Pleased with our Catholic Universities


I am a public high school teacher in a highly populated Catholic district (roughly 35 to 40% of student body). I have read some not so encouraging feelings about many Catholic colleges and how they are not “Catholic” enough for many people’s tastes. Some call them anti-Catholic. I think this is absurd. I went to Catholic universities and loved them (both undergrad and grad). My faith has grown due to these schools. Just this year, I have had four male students embark on their collegiate journeys to Notre Dame, Boston College, Dayton, and Xavier, and MANY more begin their college lives at Ohio State, Indiana, Penn State, Kentucky, Cincinnati etc… My students who are attending Notre Dame and Boston College are discerning (very seriously by the way) the priesthood. The Notre Dame student is one of the most devout Catholic young men I’ve ever known and is considering the Congregation of the Holy Cross. The BC student is considering Diocesan priesthood. My former student, who now is at Xavier (Cincinnati), was a very lapse Catholic in high school. He now is working toward his minor in Catholic cultural studies. The U. of Dayton student was a very devout and dedicated Catholic as a high schooler. His faith too has grown and he loves his college theology classes because they allow him to “think” and “analyze” the truths of his faith. My students who are at state universities (besides a very select few) only go to Mass when home with their parents. When I ask about their Newman Center they kind of shy away and usually say that they don’t even know where it is. How sad :frowning: (although I’m not saying that these schools aren’t great in their own way…they just don’t carry a Catholic tradition with them).

However, last week, when the BC student stopped into the high school, I asked him if he attends Mass every week. He enthusiastically replied, “of course, there’s a church next door to my dorm!”. I was overjoyed. I have seen very dedicated Catholics venture off to secular schools and become lazy Catholics…still loving the Church but just lazy about Mass and the sacraments. I honestly cannot say this about any of my students attending Catholic colleges. They all seem to take part in liturgies on campus…the four students that I mentioned are just a select group. We’ve had students attend Georgetown, St. Francis (PA), and a few others. I even have a Jewish student who is now a junior at the University of Dayton attend the university’s Ash Wednesday Mass because she was so interested in the tradition. She also mentioned to me that she, every now and then, stops into their chapel because it is so “peaceful”.

I am letting the public know that these Catholic universities (which are unrightfully slandered by many) are doing wonderful things, and although they may not be perfect (what academic institution is by the way?:shrug: ), they are producing MUCH more good than bad. I am proud of these schools. Not only are they showing my former students the way, the truth, and the light, their academics are also second to none!


Thank you for this. I am sure that good, strong Catholics can thrive in any atmosphere. What concerns me more as a parent are Catholic schools that ignore Canon Law and allow vocal dissidents to teach theology – or even lead theology departments.

I am also concerned about the way temptations against purity can thrive in atmospheres tolerant of excessive alcohol consumption and night-time dorm visitation by those of the opposite sex.

I am also sure that the larger Catholic schools have excellent programs critics such as myself tend to overlook. Notre Dame, for example, has one of the best architecture programs around and my son is considering it. His older sister is at one of the smaller conservative Catholic colleges.


Notre Dame here in Australia is quite small but very strong; I know two people who work with me at a Law firm who have degrees in Law from there (I am considering studying Law there myself, along with Philosophy). Philosophy and theology are also quite strong there as well.

So long as I was not required to sign some sort of oath which required me to stop thinking and questioning (an anathema to me) I would be happy to study at any Catholic college.


From Canon Law:

Can. 810 §1. The authority competent according to the statutes has the duty to make provision so that teachers are appointed in Catholic universities who besides their scientific and pedagogical qualifications are outstanding in integrity of doctrine and probity of life and that they are removed from their function when they lack these requirements; the manner of proceeding defined in the statutes is to be observed.

§2. The conferences of bishops and diocesan bishops concerned have the duty and right of being watchful so that the principles of Catholic doctrine are observed faithfully in these same universities.


There are some good Catholic universities out there. All the same there are some that are not so good. About five years ago a dozen Catholic universities made an internal study about what happened to their own students by the time they graduated, comparing the attitudes of their students when they began attending as freshmen and the time that the graduated. The results found their way into “Catholic World Report” and elsewhere. A substantially higher proportion of their students believed in abortion and gay marriage, and in fact a higher proportion of them believed that one night stands were perfectly all-right by the time they graduated from the time they began at these schools. This language and these results are from their own study of themselves. That is, the students changed in these ways while they were there at their Catholic schools. This same study examined what happened to students in four years at siome non-denominational colleges, and such a decline in the students’ morality did not occur at these other schools, so what happened to the the students at these Catholic colleges was not simply a case of the troubled passage in general of young people during these years…
Not that there are not some good schools out there. But parents should carefully check up on the Catholic college that they are considering before sending their children there. The fact that it was fine when someone in their family attended thirty or forty years ago doesn’t mean it is the same now, in our age of secularization.


Yes, the U of Notre Dame does have one of the nation’s best architecture programs. I’ve heard raving reviews. It’s still a “classical” program and students study in Rome for 1 year. They also have professors from ND (at least I’ve recently heard) that are aggressively working to restore and preserve the beautiful architecture of the Catholic Church for newly constructed Churches.

The university as a whole is much more orthodox than many give it credit for being. I really don’t think BC is too far behind. As mentioned, my students from BC are very devout.

As far as studies and statistics are concerned (someone posted results from a study of Catholic college students), take them like a grain of salt. The samples taken could have been very easily skewed. I have full faith in the larger Catholic universities as well (although Notre Dame, Xavier, and Dayton are really not that large…most actually are quite small; at or below 10,000).


As a student at Notre Dame, I am often disturbed to hear “armchair popes” rant about the orthodoxy (or lack thereof) at ND and other Catholic universities, and others quoting Canons or otherwise implying that we as a campus are in some kind of open rebellion to the bishops. Often they have either never studied here, or they did so prior to the mid/late 90’s when ND was a very different place.

Make no mistake – I am the editor of the Catholic/conservative paper here, so I am not an “apologist”, merely one who has some perspective on this issue and wishes that others would get some as well. I am not going to go through the whole litany, but here are a few of the things that the armchair popes out there tend to overlook–

-Mass attendance all around is quite high. Residence hall chapels (there is one in every dorm, and several others in classroom buildings around campus) are filled to capacity on Sundays, many people attend daily Mass, and altogether there are over 200 Masses/week celebrated on campus (not including the private ones inaccessible to students).

-Now in its third year, the annual Eucharistic Procession held on campus continues to grow. It started out as a “grassroots” movement by students but now it has been co-opted by the administration and attracts a great number of students, visitors, and religious. Pictures are on the internet if you know where to look.

-While not yet “perpetual”, there is a large group of students who adore the Eucharist about 12hrs/day.

-I have yet to visit the Grotto and find myself alone. Even at 3am, there are usually at least a few students there praying and lighting candles.

-The “tide has turned”, so to speak, in the Theology department. While it is impossible to undo some of the damage right away (tenured professors cannot be thrown out – they have to either die or retire), a great number of the profs have a mandatum from Bishop D’Arcy (no shrinking violet himself), and there is an even greater number of theologically orthodox graduate students and young professors. The chair of the department is a close friend of the bishop, and most of this has come about under his direction.

-I have encountered the notorious Fr. McBrien only once in three years, in a hallway, so his impact on campus is hardly relevant to these discussions (I was once a Theology major, by the way).

-The philosophy department here is the best in the world among Catholic universities. It is rated #1 and #2 in the English speaking world for studying Philosophy of Religion and Metaphysics, respectively. Alasdair MacIntyre, Ralph McInerny (now retired), Peter van Inwagen, and Alfred Freddoso are all well-known Catholic philosophers here. Alvin Plantinga is not Catholic, but is a renowned theist.

-As others have mentioned, the architecture program here is top-notch. Duncan Stroik, one of the profs in that department, has de-wreckovated countless churches across the country. I believe that Archbishop Burke hired him to design the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe that he erected in his old Wisconsin diocese.

I know less about the “situation on the ground” at BC and other colleges, but I suspect things are closer to what the poster at the top was saying than is generally granted in these discussions. Of course, Notre Dame has some progress yet to make, but please don’t rant about it on these forums (not just here, I have seen it in other threads) unless you have a genuine complaint about something that you have firsthand knowledge of.

In Notre Dame,



Perhaps things are improving, but certainly we ought not be Pollyanna about it all.

Catholic Commencement Scandals Declining


That is good to hear that Notre Dame is advancing in that ways. There seem to have always been good things about it.
I work at a Catholic University, which I will not name, where most of the students never go to Church, dissent is general in the theology department some of whom are not Catholic), and in fact Catholicism lacks any relevance to the operations of the school. No wonder since now most professors are not Catholic. So I would hope that the parents here will be careful where they send their children to school.


There is a difference between being “Pollyanna”, which I certainly am not, and offering a firsthand perspective that most people who comment on this issue lack.

I do think that the Cardinal Newman Society does some great work, and their association with Fr. Benedict Groeschel is nothing to scoff at. I have had a cordial relationship with them in the past, to be sure.


I do not want to argue with you, but one does not need to be a student at any particular university to grasp there are significant problems with Catholic colleges. Look at just two recent examples. One at Georgetown when Cardinal Arinze spoke and very recently at DePaul with all the homosexual issues.

And what about the lack of signers of the mandatum at most schools?


I don’t know about the situation at other Catholic colleges and universities, but I know at mine it’s not nearly as bad as some people (including some students) would like to say. There is a fairly large number of us who are orthodox in our beliefs. All weekend Masses are full, we have a group that says the Rosary every night, we have a Christian Life group consisting of students who are very orthodox, and we have a large number of classes taught by priests and sisters. I’ve been very pleased with my education here, and I do think that most strong Catholics would be able to have a good experience here. For whatever it’s worth, I always heard that Notre Dame was a pretty orthodox Catholic school…


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