Belmont Abbey College Exhibits ‘Faith, Hope and Love’ During Unusual Year

The 2020-21 academic year was challenging for colleges across the country, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., which is recommended in The Newman Guide for faithful Catholic education, made the decision to “trust completely… in Divine Providence” and be “prudent” in decision making.

The Newman Society recently asked Dr. Bill Thierfelder, president of Belmont Abbey, about the college’s Catholic identity, how it influenced the decisions that were made this year, and how it will continue to impact the College in the years ahead.

Newman Society: While many Catholic and public colleges opted for online learning this fall, why did Belmont Abbey College decide to move forward with in-person learning? How did the Benedictine hallmark of “community” influence this decision?

Dr. Thierfelder: The reason we committed to returning to in-person learning in August of 2020 was grounded in our Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and our call to emulate Him by sharing our real presence with others. As a Catholic college, we believe in educating and forming the whole person in mind, body and soul. It is far from the secularistic and materialistic philosophy of simply exchanging or sharing information. Although technology can be a useful adjunct or tool to enhance learning, it can never be a substitute for real presence.

Newman Society: Belmont Abbey’s return to campus included practical measures to help prevent and slow the spread of the virus on campus, including quarantining and isolating students as needed. But what role did trusting in God play in the plans?

Dr. Thierfelder: Jesus, I trust in You! At Belmont Abbey College, we trust completely and absolutely in God’s Divine Providence and, at the same time, we realize our obligation and desire to fully cooperate with His grace that is raining down on us. Giving our 100 percent requires being prudent in all that we do. Jesus makes clear in the parable of the talents (Mt. 25:14-30) that we are called to double the talents that He has given to us.

Newman Society: How did Belmont Abbey lean on the monks and their prayers during this time?

Dr. Thierfelder: The 1,500-year Benedictine monastic tradition that helped build and preserve Western Civilization is foundational to our community. Belmont Abbey College is their apostolate. It is their ora et labora. Every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for their entire lives, they are praying throughout the day, offering Mass, confession and spiritual direction to our students, faculty and staff. The Monastic community’s stability, peace and life of welcoming every person as Christ, in persona Christi, is ever present. The Monks continually remind us that Mary, Help of Christians, the Abbey’s Patroness, continually surrounds us with her mantle of protection.

Newman Society: What do you think Belmont Abbey’s leadership during this unusual time says about the College to prospective students?

Dr. Thierfelder: Be not afraid! We are people of faith, hope and love. Belmont Abbey has survived two world wars, the Spanish flu, the Great Depression and so much more, and we are confident that by the grace of God, and our cooperation with it, we will overcome every challenge including COVID-19.

Newman Society: How do you expect the College’s strong Catholic identity to shine in the weeks and years ahead?

Dr. Thierfelder: Our strategic plan, BAC2030 Love in Truth, has three goals. The first is to secure financial freedom and eliminate dependence on federal funding, through strategic institutional growth in development, enrollment, retention, academic entrepreneurship and brand recognition. The second is to be active contributors to, and influencers of, culture, society and education by contributing to the common good and evangelizing through faith, reason, excellence and virtue. And third is to prepare students to seek the good, the true and the beautiful. Guided to live lives rooted in objective truth and animated by authentic love, they will come to know their purpose in life and the true meaning of friendship, professional success and love of God, family and country.

Through objective truth and authentic love, we will melt hearts, enlighten minds and win souls so that the world and each one of us becomes what God is calling us to be!

Putting an End to Catholic Commencement Controversies

Spring is here, with pomp and circumstance. It is also the season of controversies over the choice of commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients at America’s Catholic colleges. Will the annual conflicts ever end?

Perhaps there is a way. And it would be none too soon.

More than a decade after the University of Notre Dame venerated President Barack Obama at its commencement ceremony, sparking a public outcry from 83 bishops, Notre Dame could soon honor President Biden – a dissenting Catholic who is stridently opposed to the Church on abortion, gender ideology, and religious freedom. The university claims a tradition of inviting sitting U.S. presidents to deliver commencement addresses. But alumni are urging the school not to repeat the 2009 fiasco.

It’s not just a problem at Notre Dame, of course. Many Catholic colleges have persisted in violating the U.S. bishops’ policy forbidding Catholic organizations from giving “those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. . .awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

My organization, The Cardinal Newman Society, has been even more vocal than the bishops in decrying these honors. Nevertheless, there has been little progress toward resolving disagreements between the Church and academia over academic freedom and whether such public honors constitute scandal.

Perhaps there is a way of bypassing these disputes – at least temporarily. For the good of their students and of the Church, Catholic college leaders need to put a halt to the commencement controversies. We Catholics face increasingly strident attacks on our morals and religious freedom. We need unity within the Church, not division. College leaders can set the example by voluntarily honoring only the best exemplars of moral virtue, regardless of whether they claim the freedom to do otherwise.

Continue reading at The Catholic Thing…

After Crazy 2020, Students Seek No-Nonsense Catholic Colleges

During uncertain and troubling times, what’s a Catholic high school senior to think about attending college?

Christ promised, “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” For young people across America, the year 2020 was tumultuous and often difficult, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the election, racial tensions and violence. Did any of this affect students’ resolve to attend a faithful Catholic college?

That was the question posed to high school seniors competing for scholarships in The Cardinal Newman Society’s annual essay contest, and the responses we received give me great hope for the future. Indeed, the events of the past year have made me even more certain of the need for wise and virtuous graduates of faithful Catholic schools and colleges. We rely on them to renew our culture.

Trinity Chester, a homeschooled student in California, writes that the “challenges of the past year” left her with the conviction that she “could not possibly settle for anything less” than a faithful Catholic college.

“As colleges across the country have shut down or taken classes completely online, faithful Catholic colleges have gone above and beyond to minister to their students in these trying times and keep classes in-person, if at all possible,” Chester reflects in her winning essay. “These schools are truly almae matres — nourishing mothers who care for their children’s physical, emotional, and spiritual welfare.”

She looks forward to attending a college where “Christ is at the heart” of campus and the education “seeks knowledge of the true, the good and the beautiful.” She believes a liberal arts education is practical, too:

In a post-COVID economy … graduates will need a holistic education that will equip them for life and give them a versatile skillset. Catholic colleges, with their strong focus on the Liberal Arts, give students the knowledge, critical thinking skills and flexibility to succeed in any venture.

Chester will use her $5,000 scholarship to attend Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California, where students are being prepared “each in their own way … to live lives of service.” About 10 percent of the College’s alumni have entered the priesthood or religious life, a third of the graduates have gone on to graduate studies or other advanced education, and others have pursued a wide variety of careers.

“Faithful Catholic colleges equip their students to be missionaries for the faith by carrying Christ with them into the world after graduation,” Chester writes.

“The events of the past year have taught us that our broken world desperately needs young people with a love for the Lord and a missionary spirit, who will dedicate their lives to service and evangelization,” says Chester.

Praise God for faithful Catholic colleges and for the students who attend them! They are a great light in the darkness of our culture today. May God bless Trinity and all her fellow students who are preparing to attend college this fall.

This article first appeared at the National Catholic Register.

More information about the Essay Scholarship Contest:

The Newman Society’s annual Essay Scholarship Contest is open to high school seniors in the United States who participate in the Newman Society’s Recruit Me program and use The Newman Guide in their college search. The innovative Recruit Me program invites Newman Guide colleges to compete for students while providing information about faithful Catholic education. Rising high school seniors who wish to enter next year’s essay contest can sign up for Recruit Me online at

Trinity Chester describes her use of The Newman Guide:

The Newman Guide was incredibly helpful to me in my college search. I found it so encouraging to read the winning essays from past years and know that there were other young people out there who wanted the same things I wanted in a college experience. The Newman Guide website made it easy for me to compare faithful Catholic colleges and narrow down the factors that were important to me. I also enjoyed the student takeovers on the Newman Society’s Instagram account because they allowed me an inside look at campus culture and student life.

Chester’s $5,000 scholarship is made possible thanks to the generosity of Joseph and Ann Guiffre, supporters of The Cardinal Newman Society and faithful Catholic education.

“We are grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Guiffre for enabling this scholarship,” said Newman Society President Patrick Reilly. “They understand the unique value of a truly Catholic education, and they are thrilled to help a student experience all that a Newman Guide-recommended college can provide.”

The winner of the annual contest also has the opportunity to receive an additional $15,000 from participating colleges over the course of their college education. Sixteen of the Newman Guide colleges have agreed to supplement the Newman Society’s scholarship with additional $5,000 grants over three additional years, under certain conditions including full-time enrollment and academic progress.

Protecting Your Right to Educate: How Catholic Education Can Defend Against Emerging Legal Threats

Editor’s Note: The article below is included in the forthcoming spring 2021 edition of the Newman Society’s Our Catholic Mission magazine.

Half a century into a sexual revolution that has upturned notions of sexual morality and even gender identity, Catholic education is under attack like never before. Religious schools and colleges are facing protests, lawsuits and other serious threats—all because Catholic educators hold fast to Church teachings that were considered common sense even a decade ago.

Catholic schools and colleges have not sought out and do not want this confrontation. They exist to form young people to serve and worship God and to spread love and hope to others, rooted in the Church’s teaching on the dignity of the human person and God’s design for human sexuality. But educators are finding that, due to forces beyond their control, their freedom to operate according to conscience and mission is shrinking.

No option for compromise

As legal and cultural pressures continue to swell, Catholic school leaders must decide now how they will respond. Many Catholic educators decided a long time ago to assimilate with changes in modern culture. This is a non-starter for schools and colleges that take seriously the mission of authentic Catholic education. Nor is it realistic for Catholic educators to simply hope that this cultural moment will pass them by without incident.

Another option would be to make some compromises with the culture in the hopes of brokering a peace. The pervasive attacks on traditional moral teaching have led some religious leaders to try to compromise and thereby win some good will from gender and sexuality activists. Mormon and Evangelical leaders have tried this approach in recent years, with decidedly mixed results.

In 2015 the Mormon Church threw its weight behind the “Utah Compromise,” an attempt to broker a truce in the culture war by pairing new civil rights protections with religious-liberty protections for faith-based organizations. At the end of 2018, major Evangelical Christian groups—including the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the National Association of Evangelicals—endorsed their own version of this compromise approach under the slogan “Fairness for All.” One supporter described the effort to World Magazine in these terms:

As Christian higher educators, we are increasingly persuaded that the most viable political strategy is for comprehensive religious freedom protections to be combined with explicit support for basic human rights for members of the LGBT community.

So far, however, there is little reason to call the “Fairness for All” approach a success. While progressive activists celebrated what they were able to accomplish in Utah, they quickly signaled that it was not enough, and that they would push for more whenever they had the opportunity. Advocates specifically complained that the “Utah Compromise” yielded too much so-called “religious liberty.” The Left has come to see the battle between progressive goals and religious liberty as a zero-sum game, and increasingly decries “religious liberty” as a code word for bigotry. There is little reason for religious conservatives to believe they can change people’s minds on this by compromising on nondiscrimination law.

If compromising principles in order to placate progressive critics is a flawed political strategy, it is perhaps an even worse legal strategy. At one point, the University of Notre Dame told a federal judge that, consistent with Ex corde Ecclesiae, it was prohibited from paying for, providing, or facilitating access to contraceptives. But in 2014, the University reversed course and voluntarily began complying with the HHS Mandate. This sort of inconsistency invites courts to probe as to whether a school’s stated religious convictions are sincere, a key inquiry in religious liberty cases. Perhaps even worse, it encourages protestors and plaintiffs by giving them reason to hope that Catholic institutions will cave if only the heat is turned up hot enough.

Adopt strong Catholic policies

Rather than trying to appease the Church’s critics, Catholic organizations should instead look to clarify and strengthen their religious identity. This is the best way for Catholic schools and colleges to embrace their distinctive mission.

As The Cardinal Newman Society has stressed, the Church calls Catholic educators “to remain vigilant in their mission” by resisting the temptation to conform to the world. Schools and colleges must do this “by preserving a Catholic culture which proclaims essential truths about the nature and dignity of the human person.”

Fortunately, this ecclesial mandate is also a strong and wise legal strategy. While the challenges facing churches and religious organizations are daunting, our nation’s bedrock commitment to religious liberty remains strong. This historical commitment continues to live in the First Amendment’s protections for religious and expressive freedom, broad religious liberty statutes, and specific exemptions found in a number of laws.

Conduct a Mission Audit

In order to best protect their religious liberty, it is imperative that Catholic schools and colleges understand and take full advantage of these protections. To do so, Catholic educators should undertake a Mission Audit to help them understand where they are likely to face challenges and to ensure that they have an architecture in place to protect their freedom to minister and work in accordance with their faith. A Mission Audit also helps schools implement strong Catholic standards, such as those developed by the Newman Society, in every aspect of Catholic education.

Just as a general audit helps an organization understand its financial soundness, a Mission Audit will help a religious organization understand how its religious convictions affect its work and how these convictions may face conflict. The proposed mission audit outlines the kind of practical steps religious institutions can take to avoid such conflicts, improve their ability to claim religious liberty protections, and prepare themselves for potential challenges.

Many school and college leaders see the need to make improvements along these lines but struggle to understand where to begin and what steps they should be taking in the short term. The Mission Audit that I have guided dozens of school, colleges, and other religious institutions through begins with getting leaders around a table to make sure they have clarity about their mission and convictions. Building on this consensus, leaders should ask some high-level questions to get a sense about what they need in order to accomplish their mission and whether documents and policies adequately convey these requirements. The most important areas to review are employee expectations, student expectations, nondiscrimination statements, and facilities use policies. Schools may also want to make sure they understand the nondiscrimination requirements they are subject to through professional or extracurricular organizations like sports leagues.

In undertaking this overview, school leaders may find it helpful to refer to guides that have been prepared and made available by religious liberty groups. But while publicly available guides and templates can be a good start, most schools and colleges should invest in a more detailed and individualized strategy. Every organization’s circumstances are different, and sophisticated entities should not entrust their legal exposure to an online resource any more than they would forego individualized tax advice.

Each organization’s process will need to take into account the challenges in its locality, as well as the religious liberty provisions specific to the organization type and location. The audit outlined below is a sizable undertaking, but such planning is necessary as a matter of stewardship and prudent leadership. While each such audit must be tailored to the particular entity, every organization’s process should involve three basic steps:

1. Clarify scope and objectives

The first step in the audit process is for school and college leaders, together with legal counsel, to discuss the institution’s general concerns and establish the scope of the audit. Most Mission Audits should address the following subject areas:

Corporate documents

Is the school or college taking advantage of available opportunities to establish its identity as a religious organization under relevant laws?

Public accommodations

Does the school or college have policies and procedures for facility use and rental? If so, does its process properly balance reasons for renting its facilities with its ability to control how the campus is used?

Nondiscrimination policies

Do nondiscrimination policies—in handbooks, policy manuals, and elsewhere—accurately reflect how the school or college makes decisions?

Student conduct issues

Do promotional materials, enrollment process, student handbook, disciplinary process and procedures, etc., appropriately communicate and secure consent regarding the community’s standards and their connection to the religious identity of the school or college?

Employee conduct issues

Does the school or college understand how available religious liberty protections apply to each position? Has it laid the proper groundwork so that it is able to invoke available religious liberty protections when necessary?

Sexual abuse

Do policies and procedures for handling allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct reflect best practices? Is the school or college well-positioned to handle allegations in a manner that balances justice and mercy and that prepares it to address related public relations and legal challenges?

2. Audit policies and procedures

The second stage of the audit involves reviewing how the school or college operates at present. The audit usually begins with a document review and continues with follow-up questions and conversations. A thorough document review typically involves the following: corporate documents; human resources documents; student-related documents; sexual abuse policies and procedures; facility rental policies and procedures; and documents related to third-party obligations, including sports leagues, grants, and government contracts.

3. Develop recommendations

While the first two stages of the audit help a school or college understand where it stands, this final stage is the most important. Here, educators will identify and implement strategies to help them continue to pursue their mission despite the present and emerging threats to religious liberty.

The first goal is to identify obstacles that can be avoided. The school or college could seek to: eliminate unnecessary legal conflicts; eliminate peripheral activities; reduce dependence on government funding; or reduce oversight from licensing or accrediting organizations.

For those conflicts that are not easily avoidable, religious organizations should work to improve their ability to claim crucial protections for religious liberty. By scholar Douglas Laycock’s count, there were 2,000 religious exemptions in state and federal law in 1992. The audit should help educators identify the religious liberty protections most relevant to their activities and identify ways to reshape policies, practices, and documentation in light of these protections.

Finally, the audit recommends ways for the school or college to avoid controversy. While positioning itself to qualify for religious liberty protections, a religious organization should not overlook some simple, practical things it can do to avoid controversy. It should do everything it can to treat employees well and to apply moral standards consistently.

Mission Audits can be conducted with other peer organizations to save on costs and should be done through trusted legal counsel.

Undertaking a Mission Audit—and implementing strong Catholic standards like the Newman Society outlines on the following pages—will go a long way in helping Catholic schools strengthen their mission and defend against legal threats.


Eric Kniffin is legal advisor to The Cardinal Newman Society and a partner with Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he specializes in protecting religious institutions. This article is adapted from a paper published at the Newman Society’s website. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only.

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Faithful Catholic Colleges Help Prepare ‘Next Generation of Saints,’ Says College-Bound Student

Trinity Chester

Editor’s Note: The Cardinal Newman Society recently announced Trinity Chester, a homeschooled student in California, as the winner of the Society’s fifth annual Essay Scholarship Contest for Catholic college-bound students. Chester will receive a $5,000 scholarship toward her education at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California, this fall. Below is the full text of Chester’s winning essay. More information about the Contest can be obtained here, and students who want to be eligible for next year’s Contest can sign up for Recruit Me here.

“Jesus, I trust in You.” I have whispered this prayer countless times throughout the past months. Amidst overturned plans, isolation, uncertainty, and limited access to the Sacraments, a simple act of trust in the Lord often feels nearly impossible. Even before the pandemic began, I knew that I wanted to attend a Catholic college, but the challenges of the past year have left me with the conviction that I could not possibly settle for anything less. I have various reasons for choosing to spend the next four years of my life in an academic community steeped in the rich and beautiful traditions of our faith, but they all boil down to one essential point: Christ is truly present there. And only in Christ’s presence can real peace, joy, and fulfillment be found.

Christ is at the heart of Catholic learning communities around the world. The most important building on a faithful Catholic campus is its chapel, where the Blessed Sacrament is housed. These beautiful churches are the epicenters of campus life, and from them Christ’s presence infuses colleges with a sense of peace and purpose. An education that seeks knowledge of the true, the good, and the beautiful must by definition bring us closer to Christ, who is Truth, Goodness, and Beauty incarnate. The genuine camaraderie found at Catholic colleges arises when people live and work in community with a common purpose—to know, love, and serve the Lord—and it cannot exist without Christ as its foundation.

The events of the past year have taught us that our broken world desperately needs young people with a love for the Lord and a missionary spirit, who will dedicate their lives to service and evangelization. Faithful Catholic colleges equip their students to be missionaries for the faith by carrying Christ with them into the world after graduation. Students joyfully and generously answer God’s call in their lives, whether to the single life, marriage, the priesthood, or religious life. Catholic colleges affirm the universal call to holiness, equipping students with the means to be Christ’s hands and feet and to glorify Him in their work.

With the inevitable effects of the pandemic on the economy, it might seem crazy to pursue a degree in the Liberal Arts. In a post-COVID economy, however, graduates will need a holistic education that will equip them for life and give them a versatile skillset. Catholic colleges, with their strong focus on the Liberal Arts, give students the knowledge, critical thinking skills, and flexibility to succeed in any venture. My personal dream is to be a writer: to inspire, uplift, communicate truth, and bring beauty into the world with my words. In order to do this, I must first learn to recognize truth and appreciate beauty. A Liberal Arts degree will acquaint me with the full width and breadth of human thought, from philosophy to the natural sciences, from history to literature, and give me the tools I need to succeed in life.

As schools across the country have shut down or taken classes completely online, faithful Catholic colleges have gone above and beyond to minister to their students in these trying times and keep classes in-person, if at all possible. These schools are truly almae matres—nourishing mothers who care for their children’s physical, emotional, and spiritual welfare. At a Catholic college, I can be confident that administrators, faculty, staff, and my fellow students will have my best interests at heart. “For,” as Christ says in St. Matthew’s Gospel, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” From faithful Catholic colleges will come
the next generation of saints for our times.

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Graduate Scholarships Available to Alumni of Newman Guide Colleges

Are you planning to pursue graduate studies? Seniors and alumni of faithful Newman Guide-recommended colleges should know of these scholarship opportunities offered especially for them. And if you are still in high school but have plans someday for graduate school, you might consider a Newman Guide college to take advantage of these great opportunities.

Business Administration

Benedictine College, which is recommended in The Newman Guide, is located in Atchison, Kan. It offers a scholarship averaging $10,000 on a rolling basis to graduates of Newman Guide-recommended colleges entering the Master of Business Administration program online or on-site. More than 45 scholarships have been awarded since 2016.

Among its top 10 reasons for earning an MBA at Benedictine is the college’s “vibrant Catholic community” that is “producing business leaders who will transform the world through their commitment to professional, intellectual, personal and spiritual excellence.” In addition to the campus experience, the MBA is available through a Live Interactive Video Conferencing option that allows students to participate from anywhere in the country.

Jason Fabaz, assistant director of graduate business programs and professional development at the College’s School of Business, says:

Our professors are committed to upholding, in all of their lectures and classroom discussions, the teachings of the Catholic Church in regards to a faithful Catholic view of business, of economics, of justice, of social doctrine, etc. Our Mission of Community, Faith and Scholarship is built on Four Pillars: Catholic, Residential, Benedictine and Liberal Arts. Earning your MBA at Benedictine College gives you the added benefit of living in the midst of a vibrant Catholic community where you will be supported in your studies, professional pursuits, recreation outlets and your spiritual life. It is by means of this community that we are producing business leaders who will transform the world through their commitment to professional, intellectual, personal and spiritual excellence.

Fabaz believes that alumni of Newman Guide colleges are a great fit for the program:

We are happy to offer scholarships for graduates of Newman Guide-recommended colleges for two reasons. First, we want to ease the MBA tuition burden for those Catholic young professionals who have already made the sacrifice in paying for a private school tuition. Second, we want to especially attract young Catholics who are serious about their Faith and about a career in business — and we know that graduates from the Newman Guide-recommended colleges are impressive young people, both in terms of their moral life, their spiritual life and in terms of their potential as future business leaders.

Since Benedictine College is also a Newman Guide college, students from other Newman Guide colleges align closely with our philosophy here. They will fit in well with our emphasis on business ethics, collaboration and leadership based on the faith. Things like our Thompson Center for Integrity in Finance & Economics are a demonstration of how we feel our students should impact the world and students from Newman Guide colleges more than likely share a similar vision.

Human Rights

The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., is also recommended in The Newman Guide. Its Institute for Human Ecology recently announced a new Master of Arts in Human Rights. Led by longtime pro-life leader and attorney William Saunders, the program draws on studies in philosophy, theology, law, canon law and the sciences, and will ignite in students a passion to defend human life. The program is available on a full-time or part-time basis.

A new $5,000 scholarship is available for graduates of Newman Guide colleges. The scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis. The deadline is July 15 for the fall semester.

“The Master of Arts program explains and interprets human rights through the lens of Catholic social thought. Students from Newman Guide-recommended colleges will appreciate this approach,” says Saunders.

“A solid education at a college committed to the truth and in step with the Catholic mission to the world would prepare a student perfectly for our program,” Saunders says, “within which we examine the deep truths about the human person and the common good.”

He adds:

In addition to the classes, which will be taught by professors committed to Catholic social thought, as exemplified by the teaching of John Paul II, we will have weekly meetings to explore the relevance of Catholic social thought to what is being learned in the classroom. We will also have frequent speakers from D.C., most of whom will be Catholics, to discuss their work and their faith. In addition, Catholic University is fully committed to the Church’s mission and intellectual apostolate and is itself a Newman Guide-recommended college.

Robert George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, has praised the program:

I think this [program] will really bring something new to the table. That is an understanding of human rights rooted in the deep tradition of thought that takes us back to Athens and to Jerusalem, an approach to human rights that really anchors human rights in the truth about the human person and the flourishing of the human person. … We need that kind of deep understanding.


Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Fla., is imbued with an “educational philosophy that emphasizes the moral foundations of the law, presents insights from the Catholic intellectual tradition and encourages a broader perspective of the law and its role in society.” Students learn to practice law in any jurisdiction or employment area.

According to Claire O’Keefe, Esq., associate dean of admissions:

Our goal for law students is to create an educational philosophy that emphasizes the moral foundations of the law, presents insights from the Catholic intellectual tradition and encourages a broader perspective of Florida law and its primary role in society. Ave Maria Law encompasses a carefully curated curriculum designed to ensure our graduates will be well prepared to practice law in any jurisdiction and legal institution. Ave Maria School of Law students come to embrace the law as a vocation. They understand that the law, morality and the common good are inextricably linked, and they leave their studies with a true understanding of the harmony of faith and reason.

The law school offers a “Cardinal Newman Full Tuition Scholarship” with a one-time “Cardinal Newman Stipend” of up to $10,000 toward living expenses for the first year of the program. Students from other Catholic undergraduate programs are eligible for the scholarship and stipend in addition to Newman Guide college alumni, and the awards are available to more than one student per year. Thirteen students received the scholarship in 2020, 12 in 2019 and in 2018, 15 in 2017 and six in 2016. The application deadline is April 15 for the summer start program and July 15 for the fall semester.

O’Keefe says the School is eager for applicants from Newman Guide colleges:

As Ave Maria School of Law seeks to admit men and women who are drawn to our distinctive mission of educating lawyers within the Catholic intellectual tradition, we welcome applications from alumni of these institutions and members of these organizations. We are confident that these students will enrich the academic and spiritual life of the Law School.

The fact that all Newman Society-approved colleges are committed to a faithful Catholic education. While the approach differs from college to college, it is the constant presence of an authentic Catholic life and strong curriculum that makes these students a perfect fit for our school.


Divine Mercy University in Sterling, Va., offers online and on-site advanced degree programs that integrate “both the science and practice of psychology and counseling with the Catholic-Christian vision of the person.” The university’s “Newman Scholarship” provides up to $5,000 in financial aid toward obtaining a Master of Science degree in psychology or counseling, or a Doctor of Psychology degree in clinical psychology. This scholarship is for students enrolling in a new program of study who graduated from a college recommended in The Newman Guide.

DMU offers the Newman Scholarship in light of the excellent preparation students receive from Newman Guide colleges. “We have found that, in part due to their strong personal formation as undergraduates, students from Newman colleges tend to excel in our programs,” says Tambi Spitz Kilhefner, associate vice president of admissions at Divine Mercy University.

The university has three program start dates every year, which differ according to program (e.g., the Psy.D. program has only one start each year, in August). Each start offers opportunities to apply for the Newman Scholarship. For additional information and details on qualifications and program deadlines, please see this link.

Regarding Newman Guide colleges, Kilhefner says:

At Divine Mercy University, we provide a profoundly unique home for scholarship and professional training in psychology and counseling grounded in an integral Catholic-Christian view of the human person. Students who have excelled in a Newman Guide college program are well prepared to enter into our programs here at DMU

Kilhefner referenced the testimony of Jody G., a student in the M.S. in Counseling program at Divine Mercy University, who said: “I am forever grateful for my formation received at Thomas Aquinas College, a faithful Catholic college which has more than adequately prepared me for the counseling program with DMU. My courses in philosophy and theology, in particular, have prepared me to tackle the complex material that we are studying in the integrated program and take my personal and professional preparation to a deeper level.”

College-Bound? Try These Catholic Summer Programs

What better way for a high school student to spend a week or two this summer, than to enjoy a fun and spiritual program at a Catholic college!

A faithful Catholic education can prepare students not only for a career, but for life. Whether or not you plan to attend a Catholic college, a summer program at one of the faithful colleges recommended in The Newman Guide can be enriching and will give you a taste of the benefits of a Catholic education.

Summer programs are a great opportunity for high school students to strengthen their academic and extracurricular skills, grow in their spiritual lives, get a head-start on college visits, learn from distinguished professors, make lifelong friends and experience what faithful Catholic education is all about. Here are some options:

Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla., is offering a 12-day Summer Shakespeare Camp for high school students and rising college freshmen. Attendees live on campus and achieve artistic growth through an immersive academic experience. The University also offers a three-day Youth Conference called “Fearless: The Lord is my Light and my Salvation—Whom Shall I Fear” for high school students from July 9-11 with great speakers, music, Adoration and Benediction. There is also a four-day High School Leadership Training Retreat that precedes the “Fearless” Youth Conference.

Belmont Abbey College’s Schola program in Belmont, N.C., strives to cultivate a true life of leisure over two distinct one-week sessions in July. This summer, Belmont Abbey will be offering the first week virtually and the second week in-person. According to the College, students are invited “to slow down, to spend a summer week cultivating the goodness of their souls by reading and discussing classic works of philosophy and literature with friends, having meaningful conversations about the fundamental questions of life, enjoying daily recreational and social activities, viewing films, contemplating beautiful works of art and spending time in prayer and worship with the monastic community of Belmont Abbey.” Videos on the Schola program webpage show some of the highlights of previous years.

The Benedictine College Youth Conferences (BCYC) Immersion program in Atchison, Kan., allows students to choose from various “tracks” including computer science, engineering, pre-med, nursing, great books, American politics, philosophy, graphic design, voice, art and more.  Outside of class, students participate in Bible studies, attend Mass and engage in a variety of social activities from dances to sports to scavenger hunts. Participants report that they come away from the week refreshed and inspired: “Just being around other great people that all shared the same values and ideas as me has given me so much courage to live a life for Christ back home where people don’t necessarily share my values.” New this year is “BCYC Leadership,” which will help students discover how Catholic leadership principles can transform the way they lead at school, in their parish and in their community. Students can choose to focus on athletic leadership, business leadership, pro-life leadership, leadership in the New Evangelization or principles of Catholic leadership. There’s also a BCYC Encounter program, led by current Benedictine students, which is a weekend conference for parish and diocesan groups that focuses on Benedictine spirituality. Finally, Benedictine is inviting rising high school juniors, seniors and graduated seniors to earn three hours of college credit while studying abroad on a “Journey with Dante,” a three-week trip in Italy.

The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., offers a wide variety of summer educational experiences with weeklong summer programs focused on architecture, performing arts, mathematics and theology, providing opportunities to rising juniors and seniors for an exciting educational experience in the nation’s Capital. Light the World! Summer Institute lets high school students witness faithful excellence in action in business, science, politics, sports and the arts while meeting professionals who live out their faith in everyday life. The Applied Math in Action! pre-college program prepares students to enter STEM fields by learning applied math, visiting places where math is used, and interacting with other young people with similar interests. The Experiences in Architecture program is an intense two-week, pre-college workshop that exposes students to both the academic and professional sides of the architectural arena, with the capital city as their classroom. Catholic University’s High School Drama Institute is a program for students who wish to study voice, movement and acting with experts in the field. The University also plans to expand its dual enrollment program for the two Summer 2021 sessions, with a wider array of classes available for rising high school seniors and homeschooled students. Additional details on these programs along with business, engineering and music summer programs will be forthcoming.

Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., is offering “The Best Week Ever,” a choice of five different one-week sessions during the summer of 2021. Intended for rising high school seniors, the program instills in students “a deep appreciation for the liberal arts, Catholic culture, true friendship, and the beauty of God’s creation evidenced in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.” Participants attend daily classes in literature, philosophy, history and theology; hike in the mountains; canoe on the Shenandoah River; sing Irish songs; learn to swing dance and forge new friendships. As one student said afterward, “When I first heard about it, I honestly thought the ‘Best Week Ever’ was just an advertisement, but I truly did have the best week of my life and I have made memories I will treasure forever. Not only did I learn so much during my short time at Christendom this summer, but I’ve met the most amazing people and made friends I am still keeping up with. In learning so much about Christendom College and meeting such dedicated Catholics, I grew much closer to Christ and left the program with a desire to continue growing my relationship with God.”

Franciscan University’s summer Steubenville Conferences are popular with Catholic high school students across the country. The three-day Catholic conferences bring teens into a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. Conferences take place at multiple locations across the United States and Canada, including five conferences at Franciscan University’s campus in Steubenville, Ohio. The theme for the 2021 conferences is “Restored” (Psalm 80:3). Dynamic speakers this summer include Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Leah Darrow, Chika Anyanwu, Sarah Swafford and Fr. Agustino Torres, CFR. As we emerge from the pandemic, both in-person and livestream conference formats will be offered for those who can travel and for those who cannot. A resource guide for youth groups will be provided to those who need to join remotely. Interested students must apply to attend a conference through a parish, high school or youth ministry group.

High school students and recent graduates are invited to preview the academic community and life of Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, N.H., through its Collegiate Summer Program, being held July 11-24 and August 1-14, 2021. Students are taught by Magdalen  College professors each day and are introduced to liberal education through classic texts from philosophy, literature, theology, and political thought. Outside of the classroom, program participants attend daily Mass, climb Mount Kearsarge, canoe on a river, relax around bonfires, swing dance, visit local landmarks and much more. This year, students can apply to receive one of 10 half-tuition scholarships (valued at $200) to Magdalen College’s summer programs.

Once again, Thomas Aquinas College is offering its Great Books summer program in two locations: its campus in Santa Paula, Calif., from July 11 to 24, and its newly opened second campus in Northfield, Mass., from July 25 to August 7. These two-week programs engage students in seminars on Plato, Sophocles, Euclid, Blaise Pascal and St. Thomas Aquinas, among others. In addition to daily recreational and liturgical activities, the program also includes day trips to nearby cities. A detailed day-to-day picture of what the Great Books program is like can be found on the college’s blog. This program is offered to rising seniors.

Thomas More College in Merrimack, N.H., offers two different summer options for high school-aged students. The Great Books program, which is a two-week session offered June 27-July 10 and July 18-31, will inculcate its participants in a “healthy balance of prayer, work, and play” as they read authors like St. Thomas More and William Shakespeare. This year the school is continuing its partnership with The Wooden Boat School to offer the Exploration & Adventure in New England program, which runs from August 14-21. Participants read stories about the sea, learn to sing sea shanties and master sailing on the coast of Maine.

The University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., offers two summer programs for high school students. The Cor Christi Institute program runs for two sessions in July on the University’s campus. This program invites high school students of all grades to encounter Jesus and learn the foundational teachings and practices of the Catholic faith through serious study, good conversation and wholesome friendship. The Rome Study Pilgrimage will take place June 16-30 and is open to rising seniors of regional Catholic high schools. Students will be able to experience some of the splendors of Rome while also earning two college credits.

For students interested in traveling abroad, the University of Navarra offers Spanish Intensive Summer Courses at its language institute on campus, Instituto Lengua y Cultura Española, ILCE. ILCE is offered in-person, so students get to enjoy all the campus has to offer. ILCE will also offer an online Summer course, June 28-July 30, and three other on-campus courses between May and August. Students taking these courses can earn college credit. 

For those juniors and seniors with adventurous spirits and a love for the outdoors, Wyoming Catholic College’s PEAK program in Lander, Wyo., offers a unique experience. It runs for two weeks: you can attend either from June 20-July 3 or from July 5-18. Students are given the opportunity to study the Great Books under the instruction of WCC faculty and to immerse themselves in the sacraments. Students are also engaged in a variety of outdoor activities, tailored to the experience and fitness of each participant, including a backpacking trip, fly fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing and more.

The Biden Administration Poses New Threats to Catholic Education

In just the first months of the Biden administration, Catholic educators have been confronted by serious threats to their freedom to teach and witness to the Catholic faith.

We knew the storm was coming. Over the last four years, schools and colleges enjoyed a brief respite before the anticipated return of Obama-era policies like the mandate for contraception coverage in healthcare plans and attempts to open bathrooms and locker rooms to students of the opposite sex.

The new threats loom even larger. Catholics face radical attempts to erode protections for our schools, colleges, homeschooling, and all models of Catholic education to fulfill their mission to uphold the moral law and other Catholic teaching. In particular, the Biden administration seems determined to force Catholic schools and colleges—and all religious organizations—to embrace gender ideology or close their doors.

President Biden has promised to sign the dangerous Equality Act in his first 100 days. At this time, the Equality Act has passed the House and is awaiting a vote in the Senate, where its fate may depend on whether the Senate ends the filibuster and requires only a majority vote. Meanwhile, some Republicans have floated a false compromise—misnamed “Fairness for All”—that would only partly delay the collapse of religious freedom.

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine…

Popular Majors, Sports, and Activities at Newman Guide Colleges

At a U.S. residential college recommended in The Newman Guide, you can receive a faithful Catholic education and…

…major in engineering.

Several colleges combine engineering with a solid liberal arts core curriculum.

“Catholics need to succeed in the sciences to make an impact on the most important developments of our time,” said Dr. Stephen Minnis, president of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. “Students don’t just learn information or a skill—they become the person God wants them to be and the world needs.”

Benedictine College, The Catholic University of America, Franciscan University of Steubenville, University of Dallas, University of Mary, University of St. Thomas-Houston, and Walsh University offer programs in engineering.

Both four- and five-year programs are offered.  Some are cooperative or dual degree programs.  Choices include degrees in aerospace, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, mechanical, petroleum, and software engineering.

…compete in intercollegiate athletics.

Participating in sports is a great way to grow in mind, body and spirit at a faithful Catholic college.  The recommended colleges offer a wide range of athletic opportunities for students.  Belmont Abbey College, University of Mary, and Walsh University compete at the Division II level of the NCAA.  Colleges that offer Division III athletic programs include The Catholic University of America, Franciscan University of Steubenville, the University of Dallas, and the University of St. Thomas.

Additionally, Ave Maria University and Benedictine College participate in NAIA athletics, and Christendom College is a part of USCAA collegiate athletics. The University of Navara has a “Sports Talent Program” to help athletes manage their academic workload while competing in their sport at a competitive or professional level.

Many colleges also offer club and intramural athletic opportunities.  Some have programs that integrate faith formation and athletics.  At, you can use our college-search option to see which recommended colleges offer a specific sport.

…excel in a nursing program.

In a society that does not respect the dignity of all human life, it’s extremely important for Catholic college nursing programs to integrate Church teachings and prepare students for the ethical dilemmas they may face in the workplace.

Not only are Newman Guide preparing nurses with a grounding in Church teaching, but they are having great success in doing it. For example, 100 percent of the graduates of the University of Mary’s nursing program have passed their NCLEX-RN licensure exam on the first try, several years running.

In addition to the University of Mary, many other Newman Guide colleges have schools of nursing or offer nursing majors, including Ave Maria University, Belmont Abbey College, Benedictine College, The Catholic University of America, Franciscan University of Steubenville, University of Dallas, University of Mary, University of St. Thomas in Houston, and Walsh University.

Belmont Abbey College recently announced that Caromont, a local health care system, will be building a hospital adjacent to campus. The lease agreement with the Benedictine monastery will ensure that “nothing contrary to the Church’s teaching will be done at the hospital,” says Dr. Heather Ayala, chair of the college’s biology department. Additionally, the partnership will help support the College’s growth in offering health related programs.

Many graduates of other colleges in The Newman Guide that offer a liberal arts education have found success in nursing and other health fields.

…prepare for military service.

Serving our country is a noble calling, and several faithful Catholic colleges help put students on the path for careers in the military.

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is offered at a number of our recommended colleges, sometimes in partnership with other local universities.  ROTC-colleges include Belmont Abbey College, Benedictine College, The Catholic University of America, Franciscan University of Steubenville, University of Dallas, University of St. Thomas-Houston, and Walsh University.

The Marine Corps highlights Thomas Aquinas College and The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts as preparing graduates with the critical thinking skills that are necessary for this profession.

…become a teacher.

Graduates of liberal arts programs at our recommended colleges are not only well-prepared for a teaching career but are also found at the helm of a number of faithful Catholic schools across the country.

Michael Van Hecke says that the liberal arts education at Thomas Aquinas College instilled in him “a love of learning” and a desire to be an educator “to provide joy and hope to younger students.”  Van Hecke is now the headmaster of St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, Calif., which he helped to found.  Grammar, logic and rhetoric serve as “the philosophical basis” of St. Augustine Academy’s educational efforts.

A number of institutions in The Newman Guide provide a liberal arts education, while others prepare students to become teachers through a specific education program.  Many of these stress the critical responsibility that educators have in teaching the faith to students.

“We don’t want just ‘math’ teachers or ‘history’ teachers,” said Dr. Dan Guernsey, who has served as a professor in Ave Maria University’s education department and is a senior fellow at the Newman Society. “We want Catholic teachers— teachers of faith and versatility who by their example and commitment can attract their students to the great banquet of knowledge and who themselves have eaten and drunk deeply of all the best that humanity has discovered.”

Education programs are offered at Aquinas College, Ave Maria University, Belmont Abbey College, Benedictine College, The Catholic University of America, Franciscan University of Steubenville, University of Dallas, University of Mary, University of St. Thomas, and Walsh University.

…explore the visual and performing arts.

Taking part in the visual and performing arts is different at a faithful Catholic college, because it’s often designed to help students come to a deeper understanding of the human person as made in the image and likeness of God.

Fine and performing arts majors and minors are available at Ave Maria University, Belmont Abbey College, Benedictine College, The Catholic University of America, Franciscan University of Steubenville, John Paul the Great Catholic University, University of Dallas, University of Mary, University of St. Thomas-Houston, and Walsh University.

Additionally, extra-curricular offerings are popular at Newman Guide colleges that offer a liberal arts education.

…study business.

Recent reports indicate that corporate executives increasingly list the liberal arts as a great background for jobs in business.  This is good news for students attending the faithful Catholic colleges recommended by The Newman Guide, many of which challenge students with a rigorous liberal arts curriculum rooted in the Catholic tradition.

Sean Kay, a husband, father of ten, and partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the largest professional services firms in the world, says that he uses the skills he learned during his undergraduate years at Christendom College “much more frequently” than the ones he used in graduate school.

“I love that graduate who has a Catholic, liberal arts perspective, because that individual has a discipline associated with seeking the truth,” says Kay. “They have a set of skills around having a view, articulating that view and defending that view.”

For students looking to major specifically in business, programs are offered at Ave Maria University, Belmont Abbey College, Benedictine College, The Catholic University of America, Franciscan University of Steubenville, John Paul the Great Catholic University, University of Dallas, University of Mary, University of St. Thomas, and Walsh University.

Dr. Andrew Abela, founding dean of the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America, believes that Catholic values are directly applicable to a career in business.  “All of business, including accounting and finance, is properly understood to be oriented to serving the human person, whether that person be customer, employee, supplier, investor or neighbor,” he said.

…and so much more.

The individual Newman Guide college profiles online include much more information about the different majors, clubs, and other extracurricular opportunities awaiting you at a faithful Catholic college.

Happy and successful student

The Happy and Successful Student: Sober and Chaste

Every high school student wonders what God has in store for your life: What are my specific gifts and talents? What exactly is my vocation, my calling in life? Will I be happy with my future? I want to be loved; is there anyone out there for me?

If you are going to college, you naturally also wonder what God has in store for the next few years. Hopefully it will be a joyful, fulfilling adventure!

Sadly it’s not unusual for college students to develop unhealthy relationships and engage in unhealthy behaviors. It will be up to you, with God’s help, to stay on the good path—the path of chastity, sobriety, and excellence.

At the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), we call these the “Big Three.” By no means are these the only things necessary for being a good Christian. First, we must have a relationship with God and communication through prayer. But we stress chastity, sobriety, and excellence because they are tough virtues to acquire on a typical college campus.


God, in His great love for you, has made you for a reason. He has made you to love and to give love, and the only way you will know how to do this is by learning from the One who created you. Now is a good time to be learning, because if you are called to marriage, it’s not unusual to find your future spouse among the many friends that you will meet in college.

Since God is love, and we are made in God’s image and likeness, we are created to both receive love and to give love like God—like the Trinity, in a total gift of self. And because we are in God’s image and likeness, we have dignity. All of us are given this gift, and that is why each one of us has a God-given beauty and attractiveness.

Love is what completes us, what makes us human in God’s image. In order to love like God does within the Trinity, we must make a sincere gift of ourselves. Man and woman are created to give themselves entirely to each other in marriage.

In marriage, God unites the man and woman together in a sacrament—the two become one flesh. On the altar, the man and woman give their lives to each other; in marital union, they make that gift real and visible by giving their bodies to each other. Isn’t that beautiful and amazing? This is why fidelity in marriage—and chastity outside of marriage—is so important.

So why aren’t all relationships between men and women as perfect as the first marriage, if that’s what God had in mind from the start? The problem is sin. The love that should have existed between man and woman is still there, but often it’s mingled with a lot of selfishness and self–love. There is misunderstanding, tension, and the sad reality of men and women using each other selfishly.

Sometimes we’re afraid that the thing that we want most, real love, doesn’t exist. Sometimes, we settle for a little pleasure that seems like love, because we think that the life-long love we desire isn’t out there. The good news is that this love is available to us, and that we can have this true love by following God’s plan for our lives, specifically with the virtue of chastity.

Chastity is the power to love others in the right way. It is about so much more than not having sex before marriage. Chastity is about loving the way that God has called us to love, with a pure heart and mind, without selfishness or lust.

Even though we know the right thing to do in the area of chastity, it is still very difficult to love in the right way. That’s where the virtue of self-control comes in. A virtue is a good habit: the more that you practice it, the easier it is to do the right thing. Self-control is putting your physical desires under the control of reason. This is key in the practice of chastity.

And it’s as important to guard our hearts as it is to guard our bodies. Have you ever found yourself getting too serious too quickly in a relationship? Does it ever seem like you fall for a guy or a girl, but it turns out they just wanted to “hang out?”

Chastity is all about freedom. You are not free when your reason doesn’t control your desires. We have souls and intellect. Our desires are to be under the control of our minds—under the control of reason. Then, we will be free to follow our desires or not, based on what we know is best for us.

Make boundaries for yourself. Know exactly where your line is. Commit to being faithful to these boundaries. Also, talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend about them. Talk about how you can keep them together—you can’t do it alone! Get a friend to help you be accountable. Also, think about what you will do when your boundaries are being challenged.

We usually flirt because we are trying to get attention. We are trying to get love, and, attention sometimes feels like love. Heavy flirting is also selfish—it can lead someone on and hurt them. It also can get you into bad situations. We want attention—we try to get it by flirting. But, love is all about giving!


It is a reality that most college students drink, or, at least, they face enormous pressures to drink. There are many different opinions and beliefs about drinking: Is drinking at all permissible? Is it okay to get drunk? Is it okay to get drunk from time to time, if it helps relieve stress? Or, is it alright to get drunk every night if it makes you feel good?

People will give many different answers to each one of these questions. What do you think? Before heading to college, take some time to examine these questions under the light of the Scriptures and Church teaching.

Did you know that you could fill 3,500 Olympic–size swimming pools with the amount of beer, wine, and liquor consumed by American college students each year? Did you also know that 80 percent to 90 percent of campus violence is linked to alcohol abuse? And that 90 percent of all rapes on college campuses involve alcohol?

But there are plenty of Bible passages about drinking, and we know that Jesus Himself drank wine. If the Bible says that drinking is okay, then how are all of these bad things associated with alcohol? The key element is drunkenness. It’s fine to drink legally and in moderation (so that you still are in full possession of your mind and your senses, so that you can make good decisions), but getting drunk is a sin. It’s abusing our bodies, souls, and the gift of alcohol. Sobriety is enjoying the gift of alcohol in the way that God intended.

Our spirit directs our actions. You know what you want to do and your body obeys. The Holy Spirit will guide us to make good decisions if we allow Him. But when we get drunk, we allow the “spirits of alcohol” to make our decisions for us. It comes down to a simple choice: do you want to be led by “spirits” (alcohol) or by the Holy Spirit? If we choose the Holy Spirit, we will have a full and happy life. The Spirit brings a life of peace and joy. Can abusing alcohol promise this much?

When you drink too much, you don’t have the full use of your brain, and, therefore, your reason is impaired. You can’t make good decisions when drunk! Everyone, no matter how well they can “hold their liquor,” has a biological reaction to alcohol which affects their decision-making abilities.

It is tough to have moderation in drinking. How can you have the willpower to drink moderately? You need temperance to do this.

Temperance is the virtue that controls our appetites for basic sense things: food, drink, and sex. Another word for temperance is self–control. It isn’t about not doing things, it is about placing your desires in the right order. It means that you are not being controlled by your basic sense desires, but that you put them under the control of your mind. If you have this control, this self–mastery, then you are free to do the right thing.

For example, imagine a person who loves ice cream and craves it day and night. If that person gave into their desires whenever they craved ice cream, they would be very unhealthy. So, they don’t always give in. They have the self–control to say no when they need to. That’s what temperance is all about: putting our bodily desires under the control of our reason. This gives us the freedom to be fully human—we don’t have to follow our sense desires like the animals do!

How do you do this? Build good habits. First, try to build a habit of discipline and self–control in all areas of your life. The more that you act on what you know you should do, the easier it will be to say no to other things in your life that will not lead you to happiness, like drunkenness.


We are called as Christians to imitate Christ. That’s what it means to be His followers. While we will not be perfect in what we do, we are to try to follow Jesus’s example and to do well what God has given us to do.

That is what excellence is: a superiority of virtue and a preeminence in accomplishment. We actually are able to be excellent with the help of God’s grace!

It’s easy to become a “human do–ing” instead of “human be–ing”. In order to see how we can do our best in everything, we must first look at how we can be our best, how we can be whom God has called us to be!

First of all, prayer. The most important thing is to work on your relationship with God, and don’t forget this if you go away to college. Daily prayer is so important. It cannot be over-emphasized!

Sacraments are also key. They are gifts that Jesus has given to us so that we may be closer to Him. Receive the Eucharist often, go to confession regularly. If you add the sacraments to an openness to be changed by Christ and spend time in daily prayer, God will do so much in your life!

God has a plan for each of us. It is a good plan that is going to lead us to happiness if we have patience and allow God to reveal it to us… in His own time. Right now, God has placed you in certain circumstances. He has entrusted you to a specific family, given you certain friends, and put you in a certain school. So He may lead you to college. Whatever your circumstances, God wants you to do everything to the best of your ability.

In addition to what God has called you to do now, there is a calling which God has for you in which to best live out your Christian life. This is called your “state in life.” You could be called to be a religious sister, to be married, or to be single. God already knows what your calling is. He’s known since “the foundation of the world.” Your

vocation is not something that you should worry about; it is God’s gift to you that He will reveal to you when the time is right.

Meanwhile, strive for excellence. At a faithful Catholic college, you’ll have plenty of help along the way.


This article was originally published in 2015.

FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, is a national outreach that meets college students where they are and invites them into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith. It was founded in 1998 at Newman Guide recommended Benedictine College.