Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Catholic Colleges Are Not Options For Most Catholics - Importance of Catholic Campus Ministry

I rather enjoyed Hadley Arkes column at the Catholic Thing today. See Ave Maria University: A Challenge Among Friends

It is is engaging on several levels the least not being the hinting at the start up troubles and on the flip side successes of Ave Maria College.

However that is not the main point of his column. There is a sad joke with some reality to it that if you don't want your kid to drop out of Catholicism don't send them to a Catholic College. Where to be fair that is a tad too broad of a statement. However even among the most Orthodox Catholic Colleges they share a similar trait with their slightly less heterodox Catholic brother and sister colleges. That is they are expensive as hell. For example the highly regarded University of Dallas which is one of the closest to me is not exactly cheap.

Hadley talks about the pros and cons of going to a Orthodox Catholic College versus what a friend of his calls the “infiltration,” approach of non Catholic Colleges.

Now I was slightly amused at the schools Hadley are mentioning. Havard, Amherst, Princeton, The University of Chicago etc etc. Not like the average Catholic is going there either. However they do produce the movers and shakers of the world and it is important to have a vibrant Catholic presence there too.

However for the rest of us that go to the state colleges of the world a vibrant Campus ministry for support of students and faculty is of vast importance. The challenges they face are just as daunting as the elite schools.

Pope Benedict , if his health holds out, will no doubt make another trip to the important USA Church. It is thought that Benedict will move out Westward from his prior visit and Texas no doubt would be high on list of possible Papal visits.

If he goes I dream he goes to the State College of Texas A & M while there. They have one of the most successful Campus Ministries that has now been producing staggering vocations to the religious and Clerical life for some time. If it is doing that you can bet that Catholics student that pursue other vocations in life do so with a Catholic character.

Imagine if every State just had one or two places A & M and their Catholic presence. There are other examples but the A & M one comes to mind.

Campus Ministry needs to be highlighted in a huge way. They now have the added job of trying to mitigate the damage of what appears to be a crisis of what is called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism that has infected a great many.

One final thought. I think there needs to be a general push by the United States Catholic Bishops on highlighting Campus Ministry. However I realize that in the end that will have limited results.

However I think that Campus Ministry needs to be much more coordinated at the State level. Funding for Campus ministry seems to vary from Diocese and sometimes funds are tight. I have often thought that a Statewide collection for Campus Ministry that would be well promoted is needed. This would not replace Diocese funding but would be a huge needed supplement.

For instance in my home State of Louisiana the Diocese of Baton Rouge supports the Campus Ministry at Southern and LSU. The fact is that many Catholics from Louisiana go to LSU from outside the Diocese. Heck maybe the majority. The Catholic student numbers at ULM , Louisiana Tech, and Grambling would surprise some people. These are for the most part students from outside the Diocese. Yet The Diocese of Shreveport which is the most cash strapped supports it alone.

Such a collection could be used in strategic way to provide much needed enhancements and outreach. I can tell you that after looking at the General Report from the 2010 Louisiana Baptist Convention Campus Ministry is seen as a very State wide matter. We should follow suit. I don't think Louisiana's situation is much different than other states.

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