Faithful and Catholic: An Education for Life
Editor’s Note: The Cardinal Newman Society recently announced its third annual Essay Scholarship Contest with a $5,000 prize for high school seniors who have signed up for its Recruit Me program. Essays and applications are due by February 18, 2019. Last year, the Contest asked students to reflect on the question, “How will a faithful Catholic college education prepare you for life?” The Newman Society received many impressive responses and will be posting some of the runner-up entries, including the one below by Anna O’Leary of Texas who is currently a freshman studying nursing at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.
With thousands of colleges and universities to choose from in the United States alone, high school seniors are tasked with a daunting challenge: pick just one at which to spend the next four years of your life. As young adults search for their temporary homes, many questions arise. What college has the best degree program? How expensive is tuition? Do I have to live in a dorm with communal bathrooms? While these questions are pressing and seemingly important when searching for a college, one question is often missed: How will this college prepare me for life in contemporary society? Faithful Catholic colleges equip graduates not only with the means to succeed in their chosen career, but also provide a foundation of faith and character that allows young adults to fully live out their vocation.
A Mexican proverb says, “Tell me who you walk with, I’ll tell you who you are.” Choosing the right people to surround oneself with will influence life not only in college, but in the future too. At an authentic Catholic college, the atmosphere is centered around the Church and Her Sacraments, calling the students to live fully in union with Christ through Eucharist, Confession, and Adoration. Attending any college brings peer pressure; however, an authentic Catholic peer pressure is a benefit. With friends who regularly attend Mass and have the same foundation in faith, an individual is presented with opportunities to grow in faith. Whether it is a quick prayer before a test, or visiting the adoration chapel with some friends, Catholic college students begin developing the habits of faithful laypeople. These habits formed in community during the college years will be essential to their lives after graduation, as they continue their journey to sainthood in whatever vocation they discern.
In his encyclical Redemptoris Missio, Pope Saint John Paul II states that all Catholics should live life as missionaries. Whether in another country, in local communities, or in the workplace, all are called to “proclaim the great works of God.” We, the lay faithful, cannot proclaim this divine message without proper formation. Many of the top faithful Catholic colleges require a curriculum of core classes, covering subjects in theology and philosophy. These requirements give students a foundation on which to discover their purpose in life and how they should live morally and ethically. This foundation cultivates both a love of the faith and a depth of understanding of Catholic doctrine that will allow young adults to grow together and share life’s truth with others.
In today’s society, moral clarity is more important than ever. We live in a culture in which moral relativism is the prevailing value and traditional views of marriage, gender, life, family, and religious freedom are under attack. Young people are also faced with the constant temptation of materialism and are urged to seek earthly goods rather than heavenly treasure. Attending a faithful Catholic institution provides clarity on these issues. This clarity comes not just from the classroom but is present in the overall culture of the campus, as it is manifest in the speakers invited to campus, clubs sponsored, and the faithful witness of faculty and staff as role models for students in living a moral, Catholic Christian life.
Any college can give you a degree in your respective field, but not all prepare you to live life in a way pleasing to God. A faithful Catholic college helps its students to embrace the fullness of who God is calling them to be and provides the foundation, habits, and inspiration to live their life with a view toward eternity.
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