Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Sites of Saint Meinrad: Cupertino’s Course

by Krista Hall

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If you've been to Saint Meinrad recently or are planning a trip soon, you might notice several metal baskets attached to poles scattered around the grounds. These aren't fancy bird feeders; they're disc golf goals.

"That basket is way more satisfying than regular golf, because you get the nice cha-ching accomplishment sound when you get your disc in," explains Deacon Kelly Edwards, a Fourth Theology seminarian who helped lead the disc golf course project.

Disc golf is a lot like regular golf, except players throw discs, like Frisbees, instead of hit balls. The goal is to get your disc to the basket in the fewest number of throws.

Edwards came up with the idea of installing a course at Saint Meinrad about six years ago, but it wasn't until recently that the project was set in motion.

He thought Saint Meinrad was a beautiful place, but rarely saw anyone walking the grounds. He knows a lot of seminarians would never just go for a walk, but they would play disc golf. Having a course on campus would be a good way to get people outside to enjoy the grounds, get a little exercise and have fellowship.

Edwards eventually brought the idea to Fr. Tobias Colgan, OSB, vice rector in our Seminary and School of Theology. Fr. Tobias was excited, but he didn't know if there was funding or what kind of timeline this project would involve.

Deacon Colby Elbert joined the project and they began to discuss how to make the idea a reality. They were attempting to build something they could leave behind after they graduate this spring.

"There really isn't precedent for seminarians proposing a construction project," says Edwards.

At their first meeting, they decided they needed a patron saint. They chose St. Joseph Cupertino, who is the patron of students and flying things because he levitated during prayer. When the meeting was over, Edwards received an email notifying him that day was the feast of St. Joseph Cupertino. After that, things just seemed to fall into place.

"It was very much a step-by-step process," explains Elbert. "Kelly had the idea, saw the opportunity, asked the formation staff, the monks were open to it and Kelly started drawing up plans for the course. There was also a chance meeting with not only saints in heaven."

While playing disc golf in Louisville, KY, Elbert met a guy who had helped design some disc golf courses. He got Elbert in touch with David Greenwell, a professional disc golf player.

Greenwell actually had ties to Saint Meinrad. His dad was a friend of a monk and they would come to campus to hunt and fish when he was a child. So Greenwell volunteered his time and came to Saint Meinrad to help design the course.

Although the course was designed, they figured they still would have to wait another year to fund the project. Then, Fr. Tobias found out there was no seminary project scheduled for the fiscal year and funds were available to order the baskets.

The baskets were assembled and installed at the beginning of the fall semester, and students, monks and co-workers began to hit Cupertino's Course.

A typical course is made up of 18 holes. Saint Meinrad has a half course of nine holes that covers 1.5 miles if you walk it. The course was designed to be expanded, if more funding becomes available.

"It really does help get you out into creation and nature," says Edwards. "It puts you in places on the Hill that you wouldn't normally go. When you're at Saint Meinrad every day, you kind of forget you're here."

The course gives people a different view of the seminary and helps get the students away from their routine. It's also a way for the seminarians to build community.

"Men bond through common activity," says Elbert. "It's a way where they can do something together and build those fraternal bonds that are important not just for seminary formation."

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.


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