Tuesday, February 09, 2016

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Commentary
Faithful Catholic Education Offers Understanding of True Freedom, Says Archbishop Lucas
1/26/2016
Catholic education prepares students to live a life of faith, but also offers students a true understanding of God-given freedom in an environment in which they can grow in virtue, said Archbishop George Lucas of the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb., in a video released last week.

“God has given us the gift of free will and it is God’s design for us that we be free, that we just not be all over the place, but that we really use our freedom to choose what’s right and good for ourselves and for others,” Archbishop Lucas said. “As I reflect back on my own education in Catholic schools, I really am grateful for that cultivation of an understanding of what it really means to be free.”


Catholic Education Before the Texas Bar
1/20/2016
In the fall of 2015, the Catholic Lawyers Guild and the Christian Legal Society of San Antonio, Texas, persuaded St. Mary’s University School of Law to conduct the first-ever Christian Legal Perspectives seminar for attorneys in the San Antonio area. Our goal was modest and seemingly noncontroversial: to reinforce the need to consider the moral and religious implications inherent in their legal practices in the 30 or so Texas attorneys who might attend (I also invited the 50 law students in my Catholic Legal Perspectives class).

For example, we thought it important to remind attorneys who are asked to handle divorce cases that our religious view of the sanctity of marriage might result in attorneys referring potential divorce clients to faith-based counseling that might preserve the marriage. We hoped to reach a modest audience on a one-time basis on a Friday afternoon in October. God, however, apparently had broader plans.


Opinion: Major Issues We’re Following in Catholic Education in 2016
1/4/2016
The Cardinal Newman Society’s reporting in 2015 highlighted numerous issues — positive and negative — impacting faithful Catholic education in the U.S., and we expect many of these issues to continue trending into 2016.

In the past year, Newman Society reporters covered cultural and institutional threats to faithful Catholic education, including the U.S. Supreme Court marriage ruling, problems with Common Core, Planned Parenthood’s close ties to Catholic colleges, ongoing HHS mandate lawsuits threatening religious freedom and scandalous commencement speakers at Catholic colleges. Yet, many faithful Catholic colleges and schools have responded with vigor to the current challenges and demands of our modern society.

Below, in no particular order, are 10 important issues that we will be following in our news coverage throughout 2016:


Newman Society’s Top 15 Articles of 2015: Scandal, Same-Sex Marriage and Fighting for Faithfulness
12/30/2015
The close of each year brings any number of “top” or “best of” lists recognizing achievements of the past 12 months in a myriad of industries and categories. As we look forward to beginning a new year, it’s only natural to reflect on what transpired in the last.

Below, The Cardinal Newman Society presents its top 15 news and commentary articles from 2015 based on the number of unique page views. Each article in the list is followed by a short summary.

The Newman Society published hundreds of articles this year on many extremely important issues impacting the Catholic identity of schools and colleges, affecting Catholic students, families and educators across the country — as well as our country’s culture. We look forward to producing even more articles in 2016 to promote and defend faithful Catholic education.


Theology Professors ‘Dispel Ignorance’ as Spiritual Work of Mercy
12/21/2015
The call to “instruct the ignorant” as a Spiritual Work of Mercy is carried out by Catholic educators as part of the Church’s mission, and reflecting on that work during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Catholic University of America theology professor Dr. John Grabowksi told The Cardinal Newman Society that theology professors have a responsibility to dispel ignorance and the lack of knowledge of Christ by introducing students to Him in the Scriptures, sacraments, liturgy and tradition of the Church.

In the Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis lamented, “Perhaps we have long since forgotten how to show and live the way of mercy.” And as part of its celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the U.S. bishops have invited the faithful to learn more about and live out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, one of which is “Instructing the Ignorant.”

Education, or to “instruct the ignorant,” is a work of mercy because it responds to a drive and a need that is part of our very makeup as human beings, Grabowski told the Newman Society. “We want to know. We want to pursue truth, especially the truth about God.”


Further Reflections on ‘No Child Left Behind’ Replacement
12/18/2015
Last Friday, The Cardinal Newman Society reported on a short, two-minute interview given to EWTN Nightly News the previous day with positive reactions to certain provisions of the federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law by President Obama last Thursday. The law replaced the deeply problematic No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 which brought about lasting damage to American education by, among other things, increasing federal intrusion into public schools, emphasizing harmful high-stakes testing using unrealistic metrics and laying the ground for the flawed Common Core experiment with national standards.

As promoters of the value of a liberal arts education, we question the value and wisdom of excessive high-stakes testing. The number of mandated tests students have to take will shift from federal jurisdiction to state control under ESSA, with students still being required to take reading and math exams in grades three to eight, and one mandated test while in high school.


The Incredible Shrinking Case for Common Core
12/17/2015
Recent statements by Common Core co-author David Coleman about Catholic education have led to a lot of confusion. What’s this about a Common Core advocate urging Catholic educators to have the “moxie” to preserve their incredible heritage and not to worry about changes to standardized tests? 

I’ll try to explain. Despite Coleman’s support for the Common Core — which I firmly believe to be inadequate and even harmful to Catholic schools — what he said is good for Catholic families. 

Last month, my colleagues and I were dismayed to learn that Coleman, a chief author of the Common Core State Standards, will keynote the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) convention in March. The Cardinal Newman Society has raised serious concerns about the Common Core’s impact on Catholic identity and related changes that detract from Catholic schools’ time-proven curricula and methods. The choice of Coleman as keynote speaker suggests support for the Common Core, when what we most need is a frank conversation among Catholic educators and parents about the Common Core and its unsuitability to Catholic education. 


Editorial: Catholic Schools Should Proudly Keep ‘Catholic’ as Their Core
12/14/2015
Common Core co-developer David Coleman believes that Catholic schools should have the “moxie” to preserve and celebrate their Catholic identity and emphasis on the liberal arts — and The Cardinal Newman Society wholeheartedly agrees, despite our clear disagreement about whether the Common Core fits well within that Catholic education.

The Cardinal Newman Society continues to have serious concerns about the Common Core’s impact in Catholic schools. For that reason, Coleman may seem an unusual choice for a Newman Society interview. We certainly haven’t changed our position.


Reflections on Interview with David Coleman, College Board President and Common Core Architect
12/14/2015
Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in The Cardinal Newman Society’s exclusive interview with David Coleman, president of The College Board (a testing company which provides the SAT and AP exams) and one of the developers of the Common Core Standards. As a critic of certain aspects of the Common Core and its influence in Catholic schools, it was an opportunity to learn about Mr. Coleman’s educational philosophy, his support for Catholic liberal arts education and his clear and emphatic statement that, “A child excellently trained in the traditional liberal arts will do superbly on relevant sections of the SAT and other aspects of Advanced Placement work — rest assured.”

This was indeed a welcome statement. Since the introduction of the Common Core in public schools in 2010, many Catholic school leaders have been sounding the alarm that if Catholic schools did not immediately embrace the college- and career-based Common Core standards, our students would somehow be left at a disadvantage.


Conference Teaches Students to Defend ‘Conservative Ideas’ on Catholic Campuses
12/9/2015
One of the most important ways of protecting the Catholic identity of Catholic colleges and schools is to equip students with the knowledge and tactics to counter opposition to their beliefs during their time on campus, conservative leaders who spoke at a program on faith and freedom told The Cardinal Newman Society in recent interviews.

“Students have a vital role to play in helping to change their campuses towards a more authentic Catholic identity,” Nicholas Hahn, editor of RealClearReligion and one of the speakers at the event, “Stand Up for Faith & Freedom: How to advance conservative ideas at Catholic schools,” told the Newman Society.

The two-day seminar, organized by Young America's Foundation (YAF), a “principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement,” was conceived as a counter to the “Leftists on campus” who believe “being a faithful Catholic means adopting the Left’s ideology,” according to the program description.


Did Pope Francis Say ‘Don’t Proselytize’?
11/25/2015
Catholic education, done rightly, is a special and important means of evangelization, the mission of the Church. It brings young people to Christ and provides for the integral formation of mind, body and soul. 

And so, judging from the reaction that I have been hearing from some parents and educators, there is a bit of consternation over Pope Francis’ strong words last week against “proselytism” in Catholic schools. My colleagues from The Cardinal Newman Society who were present for the Holy Father’s conversation with educators — part of the World Congress on Education, a Vatican conference to address the “educational emergency” that leaves young people ignorant of Christ — also noted the Holy Father’s words with some concern.


Newman Society’s Guernsey Reflects on World Congress with Educators, Pope Francis
11/25/2015
After a week in Rome with more than 2,000 educators from Catholic schools and universities around the world, it is time to remind ourselves of the continued need for faithful Catholic education, and that its efforts will only be successful if they are rooted in the truth and tradition of the Church, said Dr. Dan Guernsey, director of K-12 education programs for The Cardinal Newman Society.

While the recent Congress, “Educating for Today and Tomorrow: A Renewing Passion,” hosted by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education was a rich, multi-cultural experience, it left certain issues untouched and in need of further clarification.

In his recent piece “Challenges and Ambiguities at the World Congress on Education” for Crisis Magazine, Guernsey reflected on his time at the Vatican and Castel Gandolfo, which he described as “an amazing and rich experience.”


Universities Will Find Success in Faithful Teacher Formation, Curriculum, Says Congress Presenter
11/24/2015
Teacher formation and a strong, value-oriented curriculum are critical to the success of good Catholic universities, especially in a culture that can be exceedingly motivated by self-interest, Dr. Alfonso Sánchez-Tabernero, rector of the University of Navarra in Spain, told The Cardinal Newman Society in an interview conducted during the recent World Congress, “Educating Today and Tomorrow: A Renewing Passion,” in Rome.

“In a Catholic university we are supposed to be also good Catholic professors, so why not emphasize the need to explain, to know and to live his or her faith,” Sánchez-Tabernero told the Newman Society.

As one of the presenters during the University sessions of the World Congress hosted by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education last week, Sánchez-Tabernero spoke on the need to train faculty and offer continued faith formation as professors rise through the ranks of a university.


Newman Society Reports From Rome: Analysis of Education Congress Working Document
11/19/2015
The document, which remains to be discussed this week, is not without some potential problems. We’ll see how these develop over the next couple of days.

Among the challenges of the document are that there are no references to Scripture, and that it does not seem to have the same amount of footnoting or references to Christ as previous documents.

About 10,000 words, this document is the same size as the Vatican’s earlier document in 1977, The Catholic School. In that document there were 48 references and approximately 35 references to Christ or Jesus. In this current document as it is right now, we only have eight references and about five references specifically to Jesus.


At World Congress in Rome, Newman Society Raises Common Core Concerns
11/19/2015
When it comes to the “educational emergency” developing in the United States, it is essential that Catholic schools maintain a strong Catholic identity in “an era of nationalized curriculum” and relativism, Dr. Dan Guernsey, director of K-12 education programs for The Cardinal Newman Society, said in an interview from Rome where he is attending the Vatican’s World Congress on education.

“Education is not just about skill development and it's not just about the quantification of abilities to make a buck. It really is about creating fully alive and fully functioning people,” Guernsey told Rome Reports, noting the insufficiency of a nationalized curriculum and standards for Catholic schools.

“The Common Core is this new set of state standards that's gone in throughout the United States. And they're very secularized, very utilitarian, very much based on college and career,” he said.


Vatican Envoy to Jesuits and Bishops: Reform Education
11/19/2015
The Vatican ambassador’s message, delivered during Monday’s gathering of U.S. bishops in Baltimore, was crystal clear: place priority on the renewal of Catholic identity in Catholic education and restore the great legacy of Jesuit institutions.

It’s an appeal that should make every Catholic parent stand up and cheer! It certainly got our attention at The Cardinal Newman Society, where for 22 years we have urged greater support for faithful Catholic education and the end to scandal and dissent at many Catholic colleges.

When Pope Francis was elected, I openly wondered whether our Jesuit pope would acknowledge the elephant in the room: the open disregard for papal authority and doctrinal fidelity at many of America’s Jesuit colleges.


CUA President: Pray for Religious Freedom, “Only So Much Lawyers Can Do”
11/6/2015
As a potential U.S. Supreme Court decision approaches on the Obama administration’s HHS contraception mandate impacting the religious freedom of Catholic colleges and The Cardinal Newman Society, the true future of religious freedom in the United States is in the hands of families and educators who take their faith seriously and pray, Catholic University of America President John Garvey told The Cardinal Newman Society in an interview.

“The future of religious liberty is in our own hands, and it’s going to survive or not depending on whether we think religion itself is important,” Garvey said. “There’s only so much that lawyers and academics can do to change the picture about religious freedom that we have in America.”

While lawyers are still important, the key to a successful defense of religious freedom will be found in those families and educators who make their faith important, stand up for their religious beliefs, understand the importance of faithful education and pray, Garvey stated.


Fire Theologians, Not Columnists
11/4/2015
There is more than irony in the recent attempt by several theologians to discredit New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, because he dared to write about the tragic confusion surrounding the Synod on the Family without having a theologian’s “professional qualifications.”

There is great desperation in the move — and hypocrisy.

The hypocrisy lies in the demand for credentials, when the field of theology is itself seriously lacking in that regard.

About half of Douthat’s critics are professors of theology at Catholic colleges and universities. Under canon law, they must have the mandatum, a recognition from their local bishop that they pledge to teach in fidelity to Catholic doctrine. But do they? At least a few seem to be headed in the opposite direction.



Catholic Education’s Challenge, 50 Years after Vatican II
11/3/2015
Later this month, educational leaders from around the world, including representatives from The Cardinal Newman Society, will gather in Rome to mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis, and to reflect on the future of Catholic education. The Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education has released an instrumentum laboris entitled Educating Today and Tomorrow: A Renewing Passion to help guide the presentations and discussions. Cardinal Newman Society participants will be reporting and reflecting upon the events from Rome.

At this moment it is good to reflect briefly on the seminal document Gravissimum Educationis, promulgated in 1965. The declaration covers a variety of topics including the importance of education generally for all men, the importance of schools, access to schools, the primary role of parents in education, moral education, types of Catholic schools, the importance of teachers and the need to coordinate educational efforts.


To the Critics of Douthat: Yes, We Want (Your) Credentials
10/30/2015
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat is a faithful Catholic who often writes about the Church. His latest column regarding the controversial Synod on the Family in Rome, “The Plot to Change Catholicism,” was strongly criticized in a letter to the editor by more than 50 signers, many of them theologians from Catholic colleges and universities.

But rather than answer or challenge Douthat’s observations, the signers pouted that “Mr. Douthat has no professional qualifications for writing on the subject.” In other words, only elite intellectuals in the ivory tower are allowed to comment on the Church.  In other words, only elite intellectuals in the ivory tower are allowed to comment on the Church. 

It is a rich irony that most theologians at Catholic colleges refuse to tell students and parents whether they have obtained the mandatum.


Cardinal Burke Urges Genuine Catholic Education to Renew Culture
10/29/2015
Cardinal Raymond Burke last week gave us yet another trove of wisdom to contemplate, just as the Synod on the Family came to a close. This time, it was about Catholic education, and it came with a stern warning. 

In prepared remarks last week given to representatives of Voice of the Family, Cardinal Raymond Burke, patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, warned parents about the threats to their children from wayward Catholic schools while arguing that faithful Catholic education at home and in schools is needed to transform the culture.


Catholic Education Offers Key Solution to Secularism, Newman Society President Says
10/23/2015
Catholic education must be embraced as a key solution to, not just a victim of, threats to religious freedom and an increasingly secular culture, argued The Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly in a lecture and panel discussion at Franciscan University of Steubenville last Friday.

“At a time when the New Evangelization is focused on casting its nets wide but shallow, we should also consider the depth of the integral formation that Catholic education provides, ensuring a deep commitment to the Faith and the more complete preparation of our young people for sainthood in a difficult and often hostile culture,” Reilly told an audience of faculty, students and guests at the Steubenville, Ohio, campus.

A panel of Franciscan University leaders responded to Reilly’s address, identifying the many ways that the University embraces its Catholic mission. Educators discussed their commitment to exploring new ways of impacting the culture and ensuring a new generation of Catholic leaders to confront the challenges of secularism. The panel speakers included University President Father Sean Sheridan, TOR; Dr. Daniel Kempton, vice president for academic affairs; and David Schmiesing, vice president of student life.


Catholic Education: Antidote to ‘Ideological Colonization’ in America
10/22/2015
In a recent essay for First Things, we encouraged the Synod of Bishops to promote Catholic education as both an evangelistic opportunity and a cultural antidote to ideological colonization.

Here we encourage all Catholics to support the education of the next generation of Catholics, as a communal responsibility, particularly in light of the challenges of ideological colonization.

Faithful, well-formed Catholics are essential to the Church’s evangelizing mission. And Catholic education offers an unparalleled opportunity to evangelize (and catechize) the next generation — a generation increasingly disconnected from God and religious practice, and vulnerable to harmful ideologies.


Archbishop Miller: Strong Catholic Families Make Strong Catholic Schools
10/16/2015
Stronger families make for stronger Catholic education—this means that the Church’s continued emphasis on the family cannot be separated from faithful Catholic education, according to Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller, C.S.B.

In an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society, Archbishop Miller, who served as secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education from 2003 to 2007, reflected on the relationship between family and education, as well as the Church’s emphasis on family leading to the World Meeting of Families and the current Synod on the Family.

“Stronger families make for better Catholic education. Weaker families weaken the fabric,” said Archbishop Miller. “It’s crazy for us to expect great Catholic education when our family system is weak. They work in direct proportionality, not inverse. So the stronger the family, the stronger the school, the weaker the family, almost inevitably the weaker the school.”


White House Shouldn’t Interfere with Catholic Education, Says Catholic Schools Expert
10/7/2015
Catholics must continue to push for the religious freedom needed to carry out the mission and purpose of Catholic education, despite White House attempts to interfere with Catholic schools, argued Dr. Jamie Arthur, senior fellow and manager of The Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll, in a Breitbart op-ed yesterday.

“Catholics who value the mission of Catholic education will continue to demand religious freedom so that we can live out our faith—without intimidation or any type of persecution—for generations to come,” Arthur wrote.

Last month, the Newman Society reported that the White House assisted the Human Rights Campaign—which claims to be the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization—in obtaining tickets for fired Catholic school teacher Margie Winters and her same-sex partner Andrea Vettori to attend Pope Francis’ visit to the White House. 


Catholic Colleges Ideal Fit for ‘New Evangelization,’ Scholars Agree
9/24/2015
There is no better place for the mission of the Catholic Church to flourish than in faithful Catholic colleges, according to scholars presenting at The Fidelity and Freedom Symposium at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio.

Franciscan University hosted the symposium over the weekend to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ex corde Ecclesiae, the Church’s constitution on higher education issued by Saint John Paul II in 1990. Speakers included Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, University president Father Sean Sheridan, TOR, and theologian Dr. Scott Hahn, who all agreed that faithful Catholic colleges are a vital and fitting place for the mission of the Church and the New Evangelization.

“I would propose that there is perhaps no other institution within the Church as perfectly suited to advance the Church’s mission of the New Evangelization as a Catholic university,” said Dr. Hahn, the Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Professor of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at Franciscan University. A Catholic education “is not just to get a major, and then a diploma and then a job. It’s to develop nothing less than a Catholic worldview.”


Faithfulness of Catholic Colleges Should Be Defining Difference, Says Franciscan University President
9/22/2015
Catholic colleges will prove their faithfulness and strong Catholic identity by embracing what the Church has asked of them, according to Father Sean Sheridan, TOR, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. Yet other Catholic colleges are floundering in their Catholic identity largely due to their failure to recognize the gift and wisdom of Ex corde Ecclesiae, the Church’s constitution on Catholic higher education.

Franciscan University hosted a symposium over the weekend to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ex corde Ecclesiae, issued by Saint John Paul II in 1990. Fr. Sheridan’s presentation, titled “Embracing the Gift of Ex corde Ecclesiae to Challenge the Culture,” discussed the document as a “roadmap” that should be embraced by all Catholic colleges as evidence of their faithfulness and proud Catholic identity.

“We as a Catholic institution are supposed to be different than the secular institution down the road. We are supposed to be known for who we are, our identity as Catholic, as faithful in the way in which we present the academic endeavors in which we engage,” Fr. Sheridan said. “Catholic ideals ought to permeate all activities of a Catholic university.”


Why Do Colleges Require the Oath of Fidelity?
9/22/2015
At the beginning of a new school year, professors at some of America’s most faithfully Catholic colleges take the Vatican’s Oath of Fidelity to protect against scandal and fortify the colleges’ Catholic identity. It stands in stark contrast to the infidelity and confusion emanating from some other Catholic campuses.

Some colleges—like Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., and Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyo.—ask all faculty members to take the Oath. At least another 14 Catholic colleges require the Oath from their theology professors, and The Catholic University of America (CUA) requires theology professors to have the “canonical mission,” which is necessary for granting pontifical degrees.

But still, among nearly 200 Catholic colleges in the United States, 17 is a minority.  What inspires these uncommon colleges to require the Oath, and are there any real benefits?

“Theology faculty are asked to the take the Oath of Fidelity, so that they become mindful of the fact that they are witnessing, studying, teaching and handing down truth of which they are not the author,” said Dr. Mark Zia, associate professor of theology at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. “Jesus Christ forever remains the Teacher, and both professor and students are his pupils as they respectfully probe the mysteries of salvation.”


Catholic Scholar Weigel Calls for Repairs to ‘Deficit’ in Catholic Higher Education
9/17/2015
The modern Catholic college exists to form and equip students to be missionary disciples and therefore can no longer ignore its responsibility to care for the moral and spiritual well-being of students, according to acclaimed author and theologian George Weigel.

Weigel, author of the Saint John Paul II biography Witness to Hope and distinguished senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., gave this year’s opening lecture at Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., during which he addressed the responsibility that Catholic colleges have to faithfully fulfill their mission and purpose.

“The Catholic college and university of the 21st century and the third millennium exists to equip disciples for mission. It exists to deepen the human and intellectual formation of witnesses to Christ,” Weigel told The Cardinal Newman Society in a separate interview. Catholic higher education must be world-transforming, he said.


Spiritual Formation Needed at Catholic Colleges, Says World Meeting of Families Speaker
9/16/2015
Catholic colleges need to reconnect with the spiritual and moral roots that once made their education so unique, said Father Dempsey Rosales Acosta in an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society leading up to his presentation at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

Fr. Dempsey, who is an assistant professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, will present on the topic “Lectio Divina: Praying with Scripture to Connect with the Living God.” His talk will focus on the essential need for prayer within family life—but prayer and a vibrant spiritual life are also needed in higher education, and the World Meeting will be a prime opportunity to remind both families and colleges of this great need, he said.

“To conceive of prayer as an element disconnected or outside of Catholic education at any level would be a grievous mistake. The living connection with God through prayer is what actually gives us the proper reason for everything that we learn and do,” said Fr. Dempsey.


Dominican Sisters Credit Newman Guide Colleges in Preparing for Religious Vocations
9/11/2015
In Nashville, Tenn., you can hear more than country music—you can hear appreciation for faithful Catholic colleges emanating from the convent of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, who responded to an exclusive Cardinal Newman Society interview published yesterday at Aleteia.

Several of the sisters credited Newman Guide-recommended colleges for helping lead them to their religious vocations, according to the article by the Newman Society’s Kimberly Scharfenberger, titled “From Campus to Convent, Sisters Grateful for Catholic Education.”

The Sisters of St. Cecilia is a Dominican teaching order based in Nashville. The sisters shared how Catholic education played a vital role in leading them to religious life. In particular, they were impacted by the unique opportunities only a Catholic college could provide: a strong foundation in theology and philosophy, encouragement in the spiritual life and positive exposure to various religious orders.


Theology Sets Faithful Catholic Colleges Apart from Secular Education, Say Scholars
9/11/2015
Even as students and alumni anxiously await the outcome of the University of Notre Dame’s ten-year curriculum review, amid fears that required theology courses might be reduced, representatives of faithful Catholic colleges in The Newman Guide say that it is theology that sets a Catholic college apart from its secular counterparts.

 “Since theology is the discipline that has been tasked with leading us into greater knowledge and love of God, it would be absurd to omit this most important study in a four-year curriculum at a Catholic institution,” Dr. Mark Zia, associate professor of theology at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., told The Cardinal Newman Society. “A ‘religious studies’ department is not enough; only a theology department will suffice.”

The Church’s constitution on Catholic higher education, Ex corde Ecclesiae, issued by Saint John Paul II in 1990, states that the study of theology “plays a particularly important role” at Catholic colleges and “serves all other disciplines in their search for meaning.” Ex corde Ecclesiae encourages a strong theological curriculum and even requires every Catholic college to “have a faculty, or at least a chair, of theology” in order to help ensure fidelity to Catholic teaching at the college.


Catholic Education Begins with Family, Says World Meeting of Families Speaker
9/10/2015
Catholic families are the first and best educators of their children when it comes to issues of marriage and family, and they have the opportunity to lay a strong Catholic foundation upon which Catholic schools and colleges can build, said Christendom College president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell in an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society in advance of his address to the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

O’Donnell, who was appointed by Saint John Paul II as a consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Family, will speak at the World Meeting on the topic, “Rebuild My Church… and Start from the Foundation: Living as ‘Domestic Church.’” He will focus on the challenges of Christian marriage and family and the central role that the family plays in the evangelization of the modern world.

“Catholic education has to start very early,” said O’Donnell. “It shouldn’t just be at college. It should start in the home through mom and dad.”


Pope Francis Will Find U.S. Catholic Education Struggling, But Many Signs of Hope
9/3/2015
When Pope Francis arrives in the United States on September 22, he will find Catholic education not only in a crisis of truth and faith but also fighting for survival, Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly writes in a special issue from Inside The Vatican commemorating the Holy Father’s upcoming visit.

However, the renewal begun by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, is already taking hold in America and offers a new sense of hope for those who desire authentic and faithful Catholic education, Reilly explains.

In his article, “The ‘Crisis of Truth’ (and the Renewal) in American Catholic Education,” Reilly details the struggles in Catholic schools and colleges and the response needed to restore faithful education.


Catholic Colleges Should Aspire to Faithfulness, Not Prestige, Says Newman Guide Editor
8/27/2015
Catholic colleges need to be concerned with the Church’s standards of excellence rather than the standards of prestige set forth by their secular counterparts, argues The Cardinal Newman Society’s Adam Wilson, director of communications and managing editor of The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.

His comments echo the arguments of George Weigel, distinguished senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and biographer of Saint John Paul II, who recently argued at First Things that the University of Notre Dame and other Catholic colleges need to stop looking to prominent secular colleges in the Ivy League as models of higher education.

“Catholic colleges don’t need to reinvent the wheel or look to the Ivy Leagues as an example of excellence,” argues Wilson. “The Church has already provided fundamental standards to help them fulfill their Catholic mission. Being Catholic is not an obstacle to excellence or prestige; in fact, being faithfully Catholic is precisely why many colleges are exceptional.”


Ex Corde Ecclesiae a Roadmap for Catholic College Renewal, Says Franciscan Univ. President
8/13/2015
If Catholic universities truly wish to change the culture, they must embrace the roadmap laid out for them by Saint John Paul II in Ex corde Ecclesiae, said Franciscan University of Steubenville president Father Sean Sheridan, T.O.R., in an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society.

Franciscan University will host a symposium in September to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ex corde Ecclesiae, the Church’s constitution on Catholic higher education issued by Saint John Paul II in 1990. Fr. Sheridan’s presentation is titled “Embracing the Gift of Ex corde Ecclesiae to Challenge the Culture.”

“If Ex corde Ecclesiae is embraced as a roadmap for guiding Catholic universities for mission, as it was intended to be, the gift of Ex corde to Catholic universities and the Church becomes evident,” Fr. Sheridan told the Newman Society.


Catholic Colleges Must Regain the Art of Temperate Drinking, Says Author
7/30/2015
Catholic colleges need to be mindful of the moral and spiritual state of their students, said Dr. Michael Foley, associate professor of patristics at Baylor University, in an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society.

Foley, who recently authored Drinking with the Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour, noted that the statistics surrounding college drinking are becoming too drastic to ignore and that Catholic colleges must go beyond the public safety approaches of their secular counterparts.

“Catholic institutions are rightly trying to address this problem,” he said. “I do not know what the solution to college drinking is, but I do know that there will be no adequate solution without administrators caring about the moral character and immortal welfare of their students’ souls.”


Faithful Identity Leads to Success for Catholic Schools, Says Newman Society’s Arthur
7/30/2015
The best Catholic schools are those that remain true to their purpose and mission, says The Cardinal Newman Society’s Dr. Jamie Arthur, senior fellow and manager of the Catholic Education Honor Roll. That schools remain steadfast in the faith is increasingly important for parents who desire a genuine Catholic education for their children yet find themselves in a society where religious freedom, traditional marriage and the ability for schools to hire according to their mission are all under attack.

One of the latest developments on this front concerns Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s efforts to shore up the Catholic identity of his schools in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The archbishop has received criticism for adding language in contacts and handbooks which would ensure that teachers cannot publicly oppose Church teaching, but rather assent to authentically hand on the Catholic faith.


Catholic Colleges Must Listen to Pope Benedict’s Strong Case for Sacred Music, Says Prof.
7/21/2015
The availability of well-celebrated liturgy and sacred music should be the norm at all Catholic colleges, not the exception, said Dr. Kurt Poterack, choir director and adjunct professor of music at Christendom College in Front Royal, Va. Poterack spoke with The Cardinal Newman Society regarding Pope Emeritus Benedict’s recent comments on sacred music and what it means for Catholic colleges.

The Pope Emeritus recently received honorary doctorates from the John Paul II Pontifical University of Krakow and from the Academy of Music of Krakow in Poland. The former pontiff took the opportunity to thank the now-saint Pope John Paul II for the profound impact he had in his own spiritual life and also share his own reflections on the benefits of sacred music.

The emphasis on sacred music is certainly something that Catholic colleges should be paying attention to, as it helps students to encounter the living God in liturgy, Poterack stated.


Catholic Education ‘Necessary Response’ to Supreme Court Ruling, Newman Society President Tells EWTN
7/9/2015
Despite serious challenges facing Catholic education in the aftermath of the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly told Jason Calvi of EWTN News Nightly that Catholics must preserve Catholic education.

“The truth is still the truth and we have to keep teaching it,” Reilly stated in the interview that aired Wednesday. “We have to teach a new generation.”

For those disappointed by the recent Supreme Court ruling on marriage, the outlook is not entirely bleak, Reilly explained. “I think things are very hopeful in a certain respect,” he said. “Catholic education in many ways is a necessary response to the Supreme Court ruling.”


CUA President Teaches Catholic Responsibility to Protect Religious Freedom
7/9/2015
Everyone has a role to play in the continued fight to protect religious freedom, says John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C., and author of a new teaching aid for Catholic educators to discuss the crucial issues of our time.

Garvey was invited by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to develop the resource, titled “Religious Liberty and the Practice of Charity,” possibly because he has been so regularly involved in matters of religious freedom during his time at CUA, he said.

The USCCB has promoted the teaching aid in advance of Catechetical Sunday, which will be celebrated on September 20. It is a time when U.S. Catholic churches recognize and commission those in the community who will serve as catechists. According to the USCCB, the day also allows Catholics “to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel.”

“Religious freedom is only important in a country where religion is important,” said Garvey, encouraging Catholics not to shy away from defending and witnessing to their faith and morals. All Catholics—especially those involved in education—must find their role in protecting religious freedom if they truly see their faith as important, he said. “The freedom to do that will be important to us because knowing and loving and serving God is important to us, and it is not the business of the government to interfere with our efforts to do that.”


Pope Francis Says Families Should Beware of ‘Strange Ideas,’ ‘Ideological’ Teaching in Schools
6/17/2015
The forecast in Rome on Sunday called for rain, but the only things descending on the Vatican were crowds of families for the opening of the Ecclesial Congress of the Diocese of Rome, where Pope Francis encouraged parents to remember their essential role as the primary educators of their children, making sure to educate them against the cultural ideas destroying the family.

“Yes, it’s true, there is a rain of families in Saint Peter’s Square,” said Pope Francis as he joyfully greeted the crowds. The Holy Father thanked parents for joining him and for their willingness to be examples of the moral and spiritual life for their children. He stated that the educational task of parents is becoming especially difficult in an increasingly relativistic and secular world.


Catholic Education Must Reach Beyond Intellect to ‘Majesty of God,’ Says Baylor Univ. Professor
6/11/2015
In Catholic education, students should encounter God not just intellectually but in the liturgical and sacramental life on campus, the wisdom of the saints and the Catholic identity of the college itself, said Dr. Michael Foley, associate professor of patristics at Baylor University and a recent panelist during a Cardinal Newman Society panel discussion on Catholic colleges and the sacred liturgy.

During last Tuesday’s session at Sacra Liturgia USA 2015 in New York City, Dr. Foley, alongside featured panelist Cardinal Raymond Burke, discussed why liturgy is essential for today’s college Catholics. The Newman Society caught up with him afterward for an interview.

“The Faith cannot be reduced to an intellectual exercise, nor can it be equated with social activism or philanthropy,” Dr. Foley told the Newman Society. “It is not enough to make certain that our Catholic youth are well catechized, that they know their Catholic dogma on faith and morals, although that is certainly very important. They need an encounter with the Faith that awakens both their mind and heart to the majesty of God and to the truth of things.”


Bishop Conley Attributes Ordinations to Faithful Catholic Education
6/10/2015
Faithful Catholic families and education are responsible for the growing number of vocations in the United States, according to Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb., who recently ordained eight men to the priesthood for his Diocese.

“Today’s ordination is a testament to the Providence of God,” said Bishop Conley in his homily. “It is a testament to families who formed these young men in the faith. It is a testament to our Catholic schools. This is indeed a joyous occasion.”

Bishop Conley is not alone in his admiration for Catholic schools, joining a growing list of bishops who have applauded faithful Catholic education in recent weeks. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul-Minneapolis, Minn.; Bishop David O’Connell of Trenton, N.J.; Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland, Ohio; andBishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Fla., have all shown their support for Catholic education—an issue of increasing importance, given recent attacks against Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s defense of Catholic school identity in San Francisco.


Q&A: Peter Kwasniewski on Sacraments, Curriculum and Moral Formation at Catholic Colleges
6/9/2015
Faithful Catholic colleges have the responsibility and obligation to care for the spiritual and moral well-being of their students, not just their academic well-being, says Dr. Peter Kwasniewksi, professor of theology and philosophy at Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyo., and one of the recent panelists during a Cardinal Newman Society panel discussion at Sacra Liturgia USA 2015 in New York City.

During last Tuesday’s session, Dr. Kwasniewski was one of the featured panelists, together with Cardinal Raymond Burke, who discussed why liturgy is essential for today’s college Catholics.

The Newman Society caught up with Dr. Kwasniewski following the conference to ask several follow-up questions on the importance of liturgy, sacraments, curriculum and student life issues at Catholic colleges.


Newman Society Panelists Agree, Liturgy Essential to Today’s College Catholics
6/5/2015
Catholic colleges must provide opportunities for students to experience the beautiful and well-celebrated liturgy that they are drawn to, according to a panel of academics at this week’s Sacra Liturgia conference in New York City.

Tuesday’s panel on liturgical renewal in Catholic higher education was hosted by The Cardinal Newman Society and headlined by Cardinal Raymond Burke, patron of the Order of Malta and ecclesiastical advisor to the Newman Society. He was joined by four guest panelists who echoed the Cardinal’s urging for Catholic colleges to expose students to the beauty of properly celebrated liturgy.

The conference brought together over 300 bishops, priests, religious, seminarians, educators, college professors and other lay leaders, and the overarching sentiment was the same: young people desire beauty and truth, and the Church—including Catholic colleges—must not fail provide them with that encounter this time around. The conference was notably populated with many young faces, youth who were brought up through the ranks of faithful Catholic education.


Cardinal Burke: Reverent Liturgy Essential to Catholic College Education
6/2/2015
Properly and beautifully celebrated liturgy is essential to a Catholic college education, said Cardinal Raymond Burke, who headlined today’s Cardinal Newman Society event at Sacra Liturgia USA 2015 in New York City.

“If in Catholic education the ultimate goal is to know Christ as deeply and as profoundly as possible, then it can’t be otherwise,” he said, recalling the wonderful liturgies on Catholic campuses until recent decades. On many Catholic campuses, traditional and reverent liturgy has given way to misguided innovations and musical variations that are thought to appeal to younger audiences.

Cardinal Burke, patron of the Order of Malta and ecclesiastical advisor to the Newman Society, led off a panel discussion on the need for liturgical renewal in Catholic higher education and ways that Catholic colleges can contribute to renewal of the liturgy in parishes and schools. The event was held at St. Catherine of Siena Church in uptown Manhattan as a special part of the Sacra Liturgia conference, which brought hundreds of priests, seminarians and lay people together to celebrate and promote sacred liturgy.

Cardinal Burke encouraged Catholic colleges to expose students to reverent liturgy including the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. “If this is a form of the Roman Rite it should be accessible to the faithful,” he said. 

He recalled his experience when Archbishop of Saint Louis, Mo., where he instructed the seminary to implement courses on the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and begin celebrating it. “And I believe too, at the universities, that there will be a response [to the Extraordinary Form],” he said.


Common Core Turns Five
5/28/2015
G.K. Chesterton once wisely suggested that a child should not be subjected to an educational philosophy younger than he is. Such wisdom would relegate the Common Core to preschool—and a public preschool at that, but certainly not America’s Catholic schools.

In a saner world the Common Core State Standards, which were first unveiled in June 2010, would just be coming out of beta testing in a small-scale study to determine their efficacy. If data proved they were significantly successful, then various states would begin to consider adapting the proven elements into their own standards.

Of course, this is not what actually happened. When the Common Core was first unveiled during the height of the “great recession,” states in pursuit of federal funding quickly signed onto the untested Common Core—for some of them, sight unseen. Forty-six states signed on to the Common Core, with only Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia refusing to jump on the band wagon. Many Catholic dioceses in the Common Core states followed suit, wanting to ensure consistency with state standards and national tests.


Bishop Dewane: Families Have ‘Right to Know’ Which Theology Professors Have Mandatum
5/28/2015
If a Catholic college cannot assure that its theology professors are imparting the truths of the faith, then families should look to more faithful Catholic institutions, suggested Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Fla., in an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society.

Sound theology is the heart of Catholic higher education; it helps students direct their learning, explore the beauty of the faith and better understand their relationship with God and the Church. Therefore the Church provides the academic mandatum, an acknowledgment by the local bishop of a “professor’s commitment and responsibility to teach authentic Catholic doctrine and to refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary to the Church’s magisterium,” according to the U.S. bishops’ guidelines.

Referencing Ex corde Ecclesiae, the Vatican’s constitution on Catholic universities, Bishop Dewane noted that professors who have obtained the mandatum help Catholic colleges fulfill their mission. “It says that Catholicism is present and operative at such institutions. More profoundly, the individual professor evidences that desire to teach in communion, to express what the teachings of the Church are,” he said.


Pope Francis: Parents Should Assert Proper Role as Educators, Not Yield to ‘Experts’
5/21/2015
Pope Francis yesterday made a forceful plea for parents to reassert their role as primary educators of their children, an argument that has great significance for Catholic schools and homeschooling families and puts education in the spotlight as the Church prepares for the World Meeting of Families in September in Philadelphia and the Synod on the Family in October in Rome.

Pope Francis began by expressing his joy at seeing so many families gathered with their children, according to Zenit’s translation of the address. He noted that the “essential characteristic of the family” is its “natural vocation to educate the children so that they grow in responsibility for themselves and for others.” Speaking directly to parents, he encouraged them not to shrink away from this unique and God-given role in education.

“Jesus himself went through family education,” Pope Francis explained. “In this case also, the grace of the life of Christ leads to fulfillment what is inscribed in human nature. How many wonderful examples we have of Christian parents full of human wisdom! They show that a good family education is the spinal cord of humanism.”

Dr. Dan Guernsey, director of K-12 education programs for The Cardinal Newman Society, said that the Holy Father’s recognition of the parents’ special role is important to the Church. “You have to know and love the sheep you shepherd,” Guernsey said. “You have to be with them where they are and lead them to truth in the light of faith. No one knows (or should know) the young sheep better than its mother and father.”


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