The Saint Benedict Institute, a ministry of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, has welcomed Fr. Nicholas Monco, O.P. as the Institute’s chaplain with a full-time ministry to Hope College Catholics. The appointment was made by Bishop David Walkowiak of the Diocese of Grand Rapids in conjunction with the Central Province of the Order of Preachers.
The Saint Benedict Institute is an intellectual and spiritual institute that serves Hope College. It operates on campus through a covenantal partnership between the church and the college’s Campus Ministries program, one of a variety of such arrangements with area churches.
“Fr. Nick will be essential for our goal of forming students intellectually and spiritually so that they will be thoughtful and joyful witnesses to Christ's love,” said Jared Ortiz, associate professor of religion at Hope College and director of the Saint Benedict Institute.
Although Hope has been affiliated with the Reformed Church in America (RCA) for the entirety of the college's history, the religious heritage of the campus community has become increasingly diverse through the years, particularly as Hope has extended its reach nationally and globally. RCA students now comprise nine percent of the student body, with 10 other denominations consistently represented and another 26 percent of the college's students identifying as Christian but non-denominational. Roman Catholic is the largest single representation at 18 percent.
Monco, who will have an office in Lubbers Hall, will coordinate his work with the college's Campus Ministries team, which is led by the Rev. Dr. Trygve Johnson, the Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel at Hope.
“As a Christian community of faith committed to an ecumenical experience, I am thrilled that Hope will have as a resource a committed Catholic priest, rooted within the local diocese, to be ministering to students and faculty on campus,” Johnson said. “We believe that a truly ecumenical college will allow the giving and sharing of gifts of the Christian tradition that will inspire deeper conversation, intellectual formation, and spiritual growth in the soil of Hope.”
Monco was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Claremont McKenna College in California, where he majored in philosophy and business. He then pursued the priesthood with the Central Province of the Order of Preachers (commonly known as the Dominican Order), centered in Chicago. He received a Master of Theology and Master of Divinity degree from the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri, where he also earned a certificate in Thomistic Studies. He was ordained in 2013 and has taught theology at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois, for the past four years.
Monco will officially join the Saint Benedict Institute staff on August 1. Once the school year begins, he will offer daily Mass on campus, frequent confession, and weekly adoration. He will lead Bible studies and the rosary as well as a Vocation Discernment Program.
More information about Saint Benedict Institute.