Tom Hoopes writes in a recent article at Catholic Vote on the benefits students can receive when they attend a Catholic college or university.
Hoopes, writer in residence at Benedictine College, relates in the article how he transferred from a public university to a small Catholic university with a Great Books program. He argues that “…[N]othing can replace the variety of religious experience possible at a Catholic college.”
“Newman Centers are doing brave, important, needed work. They are islands of sanity in stormy seas,” writes Hoopes. “But they are only islands, and not everyone will wash up there.”
I would argue, first, that you don’t want to miss out on the Theology (or Philosophy, History and Literature) at a great Catholic college. Even if you just want to “keep your faith” a solid grounding in Catholic thought is absolutely essential. In the history of the Church, faith revivals have come and gone, but those that rooted themselves in intellectual rigor are still here.
I asked a group of guys who went to state schools what they thought. They had great Newman Centers that served them well — saved them, in a couple of cases. But now they recommend Catholic colleges, too. They listed what you get from a canon-law Catholic college but not from NewmanCenters:
1. Good residence life policies … campuswide.
2. Solid Theology and Philosophy classes … required.
3. Pervasive positive peer pressure.
4. Catholic professors tying a variety of disciplines to the faith (these aren’t guaranteed at a canon-law compliant school but they predominate there more).
They also pointed out what you miss: Student life offices at universities these days are not just secular — they are ideologically driven, intolerant of Christian ideas and aggressive about rooting them out.
In another article for the National Catholic Register, Hoopes wrote, “When a school takes the Church’s directives seriously, the result is impressive. Rather than lose their religion, students rediscover their faith on campus or discover it for the first time. At Benedictine, for instance, the students in the campus’ Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program are in the double digits every year.”
Benedictine College is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.
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