Catholic college - some advice


Hi everyone, I tried searching for a thread like this but did not have any luck. I’m entering my junior year of high school and pretty soon it is going to be college search time. I really want to attend a Catholic school but I’m not looking for a tiny school (Ave Maria, Christendom) that is faithful to church teachings.

I do plan on looking at Franciscan.

Are there any other schools out there besides the usual responses of Franciscan, Christendom, and Ave Maria, that are faithful to the magesterium?

Does anyone know about the following school, Sacred Heart University? It is the size i’m looking for and in New England but I don’t know much about its orthodoxy.

Thank you!


The first step is to determine whether their theology professors have the Mandatum.

Here are some links to read:


I cannot recommend Franciscan enough !!! Especially if you are discerning a vocation to the religious life, it is the ONLY place to be.

Franciscan puts Our Lord Jesus at the center of everything, and that is why they are so successful at preparing young people to live out their Catholic faith with dynamic orthodoxy. :thumbsup:

Something you will find at Franciscan that you won’t find anywhere else is Households. These are groups of young men and women who get together to pray every Saturday (Lord’s Day) and are formed around a particular spirituality or devotion. The households also may eat or socialize together, but mainly they are a support network.

I recommend doing a “Come & See” weekend where you can live in the dorm and attend classes to get a real taste of campus life.
It is like no other university in America.

My oldest daughter is a 2005 grad of Franciscan, a theology/ religious ed. major. She got a fabulous education there and was well prepared to go out and catechize.

Best wishes in your search and discernment !



Oh, and since you are contemplating a religious vocation-- have you looked at the Sister Of Life?


It’s a pretty small college, but from what I understand, pretty faithful to the Church: Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina. (I was just informed yesterday of my acceptence!)

It is just outside of Charlotte, so there is always something to do even though the college itself is small, but you were looking for something different…well, Good luck!


Southern Catholic near Atlanta is also supposed to be a good, faithful school.

I’m a Steubenville grad. It’s a good school but not great about scholarship money. My hubby was there last fall for a reunion and was shocked at the debt the students are willing to incur to attend. It’s way more than their earning potential. (frankly, I’m not sure that’s good stewardship)

Good luck choosing a school! —KCT


Dear AdvanceAlways,

In addition to the typical small Catholic schools you mentioned, I’d like to mention a few more.

St. Thomas Aquinas College is a school as small as Christendom, which has a, “great books” curriculum, just like St. John’s College (Annapolis and Santa Fe). However, it is extremely Catholic. It’s a very different type of thing, and it’s probably not what you’re looking for, but in another life I might have wanted to go there. (The curriculum consists completely of reading, “great books” and discussing them in seminars.)

The University of Dallas is a small Catholic college in Texas. They have Cistercians there, if I remember correctly. They are very faithful to the Magisterium. They have a very robust core curriculum. However, they are also much more rigorous intellectually than, say, Steubenville. My impression on the intellectual rigor of these schools was:

  1. St. Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, California
  2. University of Dallas
  3. Christendom
  4. Franciscan of Steubenville

I never researched Ave, so I can’t rank it.

As for Sacred Heart… I don’t know. Good luck paying for Sacred Heart… seriously. Hehe, from what I remember from my friends, you may have a tough time getting much money from them. Instead, let me recommend a different college to you.

Granted, I’m a bit biased, but it is the college which I currently attend. Providence College.

Providence has the great advantage of being a Dominican college-- the only one in America, in fact. The Dominicans, I find, are very faithful to the Church, and intellectually very curious.

Last year, my freshman year, I was able to take advantage of many of the spiritual benefits of having the Dominicans on campus. During Lent, especially, when I went to the morning Mass at the Priory-- first Lauds (morning prayer) chanted, then Morning Mass. Besides this, I’ve had the chance to meet many good Dominicans. My professor for my last theology class was a Dominican brother who is both brilliant and faithful. One of my professors for my Western Civilization course, a Dominican friar, was probably the kindest, gentlest men I’ve ever met-- besides being incredibly well versed in many areas of knowledge.

Providence does have the advantage of being in New England as well.

At Providence you won’t find the strident orthodoxy provided at the small bastions of Catholicism at places like Christendom and St. Thomas Aquinas College. However, I do believe you will find a thorough orthodoxy here. It has been my experience that that is the case. Fr. Shanley (our college president) has been one of the few people to stand up and prohibit a certain play which is contrary to Catholic values (more of a vehicle of radical feminism).

There are downsides to Providence of course-- I wouldn’t want to lie or leave those out. The student body is very conflicted-- Providence is well known as a party school, and after being there, yes, it does live up to its billing. There is a lot of this, and if you’d be very uncomfortable with it, it wouldn’t be the place for you to go. However, I do know many good, committed Catholics who go to Providence, who don’t, “party.” In my experience those who want to live a holy Catholic life and follow orthodox Catholic teaching can easily do it. Just realize you will be doing it among a student body of which a large portion, unfortunately, has chosen to live according to the world.

My friends and I are all trying to do our best to be good Catholics. There are plenty of group rosaries which I was a part of, and my friends are trying, among other things, to start a theology club on campus and a knights of columbus council. Mass is available every day at 7:30 at the priory, and at 11:35 AM, 4:30 PM, and 9:00 PM at St. Dominic’s chapel. Confession is available on Wednesday afternoons for an hour before 4:30 and two hours before 9:00 Mass, during which there is adoration (although I’m not sure if the Wednesday adoration schedule will continue), as well as on Saturday scheduled for an hour before the Vigil Mass. Naturally, of course, the campus is crawling with Friars in Dominican habits, and its no problem tracking down a Dominican for confession.

If you were really considering Sacred Heart, then I think Providence may in fact be a better fit for you. Look into it, and feel free to ask me any questions. God bless.



P.S. The other advantages to having the Dominicans:

They have the Dominican House of Studies (DHS) in Washington DC, right next to Catholic University campus. When we (PC for Life) went on the March for Life we were warmly welcomed at the DHS. On the March itself, we got to go with the Dominicans-- it was a great privilege to be able to go with them. My former theology teacher went back there, because he needs to be ordained, and I sure hope we get him back.


I’ll agree with KCT and her husband on the fact the Franciscan is extremely expensive. Now if you can get a scholarship, or have money to pay to go there then it may be worth your while.

Here is my advice about Franciscan…

  1. Do not just major in Theology without double majoring in another subject such as Business, Science, Communications unless you plan on marrying a rich man or woman!

  2. There are no high paying jobs in Theology, and if you’re thinking of teaching at a higher level (which of course you’ll need a Masters and PhD) there are even less

  3. Do not go there just so you can take classes with Dr. Hahn. Dr. Regis Martin is one of the Professors who gets overlooked quite a bit as does Fr. Bramwell (he’s no longer there).

  4. If you’d like to go there, I’d take as many classes in high school that I am able to CLEP out of so it reduces my load when there.

  5. Franciscan has an indentured servant program, get used to working for free:)

Here is my advice too about fiancial aid at Franciscan, its not always about who is in the greatest of need for the money, its also about who you know.

Everytime Franciscan calls me for money, I always tell the student calling that I only donate directly to the Communication Arts department.

KCT have you noticed them calling way more often lately?


Benedictine in KS


I second the suggestion to have a look at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina. A good sign of its orthodoxy is the fact that Patrick Madrid is establishing the Envoy Institute on the campus.


Another FUS Grad here (Biology, '04)

Great school, can’t recommend it enough. I got some scholarships but it only made a dent. Somehow my parents have managed to put three daughters through there (and we are only 4 years apart in age!) and we all came out on graduation day with no debt. Thanks, Mom and Dad!


If the finances don’t come through, don’t despair!

There are SOME outstanding Newmann Centers on public university campuses. I have the U of Illinois Newmann Center and its Koinonia program to thank for my bride!

Then again, the centers at some other Univs STINK! Discern carefully.


You might be surprised at other programs at other colleges and universities may actually fit you better for college. Other schools focus on other parts of Catholic Theology, in living it more.

In Minnesota you have.
St. John’s University (co-ed classes with St Bens, 2 campuses) (OSB)
College of St Benedict (OSB)
St Thomas University
St. Mary’s University-Winona (Christian Brother)
St Scholastica - Duluth

Wisconsin has Edgewood College in Madison
St Norbert-Green Bay
Viterbo - LaCrosse
Silver Lake College - Mantiowoc
Cardnial Stritch Milwaukee
Marquette - Milwaukee
Alvernia - Milwaukee

Here is the entire list broken down by religious order.

North Dakota has University of Mary in Bismarck


Thanks for all the replies everyone! I don’t intend on being a theology major so that probably won’t be a problem. Yikes! I didn’t know about the cost factor! Well I have plenty of time to work everything out haha! Thanks for the wise words everyone!



As many of you mentioned, paying for college is an important factor in choosing a school.

My daughter, the 2005 FUS grad. got very little financial aid, maybe $3000 a year tops, including work study. She did work as and RA her junior & senior years, which gace her free room & board.

However, most of her college was paid for through loans which we took out - PLUS loans they are called. The down side to this is that they come payable while the student is still in school. There is no deferrment till after graduation. So we were making payments by January of her freshman year which continued through till the end. Now she has picked up her loan payments and they add up to about $1000 a month after refinancing them. This includes her Stafford loans. All in all she owes about $60,000 for her college education.

She is working in campus ministry at a Catholic High School, but had to move South (we live in MA) to be able to afford to live on her own. She makes enought to get by on a very no frills life style.

Second daughter went to Seton Hall - cost about $35,000 a year. She got scholarships to get it down to $25,000 a year, but we still had to come up with that. After getting maxed out for PLUS loans on the first daughter, this one had to take out personal loans which we co-signed from SallieMae - this is a much better deal because they do defer them till after graduation. She graduated in May owing about $75,000. She is looking for a teaching job, which will pay her bills but not leave much left over.

Lots of kids cannot go to college because of the cost, if parents are not able to borrow for them they have a tough time of it. And coming out with a huge debt is a burden to begin life with.

Just be aware of the financial committment before you make a decision.

Scholarships which pay for everything are very rare and very competitive. It is especially hard to get financial aid at the small Catholic schools because they are usually not well endowed.

best wishes !


What Margie says it right. Plus, don’t forget to factor in room and board costs into your overall costs. It really adds up. That PC offered me a scholarship is a huge reason why I’m there right now. College is expensive!


P.S. That being said, if you really want to go somewhere, the money issue can be taken care of, but you’ll have to weigh that for yourself.


Back to the topic at hand, Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas is a wonderful school. It is on the grounds of a Benedictine Abbey, and is sponsored by the Abbey and a Monastery of nuns from across town.


I dont know if its at all what your looking for but I know there is a catholic school in north carolina


Im sure I want to attend a catholic school im just not sure where yet and this is the only one I know of


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