Catholic university with majority non-Catholic student population

The Catholic university in which I work has a majority non-Catholic student population. (I have no information on the number of non-Catholics among faculty and administrators.) While I do not object to this, being non-Catholic myself, I wonder whether it is a little odd, even for New York City, or whether it is typical of many Catholic universities across the country. If typical, what do Catholics, as well as non-Catholics, think of this trend: is it positive in an ecumenical or evangelistic sense or negative in a secularized sense?

I wonder if the Catholic universities that try to emphasis their Catholic identity such as Steubenville or Ave Maria University will have a larger Catholic student population than those Catholic universities that do not emphasize their Catholic identity such as Brown Univeristy and Georgetown which seem to deemphasize Catholic identity.

I think you will find there was a movement in the 60s in Catholic Universities that attempted to separate the Church function from the Education function. I pray to God that it will one day revert, on the basis that it didn’t work.


My younger daughter is not Catholic, and she attended and graduated from a Catholic university. Her favorite professors were the unapologetically Catholic to the core people! And she joined in with the Mass and especially loved the traditional Catholic music.

What’s even more typical is that many of the Catholics who attend these “Catholic” universities have essentially abandoned practicing their faith (except when their parents are visiting), and believe mainly in having fun, being free from their parents and all the rules, and of course, drinking as much alcohol as possible without dying. Each year, during the first week of school at my daughter’s university, dozens of underage drinking parties were busted by the cops, and most of the kids spend Sundays in the “Church of the Inner Springs” rather than attending Mass at the gorgeous church on campus or at the world-famous basilica right down the road from the university. Hopefully these kids will come back to the Church when they grow up. My daughter found this very discouraging during her first few years at the school. As she got older, she found a group of friends who were serious about their Catholicism, and roomed with them, and is still friends with many of them.

I went to a public university, but the campus was adjacent to a Catholic Jesuit College. The two schools interacted in a lot of ways. I always got the impression that nearly all of the students at the Jesuit college were Catholic. They weren’t really known for an outstanding program in any subject. It was mostly liberal arts and theology.

Catholic colleges have become very successful academically and some of them attract the best of the best. If being Catholic is not used in the admission process but rather other criteria it would seem vary possible for for a Catholic college to be full of non-Catholics seeking the best education they can afford. Of course, places such as Ave Maria and other colleges where being part of a total Catholic experience is emphasized, I would bet there are very few non-Catholics attending.

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