Can anything be done to save Catholic colleges?

Yes, there are a few, like Christendom, that remain faithful to Catholic teaching, but a a greater number seem swamped by secularism. Many so-called Catholic colleges have professors who defiantly undermine Catholic teaching. The colleges allow performances of the ‘Vagina Monologues’, Gonzaga has an LGBTQ Rights Clinic, and the Jesuit Le Moyne allows a drag show.

Here’s a truly depressing quote from this article:

“The Catholic Church is losing more than 90 percent of Catholic young people by the end of their college years”.

Any ideas?


I go to a Catholic Franciscan college with one semester left (not Steubenville) that has 20+ friars that you see walking around daily and some live in the dorms. Very heavily Franciscan values based in every class in every major.

Also very active campus ministry with different spiritual events happening every night from praise and worship to adoration to lectio divina to the rosary. There are also 4 masses offered on sundays that are packed. It’s certainly not perfect but I think it’s much better than the majority of Catholic colleges.

We also have a very active RCIA program which has around 4-6 candidates and catechumens every year. The bishop of our diocese comes around Easter and confirms, baptized, and gives first communion to these people.


Don’t go to a Catholic college. Go to a secular college with a strong Catholic campus ministry. Rutgers, Texas A&M, FSU, are some.

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And to clarify, I’m not advocating against going to a Catholic school. There seems to be this need to attend a Catholic school that isn’t right. I would rather have my kids attend a public school with good Catholic support then attend a Catholic school that doesn’t. As far as how to change Catholic schools gone astray, nothing besides what you can do for everything else - don’t support it by sending your money there. The local Catholic University here is run by a board (the religious order has minimal input) - they are concerned with enrollment, alumni donations and research grants (the things that bring in cash to keep the university running). After that is the Catholic identity. It’s not right, but that’s how it is.


Catholic University of America is an example of a college that went haywire, but came back to orthodoxy.

The key, is the Catholic University of America has an orthodox board of directors (aka the Bishops).

As long a Catholic colleges have lukewarm Catholics and non-practicing Catholics on their Board of Directors, they will never return to faith.

In my opinion, the local bishops need to give these colleges an ultimatum. Shape up or stop calling themselves Catholic.

Some to will decide to become truly secular schools, while other will return.

The key is the that the bishops need to make that ultimatum and the bishops need to realize that the Catholic colleges will not return without such ultimatums.


There are options between ultimatums and doing nothing.
(Was it really an “ultimatum” that turned CUA?)

In the end, it is a lot like the high schools: Catholic universities aren’t going to be more Catholic than their supporting alumni and the families that pay the tuition.

I guess there are options in-between. But I can’t think of one that is going to offer immediate action.

All the other options I can think of will take a few generations…

I always am amused at that “universal” comments about Catholic colleges and universities.

Several years ago, CARA did a study of Catholics attending Mass and broke it down by age groups. The lowest attendance rate (weekly Mass) was among the 18 to 29 age group.

And I am aware of what has gone on at some Catholic colleges and universities over the last 40 or so years, including named universities and some of what has happened at them (e.g. Notre Dame) and agree that what has happened in those instances reflect not well on Catholicism, not to mention common sense.

However, there is far more Catholicism going on in those Catholic colleges and universities that never is heard about, mostly because it would be “ho-hum” news - in other words, expected, under the purview of Catholicism - in other words, not news worthy.

And so we find segments of Catholics getting on their high horse and condemning not just the incident, but the whole of the institution as if it is entirely corrupt; they ignore the fact that Catholicism is alive and well at many Catholic colleges and universities.

So I am not particularly inclined to blame the universities and colleges for why graduates leave the Church; blaming that on the institutions ignores one major fact: almost all of those who leave the faith ;had at least one parent, possibly 2, who were Catholic. By the time an individual reaches college age, they have achieved a significant development in what it means to be a Catholic - and the primary and most significant factor in their Catholic identity comes from their home environment.

Given that their parents are in the age group above them, and less than half of that age group attends Mass weekly, it should be no surprise to anyone that the children have modeled their parents - not to mention that the kids were/are raised in a time of even more secular and immoral forces are widespread throughout society. To mention only one thing - the immediate availability of pornography on the internet - there are a multitude of studies on teenage access to and use of it.

My parish has both a Catholic grade school and religious instruction for the children not going to Catholic school, and both groups of children have parents who do not attend Mass on Sunday with any regularity. “Do as I say, not as I do” never has been an effective method of teaching much of anything, let alone the faith. And then we wonder why kids leave the Church/


It is simplistic at the extreme to blame the colleges.

You’re right that it’s everyone’s fault that solid Catholic teaching isn’t being passed on to the next generation.

However, some fields really are not taught in depth, such as theology or biblical scholarship, until at the university level, and that’s simply collapsed in most of the secularized Catholic colleges. Also, without strong Catholic arguments which should come at the university level, how many young adults believe it simply doesn’t matter whether they continue to live as Catholic?

Lord help our young people to find and stay involved in their Catholic Faith. You are The Way, The Truth, The Life help them to see that. Amen!

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Catholic colleges offer the sentiment of the faith, like going to church on Christmas or Easter. To save them maybe you need to address the sentimentalism at large. It might help if Sunday homilies everywhere were a little tougher, making the faith more than the nice feeling which seems to be about the only thing some families go to church or Catholic college for.

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We can pray and ask for St. Monica’s help in the intercession. The Holy Spirit doesn’t take that long.
(But it would be wise to have a friend in prayer who understands perseverance…)

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I don’t think anyone is saying that all Catholic colleges not on the Cardinal Newman Society List and/or the National Catholic Register’s list are automatically heretical colleges.

I agree that there are many colleges not on any list which are pretty Catholic.

I think when we talk about the “faith less” Catholic colleges - they are typically the ones that have straight out rejected Ex Corde Ecclesiae, colleges that strongly support Land-o-Lakes, and/or colleges that have administrations who believe their schools have to be “less Catholic” in order to stay competitive.

In other words, they still buy into the idea that college rankings comes first & Catholic identity comes last.

Both the Cardinal Newman Society List & the National Catholic Register list require colleges to fill out a survey to determine whether they are following Ex Corde Ecclesiae. I’m sure there are colleges who are following it who do not apply for recognition. However, I have to be honest, I don’t know why a school would feel the need to avoid being on one of the lists?

Anyway, yes, there are many good schools and no one is saying that parent’s aren’t to blame.

Personally, I really think it comes down to the “Notre Dame test:”

The University of Notre Dame was one of the hard choices. At the time there were faithful professors and students on campus (and there still are). But there were also clear examples of opposition to the faith from many on campus.

In order to resolve our dilemma, we spoke with the late Dr. Charles Rice, a faithful Catholic and long-time law professor at Notre Dame. He helped us find the bottom line. He said that at Notre Dame, “a kid who is struggling with his faith will sink like a stone.”

Catholic colleges should focus on trying to provide an environment where the kid who is struggling with his/faith will be supported, not sink.

NOTE: I wish the Cardinal Newman Society and/or National Catholic Register would add at least a 2nd level ranking (aka some kind of honorable mention).

God Bless

Catholic Universities offer secular plays, theatre, etc. We are not forbidden from secular plays.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

I had a visit to Notre Dame, made me want to go back to college. The availibilty of Mass is astonishing on campus.

Born into a 3rd generation preacher’s family, my least religious time was late teens/early 20s. I do not think this is anything new under the sun.


Our Concordia College and University System faces many of the same problems. It seems to me that the issues boil down to a couple of things: 1) lack of a clear mission, and 2) bad stewardship from those leading the universities. One of the things we have seen is that as the Concordia Universities have tried to appeal to a broader segment of the population. So in order to increase the student body population to bring in more revenue, you see that the universities offer a broader array of degrees and courses. This has two effects, you being to focus on attracting those who don’t share your religious background and are not willing to be shaped by the religious nature of the institution, and you end up hiring secular professors who similarly are less interested in adapting to the university’s religious mission and are more interested in forcing the university to adapt to the secular world around it. This seems to be wrong-headed to me. I would rather the university focus on core mission and appeal to a smaller but like-minded population dedicated to the religious nature of the university’s mission statement. With regard to bad stewardship, this involves university presidents being more concerned about financial aspects than with accomplishing the mission. This is what leads them to hire people not likely to share the same values as the university’s religious nature, and to succumb to secular pressures to allow for behaviors that violate the core values the institution is supposed to represent.

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. . . .

When viewed from the eyes of the young people that are leaving, . . . they do not want to . . . have anything to do with an organization that is . . . fraught by sex and financial scandals. . . .

We have a major PR problem, entirely of our own creation, and only we can remedy that. By living the Gospels and loving our neighbors . . . . By being a light to the world that young people would want to emulate rather than abhor in disgust.

Try looking at the church from the eyes of the average millennial or member of Generation Z. Honestly.

Then do what has to be done. And prosper. . . .

The choice is ours.

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When viewed from the eyes of the young people that are leaving, the choice is obvious. Why should they have anything to do with an organization that is rife with homophobia and misogyny, that too closely aligns itself with right wing or reactionary political parties, that is fraught by sex and financial scandals, and otherwise doesn’t seem to offer anything they value or need?

Sorry, but every single time - every! single! time! - a church has been liberalized, it; dwindles into nothingness. Remember the former Episcopalian church?

As for your argument that the Catholic church shouldn’t embrace “reactionary political parties” I am sure everyone will agree. The church shouldn’t be liberal or conservative,. It should continue being the Catholic church, holding to eternal truths, period. Political fads of any era are merely trivial pursuits, soon to vanish.

And gee, you seriously think we should align ourselves with the keen and penetrating wisdom of “Generation Z”???

I am astounded.


What a disgusting comment.


And gee, you seriously think we should treat them condescendingly and alienate them forever. And insult them with a total lack of charity as you just did.

Because once they go, exceedingly few will ever consider coming back.

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