Gone are the days of trusting that a Catholic University will provide a Catholic education.
Sending your kids off to college is certainly a scary prospect for any parent and when you consider what can happen to their faith while there, it can become a topic causing great parental anxiety. A study conducted in 2003 showed that students at many Catholic colleges are significantly more opposed to Church teachings, pray less, and are in many ways less religious than when they were freshmen. If that isn't frightening enough, look at these statistics:
· Whereas a majority of students entered Catholic colleges pro-life (55% opposed to legal abortion, 45% in support), many graduated pro-abortion (57% pro-abortion, 43% pro-life).
· Support for legalizing homosexual "marriages" increased from 55% to 71% by senior year.
· Approval of having sex with someone known "for only a very short time" increased from 30% to 49% by senior year.
· Although 15% of seniors reported much stronger religious beliefs and convictions than when they were freshmen, the same growth was reported by 12% of seniors at nonsectarian colleges and 24% of seniors at other religious colleges (mostly Protestant).
· Only 37% of seniors prayed more than one hour a week; 31% didn't pray at all.
· Among Catholic students, 9% left the faith by graduation. Although 11% of non-Catholic students converted to the Church, their actual numbers were smaller and still left Catholic colleges with a net 4% loss of Catholics.
· Among Catholic seniors, 13% did not attend a religious service in the past year (a four-fold increase since their freshman year), and about half attended only occasionally.The Good News
10% of all American Catholic schools are excelling at keeping Christ on the campus and in the classroom. The list grows yearly and now the Catholic universities know that we are watching. Two unrelated programs are taking measure and are publishing a yearly list of the universities who are up to snuff. To see how they decide which schools make the list, you can check out The Newman Guide and National Catholic Register's Catholic Identity College Guide. The Newman Guide lists 21 Catholic universities and NCR lists 26. I will include them all in the list below:
- Aquinas College, Nashville TN
- Ave Maria University, Ave Maria FL
- Augustine Institute, Denver CO
- Belmont Abbey College, Belmont NC
- Benedictine College, Atchinson KS
- Catholic Distance University, Hamilton VA
- Catholic University of America, Washington D.C.
- Christendom College, Front Royal VA
- College of St. Thomas More, Fort Worth TX
- DeSales University, Center Valley PA
- Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH
- Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Cromwell CT
- Institute for the Psychological Sciences, Arlington VA
- John Paul the Great Catholic University, San Diego CA
- Magdalen College, Warner NH
- Mount St. Mary's University, Emmitsburg MD
- Our Lady of Corpus Christi, TX
- St. Gregory's University, Shawnee OK
- St. Joseph's College of Maine, Standish
- Souther Catholic College, Dawsonville GA
- Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula CA
- Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, Merrimack NH
- University of Dallas, TX
- University of Sacramento, CA
- University of St. Thomas, Houston TX
- Walsh University, North Canton OH
- Wyoming Catholic College, Lander WY
- Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, Ontario Canada
A university or school's Catholic identity is not simply a question of the number of Catholic students. It is a question of conviction - do we really believe that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man truly become clear (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22)? Are we ready to commit our entire self - intellect and will, mind and heart - to God? Do we accept the truth Christ reveals? Is the faith tangible in our universities and schools? Is it given fervent expression liturgically, sacramentally, through prayer, acts of charity, a concern for justice, and respect for God's creation? Only in this way do we really bear witness to the meaning of who we are and what we uphold.
Clearly, then, Catholic identity is not dependent upon statistics. Neither can it be equated simply with orthodoxy of course content. It demands and inspires much more: namely that each and every aspect of your learning communities reverberates within the ecclesial life of faith. Only in faith can truth become incarnate and reason truly human, capable of directing the will along the path of freedom (cf. Spe Salvi, 23). In this way our institutions make a vital contribution to the mission of the Church and truly serve society. They become places in which God's active presence in human affairs is recognized and in which every young person discovers the joy of entering into Christ's "being for others" (cf. ibid., 28).
The Holy Father made his standards very clear with no room for bending and placed the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the educators. Perhaps more and more Catholic universities will now see the yoke beneath the dusty heaps of paperwork. It is a yoke not of budgets and athletic teams, but the yoke of Jesus Christ they are to wear with the boldness of the Apostles.