Faithful Catholics at non-Catholic colleges


As a parent with children approaching college age, I would like to know at which non-Catholic colleges faithful, practicing Catholics (i.e. daily Mass, daily prayer at home, frequent confession etc.) might find either a vibrant parish community or really solid on-campus Catholic life. I would especially appreciate any first-hand information. Many thanks.

It’s hard to name just a few… I think there are going to be tons of options.
The thing to look for is a strong Newman Center at the local parish where the students would attend… which can be found at almost every large state college.
I can easily brag about the University of Florida in Gainesville, because their Catholic Student Center at St. Augustine’s is amazing… but I know I can’t limit it just to UF…
Do some research based on where you live, what your child’s hopes and dreams are for their major, etc… there are lots of options, but your child is going to have to make that choice to attend on their own.

Ditto to what the above poster said about St. Augustine’s parish at the Florida University in Gainesville!

A friend’s daughter goes there and it sounds extraordinary!

I have also heard good things about St. Michael’s parish that is very near Auburn. My grandaughter went there.

From what I have heard about Catholic colleges (the majority of them), a Catholic student is better off at a public university where there is a strong parish nearby to minister to the college youth.

Yes, I have 3 in college, one at an Ivy, one a small Methodist college and one at a Catholic college. All had or have chances to go to mass, although at the small LAC, you had to go to a neighboring college for daily mass next door I think. They all had Catholic groups, that did volunteer work, retreats,etc.
Fr. Groechel once said, some secular colleges are better than some Catholic and the devout students form a tight group.

For us, area of interest, scholarships and “a good fit” entered into our decsions.

Any area you were looking in?

University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana has an awesome Newman Center. Not only that, but they have a dorm that many Catholic students stay in. Two of my children went there Two also went to Butler University. My youngest wanted a parish environment and drove to a parish that was nearby St Monica’s. Now that she moved to another town,she is trying to find a parish that is as good as the one she was in.

As noted, check the information of the Neuman Center affiliated with the colleges you are interested in. Also, check the information for FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). If the campus has a FOCUS chapter, it will have lots of Catholic opportunities.

As a first-hand report, Texas A&M is known as having an extrememly robust Catholic community. At one time, they led the nation in students entering seminary, even beating out some of the big Catholic universities. The children of several of my close friends go there.

I’m in your same situation. My oldest started his campus visits last summer. Maybe we should thnk about a CA Group for parents of soon-to-be college students who want them to stay Catholic. :wink:

I’m taking my own advice. I started a new group - College bound students and parents.

Thanks for these helpful responses, all of which are just what I hoped to find. The idea of forming a group is terrific. I will certainly join in and recommend it to others.

I would echo some of the same comments about looking for campuses with FOCUS missionaries. Texas A&M also has the Apostles of the Interior Life who minister to students through retreats and spiritual direction. I had one of these sisters as a spiritual director for two years and it greatly benefited me.

I have personal experience with the campus center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I would recommend it to anyone. The campus center at the University of Illinois has one of the former priests, and they also have a vibrant Catholic Center.

I really think we as catholic adults need to look at our catholic colleges and where liberalism is taught take them out and let the institution suffer. How can a college say they are catholic and not suscribe to what catholicism is all about!

I go to a university in upper Michigan and we have a pretty big Catholic Campus ministry with a university parish. The students can meet 3 times a week for morning prayer in the dorms, can meet for nightly Rosary. There is Mass Wednesday nights, Friday afternoons, and twice on Sundays. On Fridays after Mass students take turns cooking meals and then guests priests, deacons, or others come to talk about some topic concerning the Catholic faith.

Even in the small area, I know each of the universities has something similar to what there is on my campus. We have retreats each semester with the other Catholic campus ministries in the region.

So I really don’t think it’s just the well-known universities that have good campus ministries and opportunities.

You are all mistaken.

University of Pittsburgh, or Carnegie Mellon University. Their shared Newman Center is the same building as an Oratory of St. Phillip Neri (with a bunch of young, faithful priests), and they have wonderful FOCUS missionaries as well. Not only that, but the cathedral of the Pittsburgh diocese is right around the corner, right on campus. They get a lot of vocations from students involved in the Newman Club too, which sort of testifies to the kind of environment and group it is.

They get together all the time, and there are perhaps five options for daily Mass, and one in the evening is particularly popular among students.

Pittsburgh Oratory Site
St. Paul Cathedral
Newman Club Facebook Page

I go to the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, and I can tell you first hand that the Newman Center is very active and vibrant here on campus. I just finished my freshman year, and I’m more on fire for my faith than ever. I’m not sure where you live, and I know it’s hard for out of state people to get in, but if you live in NC, UNC is definitely a great place for Catholics.

My daughter liked the College of the Holy Cross and they have many active Catholics, wonderful retreats, mass daily, quite a few on Sunday, lots of opportunites to do something or many things.

They have non-Catholics that go to mass also at times which is nice and alhtough some Catholics don’t attend mass, etc. many do and she likes the fact that everyone is respectful and many discussions go on about religion without arguments.

I also love that when I visit, I never open a door, the students are very nice and helpful and they work very hard.

Not in the US, but I feel honour-bound (since I’m currently doing some postgrad work here) to chime in with what an amazing university Oxford is to be Catholic in. In large part because the university has houses of the Jesuits, Cappuchin Franciscans, Dominicans, Benedictines, and Oratorians (whom Newman himself, who of course is from Oxford, established in Britain). The opportunities for the sacraments, adoration, benediction, offices, Catholic social clubs, prayer groups, lecture series, debates, and workshops are abundant and top-quality.

Some notable Catholic almuni include, besides Blessed John Henry Newman, St. Thomas More, St. Edmund Campion, J.R.R. Tolkien, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Cardinal Manning, Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus, William of Occam, and deathbed convert Oscar Wilde.

My daughter’s dream is to study abroad at Oxford, will see, she has good grades but one subject, a hard math, brought her GPA down a bit. A BIG Tolkien fan too.:slight_smile:

Both of my children attend the same smaller Missouri state college where they are active in the Newman Center. What I’ve found in talking to them and our friends with similar aged children is that most college campuses have decent to great Catholic groups - it’s getting your own children to participate that is the challenge. I am blessed that both of ours have used the Newman Center as a focal point of their social lives and both are currently dating people they met there.


I went to a Lutheran college. Funny thing was 53% of the student body identified as Catholic! I recommend checking out all types of universities and asking to speak with a Newman member.

My school had daily Mass and a weekly Sunday Mass in the evenings. Plus there was a Catholic Church across the street if you wanted some flexibility or confession.

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