Those negotiations began September 3. That evening, Benedictine students took it upon themselves to organize a masked, socially-distant rosary to pray for their school community. Minnis told CNA that he believes the same time the Rosary began, he was told that there would be "no chance" the county would budge on their order to require students to be isolated in their rooms.
Minnis decided to fast starting at the Thursday evening meeting with the county's negotiation team. The negotiations that night were not ideal, and it did not seem as though Atchison County would change their minds.
But the following morning at 8:15 a.m., when the negotiations started again, he found "a completely different atmosphere" than the one from the previous night.
"There was an atmosphere of unity, not of division," said Minnis. Officials were now "trying to get this resolved, not trying to punish anyone."
An agreement was reached on Friday that appeased both the county and the school.
The new agreement, which is titled "Atchison and Benedictine: Stronger Together" was announced in a press release on September 4. It allows for greater movement on campus for students, while seeking to protect the broader community.
The agreement prohibits students living on campus from leaving campus, except for work, essential activities, or for academic requirements, and allows for students living off-campus to come on campus for "authorized athletic practices, religious services, work study, labs, or other necessary academic purposes."
"By the end of Friday, we had an agreement and, and this agreement allowed us in-person classes. It allows our students to be out and still socialize, still exercise, still go to Mass," said Minnis. He said the county had a "complete turnaround."
"And there's no question about it," said Minnis. "It was Our Lady that did that."
Christine Rousselle is a former DC Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. Prior to working at CNA, she was the managing web editor of Townhall.com; she has a BA in political science from Providence College.