Notre Dame's in Jeopardy

A freshman from Notre Dame won on Jeopardy tonight, so she must be pretty bright. However, it was more than a little disturbing to watch her miss the big question in the “I’m A Believer” category:

“This religion’s name comes from the greek root meaning ‘universal.’”

Her response: “What is Unitarian?”

A second competitor guessed “What is Episcopalian?” and the third guy did not attempt to answer.

Very sad to see a Notre Dame student smart enough to win on Jeopardy, but not knowing the meaning of the word “catholic.”

Yikes! That is scary - but I have heard that ND is not a great example of people practicing the catholic faith.

You’ve heard very wrong. I’m a Domer and I know and love my Catholic Faith. Most do!!! The Jeopardy guy must have been an anomaly. I didn’t see the show, but if it’s true he probably looked pretty stupid! :slight_smile:

God Bless

Hi Domer - I am just going by what I have read here on CAF, whenever there is a list compiled of good (orthodox) catholic colleges, ND is usually not in the mix. I am sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you or the student body, I was just going on what I have read here. I guess one can’t believe everthing that is read!

This is both suerprsing and sad. It is surprising that such a easy question was the Final Jeopardy question. The sad part is that it obviously was a good question considering no one got it right.

Do you know if the student is Catholic? She may be attending Notre Dame but is not a Catholic. I do not know what the university’s requirements are regarding religion classes, or if any are required. Somebody who is non-Catholic is allowed to attend the university though.

While Notre Dame may not have the level of intentional, committed Catholics of a place like Stubenville, it is still determined to be identifiably “Catholic”. As opposed to many top universities e.g. Harvard, Duke, Northwestern, etc that started out as religious but have long since dropped any formal affiliation. And there’s not a requirement that you be Catholic to be a student - remember Raghib Ishmael? Many students choose to go there because they will get a good education with a good name behind it. By academic reputation, it is one of the top private universities in the Midwest, religious or not.

They also don’t require the faculty members to be Catholic. At least in “non-religious” fields like sciences and engineering, they want top scholars, who at the very least are not antagonistic to the notion of a Catholic university. If they put a requirement on all of their faculty to be practicing Catholics, they would eliminate 90% of the top talent from consideration. This is actually a big problem for them I think. At the elite levels of some academic fields, just the very notion of any sort of religious university, let alone a “Catholic” one, turns people off. Even among the very bright, there is sometimes a kneejerk reaction that “Catholic” = repressive, unenlightened, etc. So a school like Notre Dame that wants to be considered “elite” is automatically cut off from competing for good faculty members who would happily consider a secular private or public university. And as it is, the location (cold winters, not on the East or West coast) drives away at least some fraction of the faculty talent pool anyway. What this means for the leadership of the university is that there is a tension between remaining proudly “Catholic”, and keeping their top-tier ranking.

As for actually being Catholic… on my one visit there, I was impressed with the number of people that showed up for daily mass at the basilica. And the mass was done in a revererent manner, without silliness that you sometimes see in university chapels. I also know multiple graduates of ND, who came out all over the board, from being faithful practicing Catholics to wanting nothing to do with the church. But in that sense, you get out of it what you put into it I suppose.

How many showed up for penance?

I arrived late. I don’t know. Confessions appeared to be scheduled for multiple times each day. How often students take advantage of that great opportunity, it’s hard to know from my short visit. I can only say the sacrament is more readily available at Notre Dame than at the student parishes at my undergraduate institution (by appointment only) or my graduate institution (twice a week or by appointment).

As a student at Notre Dame and frequenter of the Sacrament, I must say that, there being offered 2 or three times a day the Sacrament of Confession, many kids take the opportunity.

I understand why very conservative Catholics are concerned about Notre Dame, but I confess that this attitude annoys me. ND is a marvellous example of a university that manages to be very diverse and academically respectable while still maintaining a strong religious identity. It’s a model to Protestants who are currently trying to create similar institutions.

And I have heard one liberal Catholic academic complain (in front of largely non-Christian academics) that ND was about to cease being a serious university because it was moving toward a clearer affirmation of its Catholic identity (this was five or six years ago).

I think people need to give ND a break. It’s doing a difficult balancing act, and if it stopped balancing by tilting in the direction you guys would like (i.e., if it became more like Steubenville or Christendom or Ave Maria) both Catholicism and the academic world would lose something very special.


Well the young lady from Notre Dame made it to the finals but didn’t win. Young man from Stanford won. The outcome would be different in football.

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