Fr. Dan Vayno, chaplain of Benedictine University at Mesa, leads a one-mile eucharistic procession from campus to Queen of Peace Parish Sept. 4 where he celebrated the college's first Mass. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN).
Fr. Dan Vayno, chaplain of Benedictine University at Mesa, leads a one-mile eucharistic procession from campus to Queen of Peace Parish Sept. 4 where he celebrated the college’s first Mass. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN).

MESA — Scorching triple-digit temperatures didn’t deter young adults from making history this week. They labeled themselves a downtown college’s first students and they clearly labeled themselves Catholic.

Benedictine University at Mesa students spent their lunch break Sept. 4 in a one-mile eucharistic procession, adoration and Mass. They joined 10 Knights of Columbus in full regalia, university staff and supporters in a walk from campus to Queen of Peace Parish where their chaplain celebrated the first Mass as a college community.

Fr. Dan Vanyo said teachers, students and administrators alike should have loved the first reading from the Book of Proverbs. It described the blessings of wisdom.

“For all of us seeking higher education, isn’t that what you really want, wisdom and understanding?” Fr. Vanyo asked.

He encouraged the students, some who transferred as upperclassmen, to desire wisdom as much as some in the secular world seek the treasure of gold. Benedictine at Mesa offers majors in psychology, communication, criminal justice, theology, fine arts, nutrition and management and organizational behavior.

The chaplain also cautioned students not to leave campus having fully mastered solely academics, but “alongside of that, what you should be studying and longing for: understanding and wisdom of God.”

Fr. Vanyo highlighted Benedictine’s access to the campus chapel, access to the sacraments and other activities that foster a values-centered education.

Benedictine University at Mesa has 93 students in its inaugural class, including many first-generation college students. Each wore a St. Benedict medallion on a lanyard. They were a gift from the university.

Several students noted the chance to create a legacy and the small class sizes as their reason for enrollment. Junior Crystal Luster, who already has an associate degree in criminal justice, also noted the family feel.

“It s more enjoyable to go to school when your teachers care. You learn more,” she said.

Applications are available for spring enrollment.

Ambria Hammel is the staff writer for The Catholic Sun. She began reporting for the award-winning newspaper in 2006.

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