Newhouse ’22, Shorewood, Minnesota Andrew Pearson ’22, St. Cloud, Minnesota Julia Pias ’22, Maple Grove, Minnesota Annika Rzeszutek ’22, St. Francis, Minnesota Brady Sabolik ’22, Kensington, Minnesota Anthony Samson ’22, Maple Grove, Minnesota Peter Schroeder ’22, Plymouth, Minnesota Noah Schumacher ’22, Edina, Minnesota Olivia Tikalsky ’22, Lakeville, Minnesota Henry Trost ’22, Lindstrom, Minnesota


A Sensational Spring With TWO Bennie All Americas BY | LEAH RADO

Elly Novak ’23 (Montgomery, Minn.)

Fiona Smith ’24 (Dhahran, Saudi Arabia)

Neither Elly Novak nor Fiona Smith knew what to expect heading into their respective 2021 seasons. Novak, a sophomore pitcher for the College of Saint Benedict softball team, had seen limited time in the circle for the Bennies in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic cut the season short. Smith, a first-year on the track and field team, came to CSB from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where she competed mostly in road races against competition of all ages throughout her high school running career. The unknown didn’t seem to both either athlete as both wrapped up record-setting – and All-American – seasons this spring. “My mindset coming into this year was to work my butt off because I wasn’t sure how long the season was going to be, or if we were even going to have a season,” said Novak, who finished the year with 172 strikeouts and 17 wins – both CSB single-season records. She also earned Third Team All-America honors and is just the second All-American in program

history. “The records had never crossed my mind as something I wanted to accomplish this year.” Both athletes set the tone for their respective seasons right away. Novak – who made just four appearances in the circle in 2020 and struck out 21 batters – recorded a career-best 15 strikeouts in the team’s first game of the year. Smith broke CSB’s indoor record in the 3,000-meter run by more than 12 seconds in the first race of her collegiate career. “I honestly had no idea where I would be in comparison to others, both CSB and other teams,” said Smith, who set five school records – three indoor and two outdoor – in 2021. “I was hoping to be somewhere near the top of CSB’s team, but didn’t have real times to compare so I was pretty unsure.” Smith and Novak are both sure of themselves now. Smith – who became

the first athlete in CSB history to break 10 minutes in the indoor and outdoor 3,000-meter run – finished fifth in the 5,000-meter at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Greensboro, N.C., to earn All-America honors. Novak finished the year 11th in the nation with a 0.96 ERA and 12th with 172 strikeouts. “Each time that I am able to get a new PR or a new record, I just get so excited and can’t help but think about what else I can do,” Smith said. “Breaking records and running times for the first time in program history is still pretty surreal.” “I kept setting the bar higher for myself each time, like getting one more strikeout than the previous game,” Novak added. “My mindset heading into a game is that I have a part in every play and that I dictate how things go. If I am feeling hype and having fun, then my teammates are also hype and having fun.”

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Editor’s Note

This story belongs to the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict and the people of White Earth Nation. We are incredibly proud of and grateful for the trust they have placed in us to tell it as respectfully as we are able. We’re also proud of the diligent, scholarly research and plain old meticulous hard work by our faculty and undergraduate researchers. Their study and analysis demonstrate the best of the liberal arts.

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Uncovering history The Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict played an active role in an appalling part of American history. Learn what happened and what’s next.



This feature explores the story of federally driven boarding schools for Native American students. The article contains references that may trigger discomfort.

Photo of students in front of Saint Benedict’s Industrial School for Chippewa Girls, St. Joseph, Minnesota, 1887.

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“We acknowledge the injustice done through our community’s participation in the federal government Assimilation Policy to educate Native American youth at Saint Benedict’s Mission boarding school on the White Earth Reservation (1878-1945), St. Mary’s Mission on the Red Lake Reservation (1888-1940s) and the Industrial Boarding School (1884-1896) on our monastery campus. “Within the past two years the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict have been working in collaboration with the White Earth community and its Tribal Historic Preservation Office and the College of Saint Benedict to strengthen the bonds that continue to move toward reconciliation and peace with our Native American sisters and brothers.” – S. Susan Rudolph, OSB Prioress, Saint Benedict’s Monastery

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Uncovering history


n the 1880s and 1890s, children’s voices filled the air in St. Joseph as they learned their lessons at boarding schools run by the sisters of Saint Benedict’s Monastery. If you just skimmed that and thought, “Yep, I’ve heard this one before. They were daughters of German Catholic immigrants,” you might want to keep reading. The majority of those voices were Native. And they didn’t ask to be there. At that time, the monastery operated two schools in St. Joseph: Saint Benedict’s Academy (which later grew into the College of Saint Benedict) and Saint Benedict’s Industrial School for Chippewa* Girls. In 1888, 60% of the monastery’s students were in the industrial school, which as a primary purpose, aimed to force Native youth to assimilate to Christian norms.

What happened here was a systematic attempt to erase a culture. Beyond that, it meets the official criteria for genocide, as outlined by the United Nations in 1948 and ratified by the United States in 1988, because it involved “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Until now. Thanks to an extraordinary collaboration between representatives of three groups: the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, members of the Indigenous American community in Minnesota and the College of Saint Benedict, the story is being brought into the open.

And yet, if you are not Native American, this might well be the first you’ve heard of it. Ted Gordon, visiting assistant professor of sociology here at CSB/SJU, first learned of the boarding schools operated by the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict when he arrived on campus in 2013 and was eager to dig in and confront the past.

This is a story of aggressive ethnocentrism and government-sanctioned racism. It’s also a story of communities confronting an ugly truth with a commitment to work toward a measure of healing that leads toward reconciliation.

Outside the Indigenous American community, this information is housed not in families but rather buried in dusty archives, quietly tucked away.

Critically, for the Indigenous Americans and their families affected by these schools, this is not simply about trauma. This is a story about resilience. The resilience of individuals, families, communities – and an entire culture that withstood the unthinkable and looks forward.

If you are an Indigenous American, this isn’t breaking news. This story is raw and current. There are people alive who attended these schools. This is well-worn family lore for countless Indigenous American families, not just here but across the nation. Starting after the Civil War and extending well into the 20th century, around 500 of these schools housed a total of more than 100,000 childreni – some as young as two or three – who were abducted from their homes and subject to inadequate conditions and abuse, all under the pretense of “civilization.” Sixteen of these schools were in Minnesota. The Order of Saint Benedict ran four of them. One on the White Earth reservation. One on the Red Lake reservation. One on the grounds of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville.

Photo of Saint Benedict’s Mission School, White Earth Nation, 1890.

And one in St. Joseph, on the grounds of Saint Benedict’s Monastery.

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A national issue The practice of Native boarding schools in the U.S. dates to the early part of the 19th century. It gained traction (and the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict entered the picture) in the early 1870s when President Ulysses S. Grant kicked off his tenure with an eye toward “careful study” of Indigenous peoples and engagement via a so-called “Peace Policy” that ultimately proved to be anything but peaceful. The policy led to massacre, war, widespread government theft of Native land and sweeping attempts to assimilate people within Indigenous American communities. The assumption from those who instigated this assimilation was that Euro-American, Christian culture was inherently superior. By their standards, decrying, criminalizing and erasing Indigenous cultures amounted to “civilization.”

and forced attendance for Native students. Around the country, children as young as two or three were taken away from their parents and sent to schools where they were stripped of their culture. They were held to an imported and alien standard of achievement. And they were taught, in a language foreign to them, that what they knew and loved was wrong. They could be held until they were 21. Then they were told to return to their communities and spread the word. Don’t be fooled: Native boarding schools weren’t filling an educational gap. Indigenous American communities were not wanting for an education system. There was already a wellestablished system.

Local complicity

Much of this was a collaboration between church and state. As Richard Pratt, founder of the influential Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, noted to a convention of Baptist ministers in 1883, “I believe in immersing the Indians (sic) in our civilization and when we get them under, holding them there until they are thoroughly soaked.”

The government often collaborated with the military to enforce attendance at Native boarding schools. Communities like White Earth commonly had warning systems. Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe,* describes how the first person to notice government or religious presence on a reservation would blow a whistle, and families would rush their children into the woods or to designated hiding spots like ditches.

Two pillars of that assimilation: government funding of boarding schools

Some families literally had their children torn from their arms. Others were

Photo of Ojibwe and Benedictines at White Earth, circa 1880

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threatened with loss of land or resources. Others were left so impoverished by loss of land and lack of opportunity that they felt they had no choice but to send away one or more of their children in hopes that a boarding school would mean enough food to survive. Some were convinced to let their children attend boarding schools nearby so their children could at least come home on the weekends, because the alternative was sending them to a school across the country and they might never see them again. The bottom line: it was all under duress. With attendance physically enforced, that left operations to contend with. For this, one of the government’s most reliable resources was an institution that already had a system for schooling: the church. Other denominations were involved, none more so than the Catholic Church, which played a central role in accepting government funds, establishing these schools and recruiting teachers. For the four schools mentioned earlier, the Order of Saint Benedict at Saint John’s Abbey was involved in governance, ownership and logistics, but the day-to-day operations – and the teachers – came from our founding sisters, the sisters of Saint Benedict’s Monastery.

Uncovering history

“We need to do this work.”

several sisters who had taken part in the schools.

In 2020, those words came from the archivists at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. They were referring to confronting the painful connections with Native American boarding schools, and working toward what’s next.

The consensus among the teachers of those schools was a phrase you just read: We need to do this work.

Belen Benway ’21, a member of the Prairie Island Indian Community and a research assistant with Ted Gordon (visiting assistant professor of sociology at CSB/SJU) under the Mellon Foundation Becoming Community grant, approached the archivists in 2019 and asked if she could dig around to learn more about the boarding school history. The sisters welcomed her – and the effort – with open arms. “Here’s everything we have,” Gordon recalls them saying. “They said, we want to share. We want to learn.” This wasn’t an entirely forgotten subject among the sisters. S. Carol Berg ’66, Professor Emerita of History at CSB/SJU, wrote her doctoral thesis on White Earth four decades ago. She had learned years earlier about the national history of boarding schools and felt the importance of digging into our specific history and interviewing

When confronting matters of violence and trauma, it’s important to not excuse or rationalize any of it – especially not from the perspective of the oppressors. S. Carol and several of her contemporaries who share her interest in social justice are quick to assert that there’s no excuse. And yet, what she learned in her interviews helps anchor what is, to many of us, incomprehensible complicity. “It was ignorance, more than malice,” says S. Carol. “These women only knew one culture – many of them were German immigrants and they all lived in a bubble – and they asserted that culture unquestioningly. They only knew one way of teaching, characterized by Eurocentric, Catholic standardized testing and curriculum, and they applied it without regard to context or harm.” It’s one thing to run a school with structure, standards and discipline. The sisters certainly did that. It’s another thing when that structure is designed to vanquish a culture.

Belen Benway ’21 has spent hours carefully sifting through the archives at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. Learn more on page 18.

Summer 2021 | 15

Large-scale failure The school at White Earth was built to board 110 students at a time. It was in operation from 1878 until it was converted to a day school in 1945, and closed as an educational facility entirely in 1969. The school at Red Lake was built to board 77 students at a time and is still in operation as a Catholic day school affiliated with the Diocese of Crookston. The schools operated on campus were deemed “industrial schools” and were aimed at training in “practical” (by Euro-American, Christian standards) skills. Saint Benedict’s Industrial School operated under government contract from 1884 through 1896, and eventually grew to accommodate as many as 150 students at a timeii. When it comes to Native boarding schools in general, recordkeeping is minimal. The records that have emerged around the nation paint a shocking picture. The Meriam Report, commissioned by the Institute for Government Research, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and released in 1928, revealed “grossly inadequate” provisions. Crowded facilities with inadequate hygiene amenities. Diets “deficient in quantity, quality, and variety.” Children forced to spend hours each day in heavy industrial work despite malnourishment. Discipline that is “restrictive rather than developmental.” Concerted efforts to eliminate and vilify expressions of culture. And “disquieting illustrations of failure to understand the underlying principles of human behavior.”

“You cannot understand the challenges facing Native communities today without understanding this 100-year period of the boarding school era.” – Ted Gordon visiting assistant professor of sociology at CSB/SJU

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Uncovering history

Indelible impact The Meriam Report received sufficient attention to put pressure on the schools, and after that, many schools began shifting to day programs and the boarding school structure waned. But the damage was done. It’s important to note that the attitudes and approaches at the schools shifted over the years, especially after the conversion to day programs. Also, the attitudes and approaches varied by teacher, some of whom had a stronger grasp of and respect for Indigenous cultures than others. According to S. Carol’s research, the Benedictines intended to teach the Ojibwe, but found themselves learning much in the process. Still, that shared learning experience certainly didn’t mollify the overall impact of what happened. The impact of the boarding schools was not limited to the children who attended, nor to the families left at home. It was devastating

on multiple levels: emotional, physical, practical, cultural, economic, spiritual, political. This impact rippled through the country, and it has left an indelible mark. “You cannot understand the challenges facing Native communities today without understanding this 100-year period of the boarding school era,” says Gordon. Inherited trauma is part of it, but it’s so much more than that. The systematic and persistent eradication of a culture – through the education of children – isn’t something that will ebb out like a tide. It’s more like a 100-year flood that left utter devastation even after the water leaves. It’s definitely not something that can be tidily cleaned up with an apology. But work is underway – from multiple groups and individuals – to unpack, to explore, to listen, to learn, to collaborate, to cooperate and to create a future that allows for healing.

Watch the PBS NewsHour story On Wednesday, June 23, PBS NewsHour aired the story of this collaborative effort by White Earth Nation, the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict and the College of Saint Benedict. You can check it out using this QR code. Simply point your smartphone camera at the icon.

* Both Ojibwe and Chippewa are names given by Europeans to the Indigenous group that originally called itself Anishinaabe.

Source: Southern Poverty Law Center.


Source: College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Archives. context=archives_history_lessons


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The work of repatriation BY | BELEN LUCRETIA BENWAY ’21

Searching for answers BY | GREG SKOOG (SJU ’89)

Exploring hard topics, employing undergrad student research, engaging in difficult conversations and recommending solutions. ... These are the tools of liberal arts inquiry that will help acknowledge our past and shape our future. And right now, Bennie students are leading that push in so many different ways. These next pages highlight just a few of those areas.

Defining decolonization Colonization – of the type that took place in North America – involved the removal of Indigenous people from the land. Beyond that, it involved the attempted elimination of those cultures by multiple means, including the forced assimilation process found at Native boarding schools. Colonization has resulted in the removal of

Indigenous peoples from most forms of representation – in our history, in our curriculum, in our media – so that we’re left primarily with crude stereotypes. Decolonization is the unwinding of that process and regaining native presence, culture and representation. The practical elements of that can vary depending on whom you ask.

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“Native Americans have been healing from the injustices of colonization for decades, and I think all the steps forward we take as a University and College to pay respect to the resilience of this group of people is important. Sharing these photos is a symbol of our school extending respect and tribute.” This is a line from the chapter I wrote in the book Inclusion in Higher Education: Research Initiatives on Campus. This line perfectly encapsulates the mission I had from the start of my research working in the Saint Benedict’s Monastery archives. I started working in the archives sophomore year with the goal to uncover as much information and as many photos as I could detailing the forgotten history of the industrial schools that were operated at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s. It was truly astonishing to me to find out that at one point in our history, there were more Indigenous students on these grounds than white. I felt like if I could learn more about the past I could possibly shed light on that same community in the present. It soon became a much bigger project than I ever expected, with our community’s reach of industrial schools stretching to the White Earth Nation and Red Lake Nation as well. I found a wide range of photographs from each school. The first phase of my work was to physically spend lots of time in the archives looking through photos and trying to analyze them in the hope of placing faces with names. The sisters were pivotal partners in my work and without their help and support I wouldn’t have been able to uncover nearly as much information. Not only were they so sweet and always had an extra cup of coffee to offer me, but they also really held a plethora of knowledge. Every time I would come into the archives they would have a few more files they thought would help me. The archives are huge and there is so much information down there, it can be really easy to get lost in all the materials. Some of the photographs hadn’t been seen in the 100+ years since they were taken! It feels like you are touching history. And from that moment on I felt like I had to get these photos out and shared. I wanted everyone to know about this history and about all the students who were

Creating a community here before them. We cannot ignore the dark past of industrial schools in the United States and their goal to assimilate Native American youth through education. While I do think these particular schools were better than many others during this time, it’s all relative because it was still so tragic. Native American children were still taken from their families with little or no choice. I think it’s important to address that in order to be able to heal ancestral and historical trauma and create a more inclusive community on campus now. If working in the archives taught me one thing, it really highlighted to me how proud I am to be a part of such a resilient group of people. Native Americans have fought for survival for so long, and now is the time for us to honor our ancestors and pay tribute to them. The more photographs I compiled, the more excited I was to share them with others. It was important that we did it in the right way, though, and on the terms of their Indigenous descendants. We reached out to the respective tribes and they played a big role in the steps after uncovering the photos. We cannot respect the people and culture if we don’t go to them and ask what they want. We cannot just assume we know. Another part of my work in the archives was looking through documents like school course catalogs and registers of students’ names. These types of documents were helpful to try to get an idea of family names and who was possibly in the photos. I tried my best to get a few names of students matched with the photos to make the process of sharing with specific family members possible. From the start of this work, it felt like something I was called to do. I am Dakota Mdewakanton Sioux from Prairie Island Indian Community in southeast Minnesota. I grew up very close to our reservation and was submerged in the culture. I loved learning more about my heritage and have always been keen on history, so this work felt natural to me. I am proud to be Indigenous, proud to be a Bennie and overjoyed that I get the opportunity to share my work and make a difference.

When Marissa Johnson ’22 (who is a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa) arrived on campus, “there was really no one like me here that I knew of right away. And that feeling can be pretty lonely.” She met Ted Gordon, visiting assistant professor of sociology, when she sat in on a community event (targeted primarily at faculty) on “decolonizing our syllabus.” Gordon connected her with some other Native students on campus and told her there had been interest in students forming a club, but there hadn’t yet been anyone to step up and drive that process. “And I told him, ‘Well, I can do it. Let’s get it started. Let’s get it rolling.’ ” So Marissa spent her first year meeting students and planning to start a club. “We would meet every so often and we were developing a constitution, forming goals, contacting faculty and staff. … And that eventually got off the ground.” The result has been the Indigenous Students Association (ISA), which launched in spring 2021 with Marissa as president. Membership is open to Indigenous and nonIndigenous students alike, with members representing a variety of Native Nations. The heart of the club’s mission is to “provide a space for students who identify as Native American and Indigenous to celebrate their culture.” But so far, Marissa and the club feel compelled to push hard for formal acknowledgement of our institutions’ role in history and for practical steps toward decolonization. It’s a lot. And Marissa and her fellow ISA board members admit that while pushing for decolonization and inclusiveness is crucial, it’s exhausting and has taken a noticeable toll on each of their academic and personal lives. But, “that’s kind of the big thing that we’re tackling right now,” she says. “Getting the support of the student senates and the administration and putting these positions in place so that students in ISA don’t have to do it. Then we can go to school and go to class and go to club after classes are done and have fun. … Then we can be about community building and planning bingo and trivia like other clubs can do.”

Summer 2021 | 19

The potential to lead This spring, Faith Gronda ’22 of New Brighton, Minnesota (and a member of the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation), was awarded a Newman Civic Fellowship through Campus Compact in pursuit of her goal to “decolonize our campus while transforming it into an institution at which Native and Indigenous students could thrive.” “The Newman Civic Fellowship,” according to Andrew Seligsohn, Ph.D., president of Campus Compact, “is a one-year learning, networking, skill-building experience for students who have already been identified as deeply committed to the betterment of their community. They come to us having been nominated by their presidents or chancellors. And we see it as an opportunity for these students ... to build a network of the most engaged student civic leaders, who can become resources to each other.” Faith says “The fellowship provides really strong connections to other students at other institutions that are doing extremely important work. And it creates a network of people who are aspiring to change their institutions … not even just change the institution, but make a change in the world.” Her hope is to tap into that network and help CSB/SJU begin leading a way forward. “I want to try and connect with students from other institutions that may have the same institutional history that we do and have conversations to see if this is something that they are talking about – if this is something they are working on. And, if not, I’d like to inspire change and try to create at least that conversation on other campuses. This part of Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s history is traumatic and horrible, and we’ve neglected it for far too long. … But at the same time, if our institutions truly prioritize this work and our community collectively dedicates its time and resources, we can change the narrative and become an example of an institution that actually reconciles with our history in a positive way.” “Faith has thoughtfully worked to promote awareness of Indigenous peoples on our campus, and to address root causes of inequity keeping Indigenous peoples from meaningful inclusion,” said CSB Interim President Laurie Hamen. “I look forward to continuing our work with Faith and with the ISA.” “By creating this change together,” Faith concludes, “I hope one day my college will serve as an example of an institution known for actively and honestly engaging with its past while uplifting Native and Indigenous agency, history, culture and perspectives.”

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ETL adapts to tell the story Extending the Link (ETL) is the student-run documentary film crew at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. In a typical year, the ETL team begins brainstorming topics in the spring, researches over the summer, travels to capture their story in the fall, then edits and produces their film over the winter. “This year was obviously far from anything that resembled the ‘typical’,” admits Charly Frisk ’21, ETL’s co-director for the past two years. Travel restrictions made remote shooting impossible. Gathering restrictions meant team meetings were held over Zoom at 9 in the evening … after everyone completed their three-hour block-scheduled class. It wasn’t ideal. “Team morale was low,” Charly admits. In September though, Grace Savard ’22 floated an idea. What if they switched formats and made a podcast? “Documentary storytelling, as it turns out, is more than film,” says Charly. “ETL just needed to be creative in how to share the stories.” Settling on a topic involves hours of brainstorming and conversation. In this case, inspiration came from a Teaching Native American History and Culture course. “It came to light there, in a conversation with Vance Blackfox, director of communication at the National Boarding Schools Healing Coalition, that under 10% of the U.S. population is aware that these schools were in operation,” says Charly. “Prior to this year, students’ and alums’ awareness of the boarding schools here likely mirrored – or might have even trailed – those national statistics.” As ETL saw it, this was an undertold story. “Our most critical intention with the podcast,” says Charly, “is to provide an engaging and creative platform from which people in our community may understand this issue of boarding schools, situated within the broader national context, so that students and alums of CSB/SJU can understand the lasting impacts of the histories of our institutions. “In ETL, to hear another person’s story is to listen with the ear of your heart. Which is to say, you devote the most genuine amount of listening attention to the storyteller and bring the lessons forward – to continue the capacity of the story to impact others and influence change. To listen and to do – that is our purpose.” You can check out their work using the QR code to the right. Simply point your smartphone camera at the code and follow the link.

You can check out their work using the QR code to the right. Simply point your smartphone camera at the code and follow the link.

Searching for answers

Building a framework for action The Entrepreneur Scholars program at the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship provides CSB and SJU students from all disciplines the opportunity to design and implement a world-class business venture. Selected students – E-Scholars – pursue their interest in entrepreneurship through a series of three courses over two years. E-Scholars get access to mentors. They travel to learn from successful entrepreneurs. And ultimately, they have the chance to plan, create and launch a new venture. For Maija Eickhoff ’21, an environmental studies major from St. Cloud, that new venture is a registered nonprofit called Azhen (meaning “to return” in Ojibwe). “In the first semester (of the Entrepreneur Scholars program) we worked to identify problems and gaps in whatever market we’re interested in getting into,” says Maija. “At the same time, I was taking a class where we were discussing the boarding school history here on campus. It seemed like there was a nice bridge there between this big problem of Native people disproportionately being impacted by the long-term effects of colonialism and, on the flip side, my opportunity to, literally, make any business I’d want.” Azhen will be a student-guided venture focused on creating and generating resources – through fundraising and volunteer efforts

– to return to White Earth Nation. What that looks like for the newly registered nonprofit is taking shape over the summer as an initial group of 10-15 students make plans for a fall launch. And when her project is launched, Maija (as an alumna) will let students take it from there. “I’ll sit on the board, and other community members could have involvement that way and can still be volunteers, but it will be guided by current students.” Maija sees a distinction between the roles of Azhen and the newly formed Indigenous Students Association. “The key separation,” she explains, “is that ISA should be a place for community within and around Native students. Azhen will be dedicated to doing more of the legwork of decolonization. Because it’s not Native students’ job to do all that.” ISA President Marissa Johnson ’22 agrees. She sees Azhen as a platform for Bennies and Johnnies – Native and nonNative – with a passion for social justice to come together in collective effort. According to the Entrepreneur Scholars program mission statement, “Consistent with the mission of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, our entrepreneurial studies program especially encourages student projects which seek to promote the common good and make meaningful contributions to the global community.”

“I hope one day my college will serve as an example of an institution known for actively and honestly engaging with its past while uplifting Native and Indigenous agency, history, culture and perspectives.” – Faith Gronda ’22

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What Happens Next? BY | GREG SKOOG (SJU ’89) AND ELLEN HUNTER GANS ’05

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If the first step forward is learning about and acknowledging this history, then what’s the next step? An apology is a start. Last month, Prioress Susan Rudolph and the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict delivered a formal apology to the White Earth Nation. And the trilateral work being done between the monastery, the people of White Earth and the studentresearchers of the college is continuing. As stated earlier, this chapter in history belongs to the monastery and the tribes. But there are still steps that the college community can take. In their book chapter titled “Pathways for Native Student Inclusion” (included in the book Inclusion in Higher Education: Research Initiatives on Campus, edited by Amanda Macht Jantzer, CSB/SJU assistant professor of psychology, and Kyhl Lyndgaard, director of the CSB/SJU Writing Center), Visiting Assistant Professor Ted Gordon, Belen Benway ’21 and Claire Winter ’20 identify “three pathways” that an institution like CSB can take toward addressing past injustices:

1 C ollaborating with affected Native communities 2 E mpowering Native and Indigenous students 3 F orging partnerships that serve Native communities on their own terms

Collaborating with affected Native communities Photo of Chief Manitowabi of the Minnesota Chippewa, circa 1875

With the enthusiastic blessing and support of both the prioress at Saint Benedict’s Monastery and the abbot at Saint John’s Abbey, the undergraduate research inquiry started by Belen has morphed into a full-blown collaborative campaign with additional research assistants and grant funding and advisory boards and partnerships. Jaime Arsenault, the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Repatriation Representative and Archives Manager for the White Earth Band, is lending her time and energy to collaborating efforts with the White Earth community. Gordon is leading the college-based research efforts and working on securing additional grants to create more space for healing. S. Pat Kennedy, monastery heritage coordinator, is serving as the point person for the monastery. S. Carol Berg ’66 is leveraging her decades of research and a commitment to social justice. And this is just a partial list.

Summer 2021 | 23

Already underway: the monumental task of digitizing and analyzing records from Saint Benedict’s Monastery, of which there are a lot – much more so than for many other Native schools. The research team set out in hopes of finding a few photographs and came up with more than 130, spanning the entire history of the schools. Some included names of people, so the team was able to digitize those photographs and give them to Arsenault in hopes of making them available for family members. A grant from the Council of Independent Colleges – as part of their Humanities Research for the Public Good program – will fund two student researchers over the next academic year to do this work, prepare presentations, and then deliver those presentations both at White Earth and at the Stearns Historical Museum. The unpacking is delicate, not only because of the artifacts and historical documents involved, but also because of the raw trauma, nuanced feelings and ethical concerns around it. Case in point: medical and school records might be viewed as useful information for family records or the sake of documentation, but unearthing them could also be a serious violation of privacy. And digitized documents are only part of the equation. As Arsenault explains, “For some people in the community, progress

means being able to see a picture of their grandmother. Or maybe it means having a dialogue with individuals from the school or hearing an apology. For others it’s about having the opportunity to say what’s on their minds.” That’s why this collaborative campaign puts such an emphasis on creating space – for talking, for listening, for finally being able to ask questions, for answers, for peace, for closure, for healing or for whatever is needed. An advisory board is being formed within the White Earth community to help guide the process, provide feedback and facilitate connections. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s family by family. Individual by individual. “This is very careful work so no one feels like anything is being pushed on them,” says Arsenault. “By design, it’s not a straightforward project. It has to be fluid, intentionally. We’re holding space. If and when they’re ready, they’re always welcome.” To make sure that space is truly welcoming, there’s a lot of work going on within the monastery and at the college – and it’s not just standing around a scanner in the archives. Arsenault says “Ted [Gordon] and the sisters have been doing the internal work, not only looking at what records they have there but making sense of it and sitting with it.”

Describing the working relationship as “slow, deliberate and really positive,” Arsenault says “we’re getting to a point where we can have these hard conversations, where we can build these relationships and have ongoing collaborations and take both communities to really great places.” A significant grant from the McKnight Foundation will help strengthen those connections by funding a collaborative oral history project over the next academic year. Student researchers from CSB/SJU will be hired to conduct and record interviews with five sisters from Saint Benedict’s Monastery who worked at the OSB mission at White Earth. At the same time, tribal researchers at White Earth will record interviews with former students and descendants of former students of the school at White Earth. The two groups of researchers will meet regularly in the process of this digital storytelling project. “This is a really groundbreaking project,” says Gordon. “I don’t know of any other collaborations between a monastic institution, a college and a tribal community – on anything, let alone something as sensitive as this history.”

Empowering Native and Indigenous students For Native students at CSB and SJU, “empowerment” meant starting with the basics. Until recently, most Native Bennies and Johnnies assumed they were the only Native Bennie or Johnnie. So the first step was making connections. Then came collaboration and organization in the form of the new Indigenous Students Association (see sidebar article on page 19). Right now those students are finding and raising their collective voice. This spring the ISA lobbied the CSB/SJU Faculty Senate for approval of a land acknowledgment that will be introduced starting this fall in classes that meet the curriculum’s “cultural and social difference” requirement. A student or faculty member will read the statement – which includes reference to our boarding school history – and then allow time for discussion.

Photo of students in front of St. Benedict’s Industrial School for Chippewa Girls, St. Joseph, Minnesota, 1886.

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The final, ongoing step will be creating community. When Native students feel welcome and valued in our community and have a space to embrace this part

What Happens Next?

of their identities – then they’ll be empowered to bring those diverse perspectives to our greater community … and make our community greater.

Forging partnerships that serve Native communities on their own terms “I don’t like to focus on the worst thing that ever happened to a community and that’s where the story ends,” says Arsenault. “What if people have the opportunity to write another chapter, where there’s self-determination? This is that opportunity.” So Gordon and Indigenous advocates at CSB and SJU are working to listen and find mutually beneficial ways to act. One of those areas right now involves wild rice. “Wild rice is incredibly sacred to the Ojibwe,” Gordon says. “It’s also a critical part of both their diet and their economy. The problem is that it’s threatened by all kinds of development.” The tribe’s goal is to get wild rice sites listed and protected on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a slow, detail-oriented, time-consuming process. “Jaime (Arsenault) would love to do this,” says Gordon, “and she could use some help. This is a fantastic project for undergrad student research.”

Adrianna Warden ’22

This summer, Adrianna Warden ’22, a nutrition major from Nowthen, Minnesota, will take this on. Part of her work will be historical research, reviewing written histories of

different sites, and part will involve interviews with people that practice wild rice harvesting today. It’s work that holds special significance for Adrianna, as a first-generation White Earth descendant. “I’m looking forward to a summer of growth both through research and relationship building within a community to which I hope to gain closer connections,” she says. At the same time, there’s a connection growing to help students from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. (Children from Mille Lacs attended the boarding schools in our community as well.) In summer 2018, Gordon and education officials at Mille Lacs talked about the intergenerational impact this history continues to have on how that community perceives education. “Their point was that if we can get a bus load of middle and high school students here on campus, we can help get those students to see themselves as having the potential to go to college and succeed in college.” A consistent area of interest for Mille Lacs students is environmental education. “And so it was a natural fit to connect them with Sarah Gainey (assistant director and education coordinator for pre-K/12 education) at Saint John’s Outdoor University and Abbey Arboretum. We have that whole infrastructure in place. They come here, they do outdoor activities, we connect them to talk with some of our Indigenous students and they experience a college campus.” The ongoing partnership was forced to go remote and virtual this past year, but all involved are looking forward to getting back face-to-face.

Leading toward the light “This is a really groundbreaking project,” says Ted Gordon, CSB/SJU visiting assistant professor of sociology. “I don’t know of any other collaborations between a monastic institution, a college and a tribal community – on anything, let alone something as sensitive as this history.” The McKnight Foundation, as part of their Vibrant & Equitable Communities program, has awarded a $50,000 grant to a collaborative oral history program between White Earth Nation, the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict and the College of Saint Benedict. Currently, there are no other institutions confronting this chapter of history in quite this way. Through the work of Gordon and his students over the last two years, CSB is helping to establish the standard for ethical guidelines on how to use, share, preserve and repatriate the documents and artifacts that document this past.

WHAT CAN YOU DO NEXT? Learn about the land you’re on. A great place to start is at to learn about treaties, languages and tribal areas. Browse background and resources from the CSB/SJU libraries

Watch a virtual discussion of decolonization here at CSB/SJU

Read • The Thunder Before the Storm: The Autobiography of Clyde Bellecourt (Clyde Bellecourt, Minnesota Historical Society Press) • Full of Fair Hope: A History of St. Mary’s Mission (S. Owen Lindblad, OSB, Park Press Quality Printing) • Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940 (Brenda J. Child, University of Nebraska Press) onsider a donation to the Ratelle C endowed scholarship fund for Native students at Saint Ben’s or to the Saint Ben’s Initiative for Native Nation Revitalization (to support work like what Ted Gordon and team are doing). You can give at – remember to type “Ratelle” or “Native Nation Revitalization” in the Comments box.

Summer 2021 | 25


MEGAN JUNIUS ’99 A WOMEN’S BUSINESS ENTERPRISE In 2019, the Peter Hill Design firm rebranded and changed its name to Eight Moon™. For owner Megan Junius ’99, it was a turning point moment, moving on from the name of her mentor. “After working for Peter for 10 years and buying the business when he passed (in 2011), it just didn’t seem appropriate to change the name at the time.” Today, the agency has increased in size, expanded in scope beyond design and broadened its client base. One new tool to help continue that growth is the certification Eight Moon recently received from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) as an official Women’s Business Enterprise. According to the WBENC website, this “is the most widely recognized and respected certification for womenowned businesses in the U.S.” The process includes in-depth review to validate that a business is at least

26 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine

51% owned, controlled and managed by a woman or women. “Diversity in the workplace and supplier chains is becoming a real talking point,” says Megan. “Consumer products are starting to have the women-owned logo on them and I think it will only become more visual and valuable as our society is undergoing such culture shifts right now.” For some, entrepreneurship might seem like a stretch for a fine art major. (And Megan admits she probably could have used an accounting class!) But she’s clear that “Saint Ben’s prepared me for problem-solving and that’s what I do. Clients come to us to solve problems through design and marketing. As a business owner, solving problems is a constant thing and it’s very much a juggling act – leaking windows, rent due, email not working, sick employees. …”

Megan took part in the U.S. Small Business Association’s Emerging Leaders program (a mini-MBA type program). And she’s made great entrepreneur connections through the CSB/SJU Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship (she was named the 2017 CSB Entrepreneur of the Year), though “there were always a disproportionate number of men to women attending, which tells me women weren’t going out and running companies as much as men. I assume this will continue to change over time, and you can already see it in other professions like law.”

Major at CSB

In the meantime, Megan and Eight Moon will continue to thrive in their new offices in Vandalia Towers in St. Paul’s designated Creative Enterprise Zone. “There’s a crescent moon on the water tower here,” she laughs. “How could I not have our new offices under the moon?!”

Preparing for my senior art show at SJU with the other eight art majors. We became a tight group even though we had very different artistic styles.

Fine art

First-year residence hall Corona

Favorite class: Sculpture, with Bob Wilde. This class was so carefree and we were able to really do what we wanted. We had great fun pouring lost wax sculptures out at his studio in Dassel. And after I graduated, I even helped him hang one of his art shows in the cities.

Favorite Bennie memory



2011 Rachel Peterson is now a principal and

co-owner of Hess, Roise and Company, a historical consulting firm in Minneapolis.

Constance Fourré released a new book 1972

titled The Spiritual Resilience Handbook: A Faith-Based, Research-Informed, Practical Approach. The book represents one method to help reduce emotional distress while deepening connections with the foundations of Benedictine spirituality.

1986 Randi Fasnacht was named Teacher of the Year at Buddy Taylor Middle School in Palm Coast, Florida, Jan. ’21. Patricia “Trish” Harvey Miles joined the University of Dayton rowing staff as assistant coach, Feb. ’21.

1990 Terri Anderson wrote and published the

book Make the Ordinary Extraordinary: A Year of Daily Devotions, March ’21. Terri works as superintendent/principal at a school on the White Earth Indian Reservation.

1993 Michelle Holschuh Simmons received

tenure in Educational Studies from Monmouth College in spring 2020. She has been an elected member of the Faculty Senate for the past four years. Prior to coming to Monmouth, Michelle was recognized multiple times for teaching excellence while at San Jose State University.

1997 Amy Fredregill became the senior director of sustainability at WSB Engineering, March ’21.

2013 Kelsey Swenson Noah is attending in

the Doctor of Nursing Practice program for family nurse practitioner at Augsburg University; graduation expected 2023.

2014 Alaina Cranston Kolpin was

appointed to the Worthington (Minnesota) City Council, April ’21.

Amanda Luby received her Ph.D. in statistics and data science from Carnegie Mellon University in August 2019. During her doctoral program, Amanda published two journal articles and also gave invited lectures (concerning her work on statistical forensics) at the Alan Turing Institute in London, U.K., and the Isaac Newton Institute at Cambridge University, U.K. Also in August 2019, Amanda began her job at Swarthmore College as an assistant professor (tenure-track) in the Department of Math and Statistics. In early 2020, Amanda won a five-year grant with the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE).

Kathleen Jensen to Corey Proell, May ’20 Stacee Lenz to Emma Athmann-Driscoll, Aug. ’20

2012 Bethany Hanson to Andrew Mellon, Oct. ’20

Caitlin Hill to Ace Theissen, Oct. ’20

Samantha Meyman to Daniel Schmidt ’12, Sept. ’20


Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary in the Office of the Secretary in the US Department of Treasury, March ’21.

2020 Elise Miller received a National

Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, March ’21. The NSF GFRP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions.

2004 Shannon Verly Wiger and her family

2005 Jenni O’Brien Johnson was promoted

Dec. ’20

2015 Bridget Cummings was appointed as

2000 Jennifer Beech Lohse was named a Notable General Counsel in Twin Cities Business magazine, Feb. ’21. recently completed a historic restoration project at the corner of Minnesota Street and College Avenue in St. Joseph. Shannon has been working in historic renovations for the past decade, June ’21.

2010 Jaselyn Taubel to Joachim Ferk, July ’20 2011 Katherine Hansen to Brandon Nazari,

MARRIAGES Molly Dwyer to Karl DeRocher, June ’20 2005



from accounting manager to controller at Nelson Wood Shims (Grand Rapids, Minnesota), Feb. ’21.

2006 Melissa Schmitz is producing Bramble

Theatre’s show, The Ministry of Mundane Mysteries Chicago. The show is an immersive, improvised experience that takes a mundane mystery and turns it into a witty, week-long caper that happens completely through the phone, March ’21.

Michelle DeCock Van Engen earned her master’s degree in nonprofit management from Hamline University, Dec. ’20. She is a digital content strategist at the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation.

2007 Megan Peterson Christofield was

promoted to director of expanding family planning choices at Jhpiego, a branch of Johns Hopkins University, Feb. ’21.

2008 Gretchen Enninga started a new position as the director of sustainability at United Health Group (Minnesota), Feb. ’21.



For complete news and notes from classmates and to post your notes, go to BenniesConnect: or email us at Summer 2021 | 27




2014 Caitlin Summers to Zachary Weseman, May ’20

Sarah Walch to Cody Meares, May ’20

2015 Sarah Broos to John Williams ’15, Aug. ’20

Kathleen Egan to Robert Pezan ’15, Oct. ’20 Erika Rodby to Daniel Mahoney, Oct. ’20 Kathryn “Kate” Ruzynski to Joseph Rusch ’16, Sept. ’20

Jenna Traut to Jacob Fisher, Dec. ’20

2016 April Bondhus to Ryan Middendorf, June ’21

Paeton Larson to Trevor Moyle, Sept. ’20

Sarah Roehl to Alex Schueller ’15, Oct. ’20 Saide Vahle to Casey Anderson, Sept. ’20

2017 Alyssa Bossuyt to Bryce Jeppesen ’15, July ’20

Alexa Roubik to Nicholas Colburn ’17, Aug. ’20 Jessica Trossen to Michael Rawlings ’17, April ’21

ALISON HALL TO JON BLOMQUIST ’17, NOV. ’20 28 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine


Victoria Vogt to Cody Piper, Sept. ’20

Hannah Zobitz to Maxfield Rotert ’15, Oct. ’20





CASSANDRA GIMLER DARSOW & GREG DARSOW, GIRL, CARLEIGH, FEB. ’21 Kristy Curry Hill & Jeffrey Hill, boy, Xander, Sept. ’19

Amanda Trusty Mahoney & Tim Mahoney, boy, Mason, July ’20

2009 Charlotte McGuire Bjoraker & Derek Bjoraker, boy, Nolan, June ’20

Sarah Wallerich Hornseth & Dan Hornseth, boy, Hudson, March ’21 Andrea Carrrow Morsching & Kirby Morsching, boy, Jack, Oct. ’20


arah Haugen Craig & Jeffery S Craig, boy, Hank, April ’21

Bridget Blatzheim Hauff & Jonathan Hauff ’10, girl, Marie, April ’20



Emma Jaynes Keeler & Loren Keeler, girl, Freya, April ’21 Kayla Weirens Kirchner & Cory Kirchner, girl, Bria, April ’21

Emily Dech to Daniel Dickerson Jr., June ’20 Chelsey Guetter to Thomas “TJ” Fulton ’18, Jan. ’21 Morgan Windsperger to Jacob Kempenich ’18, Aug. ’20

2019 Katarina Sulzle to Casie Carlson, Feb. ’20

BIRTHS / ADOPTIONS 2003 Anne Plaisted Bohnen & Brent Bohnen, boy, Axl, Nov. ’20

2005 Lindsay Fredeen Ebeling & Erik Ebeling, boy, Kaden, July ’20

Heather Isaackson Orth & Michael Orth ’05, boy, Timothy, Jan. ’21

2007 Shannon Schmitz Anderson & Colin Anderson, girl, Alayna, Feb. ’21

Elizabeth Heroux Cox & Tristan Cox, girl, Cora, Jan. ’21 Tara Fasciana Durheim & Benjamin Durheim ’09 (SOT), boy, Kaj, Jan. ’21


’08 Summer 2021 | 29




2012 Elizabeth “Beth” McMillan Roers &

Alexander Roers ’13, boy, Blake, Feb. ’21

Jennifer Yelle Zirbes and Kyle Zirbes ’08, boy, William, Dec. ’18 & boy, Charlie, March ’21

2013 Lindsey Gideon Minto & Connor Minto, girl, Finley, Aug. ’20

Emily VanKeulen Offerdahl & Dan Offerdahl, girl, Estelle, March ’20 Jena Wiehoff Orzechowski & Philip Orzechowski ’11, girl, Cecilia, March ’20 Alison Toering Zetah & Jacob Zetah ’13, girl, Hypatia, March ’21

2014 Kayla Deutz Antony & Aaron Antony ’15,



ICOLE GAGNON BOUSU N & MICHAEL BOUSU, BOY, MILES, MARCH ’20 Amy Eisenschenk Bertram & Curt 2011 Bertram, boy, Eli, Jan. ’21


Jena Stommes Thorpe & Benjamin Thorpe, girl, Maren, March ’21

2012 Kristi Reisdorf Bohlig & Brian

2015 Sarah Bellissimo Scherschel & Zach

Elissa Terhaar Komro & Robbie Komro, boy, Oliver, April ’21

2016 Maria Bredeck Winkels & Brady Winkels,

Carolyn Triggs Moscho & Ryan Moscho ’11, boy, Carson, Jan. ’21

2018 Rose Berg-Arnold Holton & Zachary

Bohlig, girl, Berkley, April ’21

Scherschel, boy, Leo, Feb. ’21 boy, Waylon, April ’21

Holton, girl, Evelyn, Jan. ’21

Elizabeth “Libbie” Roberts Rauhauser & Matt Rauhauser, girl, Blakely, Oct. ’20






Kelsey Mathiasen & Richard May, boy, Charles, April ’21

and 5 0 n gi n i d en



Anna Guertin Hong & David Hong, girl, Elyse, March ’21


girl, Mylen, Dec. ’20

Erin Wissler Gerdes & Harrison Wissler Gerdes ’14, boy, Henry, March ’21

Your one-day make-up Reunion extravaganza is coming

Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Mark your calendar, reach out to friends and make plans now to be here on campus for all the fun.

Register today at Mag ad.indd 1

30 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine

6/15/21 6:00 PM




Gloria Stoll Basile, May ’12



Virginia Kern Emtmann, Feb. ’14

Elizabeth Hunt Labrosse, March ’21

Joan Fandel Lyons, Dec. ’20

Renee Lenzmeier Paul, May ’19

Mary “Jean” Jendro Shoemaker, Dec. ’20

Evelyn Hill Zenner, March ’21

1955 1956

Marilyn Dondelinger Beck, April ’21 S. Dale (Lenore) Wollum, OSB, Jan. ’21

Janet Kammeier Zylla, May ’18


Patricia Kirkey Campbell, July ’10

Arliss Hennen Dooley, Aug. ’16

L arry Lindeberg, spouse of Mary Grun Lindeberg, Feb. ’21

Kathryn Marcotte Nathan, Nov. ’19

1948 Patricia Reiten Cervenka, mother

of Margaret Cervenka Schmitz ’78, March ’21

Margaret Halloran Kelly, May ’20

Dorothy Berg Kelm, mother of Patty Kelm Allmon ’78, March ’21

1949 Helen Pribyl Bailey, May ’19

Rosemary Greeninger Stonick, July ’19


aymond Jacobson, spouse of Elayne R Wagner Jacobson, March ’20

Martha Birchen Junglen, Dec. ’11

Joan Adelman Krakow, mother of Rita Krakow Meyer ’86, April ’21

Shirley Savoie Twohy, June ’15

1951 Mary Eckert Ludowese, mother of Maureen Ludowese ’83 & Jane Ludowese ’87, July ’20

Kathleen Schroeder Norton, mother of Valerie Norton ’75 & Barbara Norton Barile ’78, Jan. ’21


Dora Dionne Diepolder, Jan. ’21

Jean Laubach Liebsch, April ’19

Audrey Griep Zimmer, Nov. ’19


Mary Jane Strack Bertagnolli, Feb. ’21

Patricia McCarty Rodkewich, mother of Jane Rodkewich ’94, Jan. ’21


Laurentia Colhoff, April ’20

Ardeth Kapsner Johnson, mother of Lynn Fischer Andrews ’83, Feb. ’21

Larraine Matusak, March ’21

Daniel Determan, spouse of Sharon 1965 Johnson Determan, Jan. ’21


Rose Meiers Norman, March ’21

S. Lydia Ortiz, OSB, April ’07


Gloria Dietman Goth, Dec. ’20


Sally Hughes, Jan. ’21

Michael Sebastian, spouse of Marlene Ring Sebastian, Jan. ’21

1970 S. Kara (Clareen) Hennes, OSB, Feb. ’21 Mary Eleanor Blashack McNeal, March ’21

Mary Brambilla Tuinenga, Oct. ’20

Eugene Binsfeld, father of Patricia 1972 Binsfeld Carlson, Jan. ’21

Sophia Yung Pan, Feb. ’19


onald Kainz, spouse of D Rita Bieganek Kainz, Jan. ’21


Patricia Rarick Seabright, Jan. ’21

L awrence Sisterman, spouse of Laura Braegelman Sisterman, Jan. ’21

Dolores Faber, mother of Bonita Faber & 1975


ennis John, spouse of Louella D Reiter John & father of Kelly John Haugen ’88, Feb. ’21

argaret Stringer, mother of M Mary Stringer Hughes & Ann Stringer Roth ’79, Feb. ’21

Juan Creo, spouse of Anne 1962

arilyn Johnson, mother of Patricia M Johnson Schatz, March ’21

Terrahe Creo, Jan. ’21

S. Barbara Kort, OSB, March ’21

talk LET’S


oris Brand, mother of Renee D Brand Fauset, March ’21

L ois Schanhaar, mother of Mary Kay Schanhaar Welle, Jan. ’21 Julene Faber-Andrusick ’86, March ’21

Let’s start the conversation now, so your voice can carry on through generations. A legacy gift of any size pays exponential returns. It’s an investment in ambitious, promising women – women who will honor your legacy with transformative, world-changing impact. Make a bequest through your will or trust, name CSB as a beneficiary, or establish a charitable gift annuity.

The choice is yours. Your legacy is in good hands.


Contact Gigi Fourré Schumacher ’74 at or 320-363-5480 and learn more.

Summer 2021 | 31


1975 Norma Streit, mother of Audrae Streit Weber, April ’21

1976 Mary Wheeler Harrod, Aug. ’11 Floribert Spanier ’55, father of Ruth Spanier Stumpf & Maria Spanier ’87, April ’21


Barbara McGuire Laing, Jan. ’21

Victor Mikulich, father of Jean Mikulich Peters & Mary Mikulich Edholm ’81, March ’21 Bruce Beckmann, spouse of Mary 1978 Sauvageau Beckmann, July ’20

F rances Swenson, mother of Michelle Swenson Drury, March ’21

Roger Schmidt, father of Julia Schmidt1979 Piper, Paula Schmidt Weber ’80 & Angela Schmidt Cabrera ’83, Jan. ’21


Lynn Mara Coupland, Jan. ’21

Irene Hauser, mother of Laurie Hauser Tauer & Maryls Hauser Schmitt ’85, Feb. ’20 Rita Toenies, mother of Joan 1981 Toenies Elton, Jan. ’21

Judy Fischer, Feb. ’87

ary Ziegler, mother of Lori M Ziegler Humbert & Mary Ziegler Hagen ’86, Aug. ’20

E dwina Dehler, mother of Renee Dehler Loso, Feb. ’21

Stanley Guettler, father of Brenda Guettler 1981 Ness, Beth Guettler Lafeber ’84 & Rebecca Guettler ’85, March ’21

Marie Schmid, mother of Jennifer Schmid Pearson, March ’21 Jane Vessel, mother of Mary Vessel Schoen, Elizabeth Vessel ’85 & Susanna Vessel Franklin ’87, Feb. ’21

L oren Roiger, father of Neysa Roiger Schettler, April ’20

Mary Ruth Cameron, mother of Nancy 1989 Cameron Kundinger, Nov. ’20

Shirley Lowe, mother of Lori 1982

harles Preble, father of Margaret C “Meg” Preble Lahammer, Jan. ’21

T homas Quam, father of Julie Quam Leach, Feb. ’21

Robert Moore, father of Mollie 1984

Clifford Gardner ’60, father of Kathleen Gardner Martin, Jan. ’21

Lowe Hume & Kathleen Lowe Zappa ’85, Dec. ’20 Moore Hildebrandt, Jan. ’21

Ernest Jarvis, father of 1985

larence Laliberte, father of Amy C Laliberte McKay, March ’21

arole Zahariades, mother of Susan C Zahariades Schubloom, Jan. ’21

William Just, Jr., father of Ann Just Rivard, Aug. ’20

1990 James Bettendorf ’67, father of

Donna Joranger Himmel, Jan. ’21 Anne Jarvis, Jan. ’21

1986 Clarence Hynes, father of Patricia Hynes Bruer, Jan. ’21

oger Toogood, father of Ann R Toogood Garrett, March ’21


L inus Kalthoff, father of Susan Kalthoff Sovada, Carol Kalthoff Longsdorf ’89, Lisa Kalthoff Anderson ’90 & Sara Kalthoff ’07, Jan. ’21

John Serio, Sr., father of Gina 1988

Serio Brandt Buccelli, March ’21

REALLY? 32 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine

ernard Pogatshnik, father of B Susan Pogatshnik Kolb, April ’21


CSB and SJU on social media are great, but the CSB Alumnae Association has a whole stream of alum-specific content to keep you up-to-date and connected. Like and follow us everywhere!


Sarah Bettendorf Larson & Suzanne Bettendorf Weyer ’91, Feb. ’21

Sheila Kozar, mother of Shannon 1991 Kozar Ingstad, March ’21

lara Slayhi, mother of Ida C Slayhi Tessmer, Jan. ’21

Lester Hemmesch, spouse of Patricia 1992 Schwagel Hemmesch, March ’21

John Sager, father of Jody Sager Meinz, March ’21

L ois Fischer, mother of Lucy Fischer Warren & Emily Fischer Roering ’95, Dec. ’20


T homas Marso, father of Michelle Marso, Dec. ’20

ichard Ennis, father of Amy R Ennis Witter, March ’21


obert Beales, father of Sheila R Beales Harnack, March ’21

Rolf Middleton, father of Katherine Middleton Politis, Feb. ’21


J oanne Bell, mother of Cheryl Sieverding Anderson, Feb. ’21

V iolet Graves, mother of Tracy McDonough Gray, Feb. ’21

James Sweetman ’66, father of Julie Sweetman Hollowell, Jan. ’21 Arlene Vogel, mother of Julie 1996 Vogel Gadient, Jan. ’21

L arry Sagedahl, father of Shannon Sagedahl O’Reilly, July ’20


oger Buerman, father of R Amanda Buerman, March ’21

J ames Thul, father of Mande Thul, March ’21


ary Lou Arnold, mother of M Jessica Arnold Fricke, April ’21


ary O’Keefe Daly, mother M of Ruth Daly Slack, Nov. ’20


ichard Swanson, father of Kristel R Swanson Lastine, March ’21



atthew Siebke, spouse of M Tricia Butler Siebke, Feb. ’21


L inda Hirte, mother of Christine Hirte Boisen, Jan. ’21

oger Williams, father of Andrea R Scibbe Hofland, Jan. ’21

A nn Hennen, mother of Sarah Hennen Sorensen, Jan. ’21


ebbie Dirtzu, mother of D Brittany Dirtzu, April ’21


J udith Aubrecht, mother of Katherine Aubrecht, Jan. ’21

Connie Lawler, mother of Amber 2007 Zoller Elfering, April ’21

urtis Blaesing, father of Jamie C Blaesing Houtsma, Jan ’21

Onnie Tapio, father of Anna 2008 Tapio Brandel, Jan. ’21


obert Beskar, father of R Jennifer Beskar, Feb. ’21


S teven Mund, step-parent of Meghan Carda, March ’21

L inda Ley, mother of Allison Ley, Jan. ’21


S usan Ramler, mother of Nicole Ramler Carbert, March ’21

T homas Farmer, father of Juliet Farmer, Feb. ’21

Throughout this academic year, our Saint Ben’s @ Home webinar series examined what it means to be a college for women – on campus and off. Point your phone at the QR code below and catch up on the whole year's worth of webinars.

Catch up now on the most Bennie-centric collection of webinars anywhere. Just point your phone at the QR code below. Sept. What it Means To Be a College for Women Oct. A Conversation With Interim President Laurie Hamen Nov. The CSB Student Experience Dec. Your Meeting With the Deans Jan. The Economic Impact of the Pandemic on Women Feb. Education Lessons Learned Through COVID Mar. Women, Success and Athletics Apr. Food, Health and Community May Women in Tech at Saint Ben's

Life is better when

BenniesConnect When Bennies connect, old friendships thrive and new friendships blossom. Use BenniesConnect to submit class notes, update your address, check on a friend and plant the seed for more meaningful connections— both personally and professionally. To register, go to and click on the BenniesConnect link.

Summer 2021 | 33


1a Saturday, April 24, was the 2021 Benedictine Day of Service. To celebrate, Bennies and Johnnies everywhere gathered to work together – this year specifically focusing on projects reducing food insecurity in their communities. These are just a few examples! 1. Benedictine Day of Service in Arizona did not disappoint when Bennies & Johnnies joined together to donate a total of 378 pounds of food to St. Mary’s Food Bank, as well as $100 in cash donations. Pictured are:

1a. Heidi Anderson Symons ’04 (and her little Bennies), Claire Adachi ’83 and Becka Gross Clobes ’12

1b. Kathy Kurvers Henderson ’85, Claire Adachi ’83, Austin Louwagie ’12 and Larry Fraher ’89

1c. Suzan-Oda Crokin Knese ’69 and Bill Knese ’70

2. Fourteen Bennies and Johnnies, spanning a range of 40 years in classes, helped deliver 10,549 pounds of Michigan apples to fellow Chicagoans in desperate need of food at the Greater Chicago Food Depository! They also conducted a virtual fundraiser as part of their efforts. They raised enough to deliver 3,247 meals to many in need of food. It was a truly impactful CSB/SJU Benedictine Day of Service. Pictured: Andrew Mueller ’14 and Meggie Battista ’14

34 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine






3. T win Cities area alums collaborated their efforts across many miles in support of Benedictine Day of Service. A total of $1,900 from 19 alums was donated to Second Harvest Heartland as part of the online fundraiser, which will generate roughly 5,700 meals. Additionally, nine alums volunteered to collect food donations at several Twin Cities breweries.


3a. Sisyphus Brewing in Minneapolis: Katie Reisdorf ’16, Mackenzie Diekmann Stice ’13, Sarah Reisdorf ’13 and Meghan Helmbrecht ’13

3b. Excelsior Brewing Company in Excelsior: Rick Speckmann ’72 and Jen Kocourek ’92

3c. Lift Bridge Brewing Company in Stillwater:

I. Cheri Drehos Dixon ’82 and Lori Lowe Hume ’82 II. Liz Lawyer Tomten ’82 and Ann Beuch Cafferty ’76 III. Patty Hamm ’76 and Denise Wyttenbach ’76


3c i

3c ii

3c iii Summer 2021 | 35

Your words have

POWER The Alum Referral Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship (renewable for four years, totaling $4,000) available to deserving prospective Bennies and Johnnies. And all it takes to qualify is your recommendation. Give your support to help them make a CSB/SJU experience affordable while you help us fill our campuses with talented, ambitious students who can make our community stronger. We’re counting on you to help us recruit an amazing group of new students … and, with the Alum Referral Scholarship in play, those students are counting on you, too.

Think about the students in your life, then visit today and get started.


36 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine


You Want Others to Experience Those Things BY | GREG SKOOG (SJU ’89)

“The things that have been a gift in one’s own life – you want others to experience those things,” says Lisa Pettitt ’89. She’s explaining part of the reasoning that led her, along with her mother (Geri Backes Pettitt ’62) and sisters (Shannon Pettitt ’93 and Beth Pettitt ’95) to create the Pettitt Family Scholarship. “We all had really great experiences at Saint Ben’s,” Lisa continues. “And we’ve been able to share that as a family. “My mother’s sister (Mary Lou Backes ’64) graduated from Saint Ben’s as well and was a sister in the monastery for a while. My sisters and I all married Johnnies, and our dad was at St. John’s seminary for a short time. There’s just been a deep connection for us with that place.” But, for Lisa, establishing a scholarship fund was about more than love of alma mater. “I have a strong appreciation – my mom and sisters do as well – for an education that’s designed for women. I know that Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s are working toward Strong Integration, but I still think the idea of having an entire campus that’s a space for women and is dedicated to women. … That’s essential. That’s a critical model to continue to support.” What happens within that model – for students, for alumnae, for our community – is what makes the College of Saint Benedict special and unique. “What more important legacy is there than continuing to offer the blessings we’ve been given and help create a world where that can be sustained?” asks Lisa. “And I see Saint Ben’s – especially in some of the recent work that Ted Gordon and the Indigenous Students Association are

Shannon Pettitt ’93, Geri Backes Pettitt ’62, Beth Pettitt ’95 and Lisa Pettitt ’89 have teamed up to create the Pettitt Family Scholarship.

doing – engaging in a powerful process of listening, truthful living and acting for justice to begin to repair some of our community’s historical harms. I’m excited to be contributing to that in some way. It’s wonderful to think of how much of a role alumnae can play, not only in giving, but in activism and in supporting transformational inclusion at this college.” Her hope is that the first-generation students the Pettitt Family Scholarship supports get the same support and development that she received. “But it doesn’t have to look like mine. Everyone’s path is unique. I hope that Saint Ben’s can continue to offer a wider variety of women a broader path. And I also hope that the college can, in turn, be changed by those women – so that Saint Ben’s continues to evolve in a way that is led by the women it educates and brings into the community.” In a sense, that ability to evolve and be impacted by the women in your life is what bonds the Pettitts close enough to come together in an initiative like

a family scholarship. “My sister Michelle was the second of the four of us, and she had Down syndrome,” says Lisa. “Her presence, and my parents’ response to her needs and our family, really pulled us together. Michelle was a glue for us. She played a key role in being a hub for us and really helped shape the connection among us.”

You can find out more about what’s involved with starting a scholarship in your family’s name and the impact your collective gifts can have by contacting Tara Maas ’14, senior leadership giving officer, at or 320-363-5078.

Summer 2021 | 37





WHEN YOU SPEND JUST A FEW MINUTES SIGNING UP TO BECOME A SAINT BEN’S SUSTAINER ONLINE, YOU’LL GET … • the comfort of knowing your regular (monthly or quarterly) gifts are providing real scholarship support for today’s Bennies.

• the peace of mind of knowing your gifts happen automatically – there’s nothing for you to remember.

• the pride of knowing that your comfortable, recurring gifts quickly add up.

And now you’ll also get a whole new set of four colorful notecards by Maggie Eli ’17! This year Maggie’s created four seasonal impressions of the iconic Main Building. Mail them as greetings or keep them for yourself as colorful reminders of a place you’ll always be able to call home.


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