The Holy Father’s intention for October is “that Catholic universities may increasingly become places where, in light of the gospel, people may experience the unity of faith and reason.” As every Catholic in America knows, the “Catholic” colleges are becoming more and more secular. Many conservative Catholic grads are horrified by the politics of their alma mater. Others are apathetic because they don’t consider those schools to be “Catholic” anymore.
Although many accept the “secularization” of Catholic higher education as a natural course, they shouldn’t ignore the fact that it is a problem. I doubt one would send their child to Notre Dame for their child’s spiritual life; rather, it has a highly rated department for their chosen major. I understand why Catholics send their children to non-religious universities. There is the classic dilemma: should I send little Augustine to the spiritually strong Catholic university with less academic prestige, or should I send him to an Ivy League where his faith will be severely tested?
My immediate answer to this dilemma is this: there are good Catholic schools. Sure, some have better departments than others. University of Dallas has a good drama department and a mandatory liberal arts core. Christendom is known for its excellent history program. Catholic University has solid philosophy courses and Franciscan University has a top notch nursing program. Last, but certainly not least (writes the TAC student with a twinkle in her eye), Thomas Aquinas College has an intense philosophy and theology double major which is taught by brilliant professors. There are even more schools that have a strong Catholic staff: Wyoming Catholic (an intellectual outdoorsman paradise), Benedictine, and Thomas More.
People CAN and DO become more devout in college and manage to have a pretty good time.
And no, little Augustine, you aren’t going to turn all “homeschooler” or into a hobbit by attending one of these places. You will probably drink a beer with your friends, try your first cigarette (Sorry, Mom) and maybe, if you shower more often and stop quoting Star Wars, you’ll even get a girlfriend. You aren’t sacrificing “the college experience.” Or at least the good part. I gladly sacrifice the part of the experience where your roommate’s boyfriend or girlfriend sleeps over and you have to pretend it’s no big deal.
Sure, you will meet plenty of Catholic wackos, but they will be the nicest wackos you will ever meet. I promise, speaking as a former wacko critic, that you will get used to and love them pretty quickly. But remember, there are always a few wackos not even the wackos understand. Welcome to being Catholic. Offer it up or something. (Don’t you hate when people say that to you? My mother is a school principal so I have the wonderful privilege of hearing that all the time.)
There are always a few wackos not even the wackos understand. Welcome to being Catholic.
On a more serious note, you will be strongly influenced by the people around you. Being a devout Catholic is far easier when you’re practically “peer pressured” into it. A friend of mine, “John Paul”, had a friend who asked him almost everyday if JP would go to mass with him or say a Rosary. After living with this for 3 months, JP told me he was going crazy! This guy was making him not want to pray! By the next year, I was sitting in the car with JP and his friend who were now as thick as thieves. To my complete surprise, JP turned to me and asked me if I would mind saying the Rosary with them since they made a point of saying it everyday. I was deeply touched and smiled through the Rosary during the rest of the ride. The previous week we had been dancing in a parking lot and cracking rude jokes together. Who would have thought?
Take it from me, people CAN and DO become more devout in college and manage to have a pretty good time. Don’t worry, Augustine, plenty of kids just like you have parents who are dragging their useless children to these places so you will have someone you can relate to.
If we want to have vibrant Catholic intellectual communities down the road, we need to build them on a foundation of faith and reason.
If your little Augustine or little Sophia Olivia aren’t convinced, encourage them to visit authentically Catholic colleges. I have yet to meet someone who regretted attending the summer programs that these Catholic schools offer. Make your future saints (ha! You wish, huh?) get a job at the Gelato Spot or Fashion Square to raise the funds. Contact anyone you know attending these schools and ask if your kid can stay with them. Don’t visit during the weekend because most college students are in zombie mode. Visit during the week so your kid can preview classes and get a feel for the student body.
If you are up to visit TAC, let me know. I will gladly show you around, discuss the curriculum, or tease your child about the other colleges they are considering. “University of Dallas? Texas? Really?” (Just kidding about that last part.) If you want to talk about financial aid, the office will meet with you. TAC never turns an applicant away based on his financial situation. How else do you think they would have so many students from families with 10 kids? First, they accept your application…and then ask how you plan on paying tuition. Pretty nifty, I must say.
(TAC is planning to have an open house the 23rd of October. If that doesn’t work for you, call the school and find a good time to visit. The admissions office will let you stay on campus if there’s space available.)
Authentic Catholic colleges want strong Catholic applicants! If we want to have vibrant Catholic intellectual communities down the road, we need to build them on a foundation of faith and reason.Share on Facebook