Students recognized for essays analyzing impact of Vatican II

March 21, 2012

VII SyposiumLisle, Illinois ~ Three college students and a senior from Glenbard North High School were recognized by the Office of University Ministry at Benedictine University for their essays examining the Second Vatican Council.

The students were honored at a symposium held earlier this month featuring a panel of area academicians and religious scholars who reflected on the forces that shaped Vatican II and the impact it had – and continues to have – on the modern-day Church.

The topic of the essay and the question the symposium sought to address is, "Why did Pope John XXIII, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, convene the Second Vatican Council?"

The first-prize winner in the college category was Edward Trendowski, a resident of Alexandria, Va. and a Ph.D. student in Religious Education and Catechetics at the Catholic University of America. His interest on the Second Vatican Council dates back to his undergraduate days at St. Joseph's College of Maine.

Second prize in the college division went to Kevin Byrnes, the son of Robert Byrnes of Glen Ellyn and Sueanne Byrnes of Downers Grove, a 2008 graduate of Downers Grove North H.S. and a Theology major at Benedictine University. Byrnes, who will graduate from Benedictine in the spring of 2013, plans to pursue a career of ministry with the Roman Catholic Church.

Sean McConnell, a junior at Benedictine University at Springfield, was named the third-prize recipient. McConnell is involved with Campus Ministry, Student Government and many other organizations at the Springfield branch campus. A History major and Art minor, he is the seventh member of his family and third generation to attend Benedictine University Springfield.

The high school essay winner was Matthew Daley, a senior at Glenbard North High School (Carol Stream, Ill.) who has participated in cross country and track as well as the scholastic bowl team at his high school. Daley, who said he enjoys reading about the history of the Roman Catholic Church and Europe as a whole, plans to study History and Religious Studies at Benedictine in the fall.

Other essayists recognized for their participation in the competition were: Aseiya Begum, the son of Mohammed Shakoor of Des Plaines and Anwarunissa Begum of Gurnee; Alvin Jackson, the son of Alvin and Ronay Jackson of East St. Louis; Rene Torres, the son of Otoniel and Maria Torres of Chicago; and Joseph Ward, the son of James and Karen Ward of Evergreen Park.

The essay contest for high school and college students was divided into two divisions. High school students were invited to write 1,000-word essays that draw from historical and theological primary sources, in part, while college division participants were asked to write a 1,500-word essay drawing extensively from historical and theological sources.

Essay winners in both divisions received certificates and monetary awards applicable to tuition credit at Benedictine University. The winning essays have been published on "Constellation," Benedictine University's online journal which is part of the searchable "GoogleScholar" collection.

For more information, contact Mark Kurowski, Director of University Ministry at Benedictine University, at (630) 829-6029 or


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls more than 5,000 students in 59 undergraduate and 23 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the seventh consecutive year in 2017. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, or visit

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