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MY PERSPECTIVE

Living Our Commitment to Community By Michael Hemesath ’81, President “In every parish I have worked, it is the Johnnies and Bennies who are providing the lay leadership to keep the community strong and healthy.” So said a Twin Cities priest when a Johnnie introduced himself and his alma mater came up in the conversation. At a recent reunion, Johnnies honored two of their physician classmates from small Central Minnesota towns, in part for their work in healthcare but more significantly

in this issue, the history of Benedictine service in The Bahamas goes back to 1891, and Bahamian students have been braving Minnesota winters since 1924. This long and deep relationship has without a doubt had the most impact on any community outside of Minnesota, and arguably rivals the influence of Johnnie grads anywhere. When I first visited The Bahamas in 2013, I had the privilege of meeting the Governor-General of The Bahamas, Sir Arthur Foulkes. He was a long-serving politician and ambassador, and an important leader of the independence movement in the Bahamas in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. After centuries of colonial rule, in 1973 The Bahamas earned independence from Britain and became a sovereign nation. The 1960s and ’70s were an era during which many former European colonies became independent, but the Bahamian path was different than that of many other nations. “The independence movement took place with relatively little political, economic and social unrest and almost no violence. I believe this was due in large part to the Catholic and Benedictine influence in The Bahamans,” Sir Arthur said. “Without the Benedictines, the transition to independence and our future could have been very different.”

Many Benedictine-educated men, both from Saint Augustine’s College (high school) in The The February reception in Nassau, Bahamas with members of the SJU Bahamas and at SJU, provided a strong base of Alumni Association and CSB Alumnae Association Bahamas Chapters leaders across political parties that supported a is an annual highlight for Saint John’s President Michael Hemesath and peaceful, democratic transition. Subsequently, Saint Benedict President Mary Hinton. those same leaders and younger Johnnies and Bennies helped maintain political stability for the philanthropic and civic leadership they provided to and economic growth, making The Bahamas one of the help their towns thrive. most well-educated and prosperous nations in the British A big holiday charitable event felt like Reunion on campus Commonwealth. with the participation of dozens of Johnnies and Bennies who had supported and often led one of the most important One of the most important hallmarks of our Benedictine charism and the education we provide at Saint John’s is our social service organizations in the Twin Cities. sense of community. Whether the influence is in a small One of the things that makes SJU and CSB so well-known church parish or in a nation-at-large, we can be immensely and widely respected in Minnesota and beyond is the way proud of how Johnnies past and present have lived their our alumni succeed both personally and professionally commitment to community. – and at the same time contribute to making their communities a better place. Read more perspectives from Michael Hemesath by visiting This is certainly true in The Bahamas. As you will read his blog Quad 136 at blogs.csbsju.edu/mhemesath/

2 WINTER/SPRING 2019

Profile for CSB & SJU

Saint John's Magazine Winter/Spring 2019  

Saint John's Magazine is published in the fall and winter for alumni, parents, friends and the Saint John's University campus community.

Saint John's Magazine Winter/Spring 2019  

Saint John's Magazine is published in the fall and winter for alumni, parents, friends and the Saint John's University campus community.

Profile for csbsju
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