CaStudentsW3rl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, has been named the first recipient of the BLI TEXT ONLY-01Benedict Leadership Award. The Award, given by the Benedict Leadership Institute at Belmont Abbey College, was presented in a public ceremony at Belmont Abbey College on March 24.

Anderson arrived at Belmont Abbey College at 3 p.m. on the day of event so he could have a private session with our Hintemeyer Scholarship students, as well as visit the St. Joseph’s Adoration Chapel and Mira Via on his tour of our campus. His wife Dorian accompanied him as our president Dr.Bill Thierfelder and our Dean of Admissions Nicole Focareto gave him the up close look at the Abbey.

The Institute selected Anderson above all for his leadership in aiding and advocating for persecuted Christians in the Middle East. As Supreme Knight, Anderson has repeatedly called for the protection of Christians facing genocide in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, and has raised more than $11 million for humanitarian relief of Christian refugees.

“While your life displays numerous reasons for being worStudentsW2thy of the Benedict Leadership Award, the Board wished to honor and highlight your leadership in one area in particular: Your resolute defense of persecuted Christians,” wrote Executive Director Conor Gallagher in his selection letStudents-Wter to Anderson. “This is an area of great concern to the Board, and it is our hope that your Award will bring attention and relief to persecuted Christians and move the public to act more decisively in their behalf.”

The Benedict Leadership Institute was founded in 2016 to develop and inspire Catholic leaders to transform society in light of their faith. The Benedict Leadership Award is a key activity of the Institute. The Institute will confer the Award annually beginning in 2017, recognizing outstanding men and women whose achievements reflect the heroic leadership of St. Benedict. Recipients deliver a public address in their area of leadership, and are presented with a $10,000 cash prize.

In his addressEventW, held in the Abbey’s Haid Ballroom, Anderson spoke candidly about the challenges our Christian brethren face in the Middle East and disclosed that he is donating the cash award to Knights of Columbus’ efforts to aid the Yazidi Christian women who are coming out of slavery from ISIS who are receiving aid in the medical clinic in Erbil.

“If anyone had asked me who should be the first recipient should be for the first award, I would have nominated Belmont Abbey College for the defense of our religious liberty that you undertook when you stood up against the HHS mandate. We think about individuals being leaders, but institutions have to be too. Institutions can only lead when they have a community of leaders dedicated and can understand the moral purpose and the moral mission and certainly this great college has such a community of leadership and a community of vision.”

During his keynote address, Anderson highlighted the plight of Christians in the Middle East. “Christianity was born in the Middle East. We often forget that today,” he said. “For the first 1,000 years the Middle East was the center of Christendom… For the past 100 years Christians have been squeezed out of the Middle East. “From 1910 to 2010 the New York Times reports that the Christian population of the region went from 14 percent to 4 percent. That was before ISIS.” Anderson explained that the Christians who survived despite earlier forms of genocide did so in large measure because of direct aid from the American government and the American people. “A century ago our government understood that these people needed to be saved. It was a public/private partnership. Government officials including President Woodrow Wilson urged Americans to assist those who were facing extinction.”

Anderson called on the United States and the UN to come to the aid of all persecuted Christians in the Middle East, and outlined how we as citizens can also help.

For more see the story from the Catholic News Herald

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