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St. Peters Square

One Year Later, No Resolution on Brebeuf Scandal

Catholic schools across the nation are striving to keep their doors open, but Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis is not one of them… or is it?

There’s no question whether Brebeuf will open; students are scheduled to start in-person classes on Aug. 13. What’s unresolved is whether the school can be counted among Catholic schools. Brebeuf Jesuit certainly has proven itself unworthy of the label, as Archbishop Charles Thompson rightly declared last summer, because it refuses to dismiss a teacher in a same-sex civil marriage.

On Aug. 4, 2019, Brebeuf’s president, Jesuit Father Bill Verbryke, announced that the school had appealed to the Vatican, challenging Archbishop Thompson’s authority to determine whether the Jesuit-owned school could identity as Catholic. Thompson is accused of meddling in the internal operations of a wayward school.

Now, a year later, the stakes are getting higher. The Supreme Court has ruled that employers may not discriminate based on homosexuality, and so Catholic schools must fight to defend their First Amendment right to uphold moral standards for employees. But what will the Vatican say about those same standards?

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis requires that all teacher contracts designate “ministerial witnesses” who must “convey and be supportive of all teachings of the Catholic Church,” including its teaching on the “dignity of marriage as one man and one woman.” This complies faithfully with canon law, which requires Catholic school teachers to uphold Catholic morality in both teaching and practice.

Because of the policy, Cathedral High School in Indianapolis obediently dismissed its teacher Joshua Payne-Elliot, because he was in a same-sex civil marriage. But his partner, Layton Payne-Elliot, has continued to teach math at Brebeuf Jesuit, and the school refuses to conform to the Archdiocese’s rules. That’s after two years of patient dialogue led by Superintendent of Catholic Schools Gina Fleming.

“It was through much prayerful discernment over the course of that two years, and really, much conversation on what it truly means to be ministers of the faith and how we would uphold that in our Catholic schools, that led to the schools to make their own decisions as to whether they would wish to retain that Catholic identity,” Fleming said.

The Vatican likewise moves slowly and carefully, and this year it had the added difficulty of COVID. Nevertheless, a delayed ruling on Brebeuf’s appeal poses significant problems for the Church and for Catholic education.


Question of authority

For one thing, Archbishop Thompson’s authority has been challenged, which makes it more difficult for him to watch over his archdiocese, especially Catholic schools.

The details of the Brebeuf situation are more complicated than they look to the average Catholic and the secular media. The appeal concerns the managerial independence of Jesuit schools from the local bishop and whether Archbishop Thompson got too involved in a particular employment situation. But the appeal also casts a larger shadow on the Archbishop’s authority to enforce clear guidelines for Catholic schools, which is essential to his role as shepherd of his archdiocese.

According to Canon 803, “A Catholic school is understood as one which a competent ecclesiastical authority or a public ecclesiastical juridic person directs or which ecclesiastical authority recognizes as such through a written document. …no school is to bear the name Catholic school without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.”

And Canon 806 goes further: “The diocesan bishop has the right to watch over and visit the Catholic schools in his territory, even those which members of religious institutes have founded or direct. He also issues prescripts which pertain to the general regulation of Catholic schools; these prescripts are valid also for schools which these religious direct, without prejudice, however, to their autonomy regarding the internal direction of their schools.”

Did Archbishop Thompson properly regulate Catholic schools, or did he interfere too directly in the internal management of Brebeuf? It’s a blurry line. While the Congregation for Catholic Education decides, it has suspended Thompson’s decree removing the “Catholic” label from Brebeuf, leaving the public to wonder if he will be overruled.

But regardless how the Vatican views the particular circumstances of this case, it will be important that the Congregation makes it clear to everyone that both Canon 803 and Canon 806 are fully supported, without qualification.


Question of integrity

No less important is the Vatican’s support for moral standards for teachers, protecting students from scandal and ensuring that teachers witness to the Catholic faith.

According to Canon 803, “The instruction and education in a Catholic school must be grounded in the principles of Catholic doctrine; teachers are to be outstanding in correct doctrine and integrity of life” (Canon 803).

Not just satisfactory, without apparent scandal. Outstanding.

We live in a difficult time, when society and even some Catholics vigorously promote the lie that it’s acceptable to engage in all sorts of sins against chastity. Faithful Catholics strive to be compassionate with those who suffer from deep confusion. But there is no reconciling a Catholic school teacher’s sacred duty to form young people in the Catholic faith — which includes teaching and witnessing to moral behavior — and the very public, persistent offense of living in a same-sex relationship that is formally declared by the state.

Today the Vatican’s clear support for moral standards is all the more crucial, given the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, which forbids employers from considering homosexual or transgender status or behavior when making employment decisions.

Catholic schools must claim a religious freedom exemption from this ruling  —  at all costs! Yet, if Brebeuf is somehow permitted to persist in its scandal, it could undermine the renewal of faithful Catholic education. It will confuse school leaders about whether they should conform to Bostock or fight in court to protect the mission of Catholic education.

The only true path forward, as always, is fidelity to Catholic teaching. Catholic educators do this for the good of their students, for their families, for the Church, and for society. May the Brebeuf debacle prove an important lesson to all Catholics about the harm caused by scandal and the importance of leading young people on the path of sainthood.

us supreme court

A Fragile Peace for Catholic Education

Across the country this month, many Americans celebrated “wins” for Catholic schools and religious freedom at the Supreme Court—and rightly so. But it would be a mistake to believe that Catholic education is secure without substantial fortification.

In fact, the Catholic identity of our schools and colleges may be in far greater danger than it was before the summer began. There is much that Catholic educators can do to improve their prospects for the future, but it will require strong faith and fortitude.

This Court session proved that the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment still offer some cover for faithful education. But thanks in part to the Supreme Court’s Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia ruling issued in June—finding that employers may not discriminate based on homosexual or transgender status or behavior—Catholic educators must be prepared for the impact of secular and ideological devastation in the surrounding culture. The pressure on Catholic schools and colleges to compromise the Faith will be intense.

Moreover, any legal protection for Catholic education provided by this Court must be considered within the broader context of the Bostock ruling and how it impacts state laws, accreditation and membership in athletic associations. Some attorneys express optimism that
Catholic schools and colleges will win even greater protections under federal law following Bostock. It’s just as likely that our refuge, such as it is, may be temporary.

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine…

Supreme Court Defers to Canon Law in Catholic School Decision

There is an admirable concession to Catholic Church authority in the Supreme Court’s July 8 ruling on the “ministerial exception” for Catholic schools.

Justice Samuel Alito, in his majority opinion for Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Agnes Morrissey-Berru, defers to the authority of the Catechism and the Church’s canon law with regard to Catholic education.

In Guadalupe, the Court ruled that two Catholic school teachers, despite teaching secular subjects in addition to religion, are “ministers” of the Catholic faith whose employment is a religious matter that lies outside the jurisdiction of secular courts.

To justify this finding, Alito turns to the Catholic Church’s own requirements for Catholic school teachers:

In the Catholic tradition, religious education is ‘intimately bound up with the whole of the Church’s life.’ Catechism of the Catholic Church 8 (2d ed. 2016). Under canon law, local bishops must satisfy themselves that ‘those who are designated teachers of religious instruction in schools … are outstanding in correct doctrine, the witness of a Christian life, and teaching skill.’ Code of Canon Law, Canon 804, §2 (Eng. transl. 1998).

In other words, because Catholic school teachers must be faithful to Catholic teaching and witnesses to the Catholic faith by both word and example, their employment depends on criteria that only religious school leaders or church leaders can properly judge.

It would have been helpful if Alito also cited Canon 803, which applies to every teacher in a Catholic school — not only those who teach designated religion courses. It says much the same thing, which may support arguments that all Catholic school teachers should fall within the ministerial exception:

The instruction and education in a Catholic school must be grounded in the principles of Catholic doctrine; teachers are to be outstanding in correct doctrine and integrity of life. (Canon 803, §2)

Likewise Canon 810, regarding Catholic higher education, calls for professors “who besides their scientific and pedagogical qualifications are outstanding in integrity of doctrine and probity of life.”


Rightful authority

The Court’s willingness to respect religious authority over religious activities is fundamental to the First Amendment. Alito wrote:

In a country with the religious diversity of the United States, judges cannot be expected to have a complete understanding and appreciation of the role played by every person who performs a particular role in every religious tradition. A religious institution’s explanation of the role of such employees in the life of the religion in question is important.

Such deference was the core principles of the three-part test for applying the ministerial exception that was proposed to the Court in an amicus brief filed in February. It was authored by the outstanding attorneys of Alliance Defending Freedom and Troutman Sanders LLP on behalf of The Cardinal Newman Society, the Association of Classical Christian Schools, the Association for Biblical Higher Education, and William Jessup University. The brief argued:

(1) a “minister” is an employee who performs “religious functions”;

(2) the functions that the minister actually performs should be proven with evidence from the religious organization such as written organizational bylaws, position descriptions, and other such competent evidence; and

(3) the court should determine which functions are, in fact, “religious” by deferring to the religious organization’s own good-faith understanding of its own religion.

The Guadalupe ruling largely adopts these principles and offers additional clarity to religious employers. The Court relies on Catholic schools’ definition of an employee’s ministerial duties, as long as the employer shows “good faith” in seeking the protection of the ministerial exception.

What constitutes “bad faith” is something that will likely be litigated in future cases. One thinks of the many Catholic schools and colleges that have greatly secularized, yet claim religious freedom whenever it is convenient. If there is reasonable doubt about the religious identity of an employer or its sincerity about an employee’s religious duties — challenged by evidence that the employee does not in fact do what is stated in a position description or other employment document — then courts might restrict application of the ministerial exception.

The amicus brief cites the 1971 case Tilton v. Richardson, in which four Catholic universities were found to provide a primarily “secular education,” because religion did not “permeate” the coursework and was not promoted to students. For 27 years, the Newman Society has urged such institutions to strengthen their Catholic identity, and now their ability to claim the ministerial exception may depend on it.


Some schools need not apply

The Court’s ruling rests on whether an employee is a “teacher of religion” and therefore a minister of the faith.

This should be relatively easy for a faithful Catholic school or college, where the Catholic faith enters into all studies and teachers are required to be strong witnesses to the faith. It may even be possible to apply the ministerial exception to non-teachers — including school administrators, coaches, guidance counselors and support staff — if they are also expected teach religion by their words and witness, while advancing the Church’s mission of evangelization through Catholic education.

However, the ministerial exception further separates weak Catholic schools and colleges from faithful Catholic education. Only schools and colleges that intentionally form students in the faith are likely to gain broad protection from employment lawsuits. Secularized schools are more vulnerable than ever, if they fail to require teachers to catechize and uphold Catholic teaching.

Ultimately it is unlikely that any Catholic school or college will be entirely protected from the Supreme Court’s Bostock ruling and state laws adding homosexuality and gender identity to nondiscrimination provisions. The lawsuits, government coercion and social pressure to compromise the faith are only increasing the threats to Catholic education.

As before, the best protection for Catholic education is to be faithfully, thoroughly and consistently Catholic and to ensure that all school or college policies are firmly tied to Catholic teaching. In this way, a school or college is prepared to go to court to claim its natural and First Amendment rights.


This article first appeared at The National Catholic Register.

Maria Schmidt

Extraordinary Teens Love the Eucharist, Catholic Education

Wow! Thank God for hopeful signs, even in the darkest hours.

I just read the most extraordinary, heart-warming testimonies by teenage Catholics who are in love with Jesus in the Eucharist. They refuse to succumb to secularism, and they are unwilling to attend colleges that fail to embrace his Real Presence with confidence and reverence.

Each year The Cardinal Newman Society invites high school students to submit essays for a scholarship contest, and this year’s topic was especially timely. The students were asked to write about the following, even as they were shut out from public Masses during the COVID lockdown:

“A recent Pew Research study found that only 26 percent of self-professed Catholics under the age of 40 believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. In light of this finding, why do you think that it is important to attend a faithful Catholic college?”

Maria Schmidt of Providence Academy in La Crosse, Wisconsin, is proudly among the minority of believing Catholics. In her winning essay, she proclaims that the “Eucharist is the greatest Sacrament — the entirety of Jesus.” And she blames poor catechesis for the fact that so many of her peers do not understand.

Catholics should face the crisis of faith “with a renewed commitment to strong Catholic education and faith formation,” Schmidt argues. She will take her $5,000 scholarship this year to Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida, with the possibility of renewed scholarships in subsequent years, generously provided by the University.

Schmidt chose Ave Maria, because she wants to study psychology and theology at a faithful Catholic college. Studies in psychology at Ave Maria are “carried out in conversation with philosophical and theological insights into the human person,” which is not possible at a secular college and potentially dangerous at a Catholic college that does not guarantee orthodoxy.

“A good education helps form the whole person, laying down proper philosophical principles necessary for the pursuit of truth in all its classes and activities,” Schmidt writes.

Outside the classroom, Schmidt hopes for a strong Christian formation. “The influence of one’s companions, most importantly in the still-formative years of young adulthood, should not be overlooked. People are social creatures and will often think like those with whom they spend the most time.”

There is no better place than a faithful Catholic college to find good role models and faithful peers. The spiritual opportunities are plentiful, often providing access to multiple priests and religious, Mass and Confession throughout the week, celebration of religious feast days, pastoral counseling, and more.

Ave Maria offers perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during the academic year, and many students are grateful for the opportunity, even if they never spent time in Adoration before college. Schmidt is also looking forward to learning more about the Extraordinary Form Latin Mass, which is offered three days each week on campus.

Exposing young people to beautiful, reverent liturgy, Eucharistic adoration and authentic Catholic education can go a long way toward restoring belief in the Eucharist. Schmidt reminds us that the crisis of faith in our country and in the world is “not unprecedented.”

“Like the monks of Cluny Abbey who saved the faith of Europe in the tenth century, let us first reform ourselves through strong Catholic education and spiritual nourishment,” she writes. “That is the first step towards the reform of the crisis, and another of many steps toward heaven.”

Her full essay is posted online here. May God bless Maria and all her fellow students at faithful Catholic colleges, as they prepare for the fall and get ready to embark on exciting journeys of faith, fun and learning.

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

Maria Schmidt describes her college search:

While my search for a major was relatively easy, my search for a college would have been insurmountable without The Newman Guide. With about 197 professed Catholic colleges in the U.S, it would have been nearly impossible for me to find an authentically Catholic college that was just right for me. Thankfully, The Newman Guide did all the hard work for me, excluding the schools that are only nominally Catholic, and providing a detailed analysis of the fifteen U.S. residential colleges that make the cut.

With such a comprehensive and trustworthy list available, I did not have to waste my time considering schools which would only dampen my hopes and threaten my faith. Instead, I could focus my attention searching for the college that best fits my needs and expectations.

Schmidt’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, including Ave Maria University, 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.

This article first appeared at The National Catholic Register.

Pope Saint John Paul II

Theology of the Body for Schoolchildren

If ever there was a time to teach young people about human nature and our common human dignity, it’s now.

They need to know that race, sex and their very lives are willed by God. They need to know that marriage and family are also willed by God, and that the collapse of the family has contributed to many of the social ills that are on display today.

The timing is right, then, for newly published educational standards that help schools teach St. John Paul II’s “theology of the body” in a progression from kindergarten through eighth grade. They help transmit to students a “vision of the human person according to God’s loving design,” and Catholic education is uniquely situated to teach it.

“It’s a gamechanger for someone to be deeply convinced of their personal self-worth, dignity and purpose, knowing themself to be infinitely and unconditionally loved by God and called to live in a communion of persons in his image,” state the new “Standards for Christian Anthropology,” co-authored by Dr. Joan Kingsland of Ruah Woods Press and Dr. Denise Donohue of The Cardinal Newman Society.

“This self-knowledge includes respecting and revering oneself, others and above all God. It affects the choices made by young people about how they will treat others and expect others to treat them.”

The standards explore the foundations of personal identity and are a key solution to the problems we face in society right now. Just consider, what if every student in Catholic schools across the country was taught authentic Christian anthropology? How would society look different, if graduates of Catholic education could clearly articulate and defend the value of every human person?

“In recent years there’s been a surge in the ever-widening gap between the mainstream take on the identity of the human person versus a Christian vision rooted in Sacred Scriptures,” explain Dr. Donohue and Dr. Kingsland. Gender ideology, racial division, pornography, premarital sexual activity, contraception and abortion are just some of the challenges facing Catholic educators, and increasingly they are pressured to compromise Catholic teaching.

Understandably, then, many Catholic education leaders welcome the standards.

They “provide much-needed guidance for more deeply understanding who we are as human beings, made in the image of God,” says David McCutchen, coordinator of the office for catechetical formation in the Diocese of Toledo.

“These standards present, at age-appropriate moments, the foundational truths upon which an authentically Christian view of the human person must be built,” he continues. “The burning questions and confusing issues of our time regarding human dignity, sexuality and gender can be effectively addressed only in light of these fundamental truths.”

Jill Annable, assistant superintendent of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Grand Rapids, agrees. “It is a difficult task to articulate the Catholic worldview of Theology of the Body, yet the Standards for Christian Anthropology provide us key teachings for each grade level that will be understandable to families and assist teachers in critical aspects of this formation in a logical sequence,” she says.

Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago, adds that the standards help ensure that “students are able to tangibly uphold the sanctity of human life.”

Ultimately, the goal of an authentic Catholic education is to form students with the foundation they need for this life and the one to come. Given the recent struggles in our society, it is imperative that young people know their own worth and the dignity of every human being they encounter.

This article first appeared at The National Catholic Register.

Good Seed: Standards for Christian Anthropology Released

Two weeks ago, on a video call from Rome to Florida, Dr. Joan Kingsland and Dr. Denise Donohue wrapped up a most important project: educational standards for grades K-8 based on St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body teachings. The Standards for Christian Anthropology provide a solid basis for incrementally transmitting a vision of the human person according to God’s loving design.

But the significance of the completion date, May 18, did not strike the authors until later. It was the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Paul II!

The new standards’ simple yet robust framework provides the guidance that has been sought by educators for some time now. The Standards for Christian Anthropology support the curricula published by Ruah Woods Press and complement the Catholic Curriculum Standards published by The Cardinal Newman Society, which cover English language arts, history, scientific topics, and mathematics. The new standards—a collaboration of the two organizations—situate the person in proper context as son or daughter of God, heir to the Eternal Kingdom, and brother or sister to all. Anthony Esolen, Catholic writer and social commentator, said, “If you don’t get man right, you don’t get education right.” The Standards for Christian Anthropology lay the groundwork for “getting man right,” a foundation for other subject areas.

Although this work was begun in 2016, its completion was inspired by the most recent document from the Congregation for Catholic Education, Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education (2019), which addresses the current identity crisis affecting many classrooms today. The Vatican document was generated to present Christian anthropology and to encourage institutions of higher learning and research centers to provide professional development and programs for educators. The Standards for Christian Anthropology are a direct response to this call.

More fundamental than sex ed, Theology of the Body goes deeper, to the heart of personal identity. “It’s a gamechanger for someone to be deeply convinced of their personal self-worth, dignity and purpose, knowing themselves to be infinitely and unconditionally loved by God and called to live in a communion of persons in his image. This self-knowledge includes respecting and revering oneself, others and above all God. It affects the choices made by young people about how they will treat others and expect others to treat them, including in the area of sexuality. It’s a unique, theological approach to Christian anthropology that lays out the pathway to a happy, deeply fulfilled life.” (Introduction to Standards for Christian Anthropology, 2020).

Although these standards were created based on the completed work of Ruah Woods’ ROOTED K-12 curriculum, they also provide guidelines for other publishers and programs. Existing programs might find that their curricula already align to the Standards, or that this would be possible with minor modifications. It is a framework that hopefully will complement already solid religious education standards chosen by Catholic schools and will touch the hearts of young people. Knowing that they are created in the image of the Triune God and are called to live in communion, they will learn that fulfillment comes through a sincere gift-of-self.

View and download the Standards for Christian Anthropology.

Register for an upcoming webinar that will explore the Standards.

For more information, contact Dr. Joan Kingsland ( or Dr. Denise Donohue (


Into the Light: Webinar with Patrick Reilly

On May 31, 2020, Newman Society President Patrick Reilly presented a webinar with the Institute of Catholic Culture entitled, “Into the Light.”

The webinar explored the exciting renewal of truth and fidelity happening in Catholic education today, and also discussed St. John Henry Newman’s “Idea of a University,” his innovations in Catholic secondary education, and how Catholic educators are once again taking up Newman’s fight against “liberalism in religion.”

The Cardinal Newman Society was thrilled to help arrange this special event. A recording of the webinar can be viewed here:


Thomas More College of Liberal Arts

Distance Learning Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

It’s been a strange and difficult semester for Catholic schools and colleges. Our institutions offer a unique social, spiritual, and intellectual formation that depends on personal presence, but students have been exiled from our classrooms, chapels, and athletic fields.

For Catholic educators who have struggled to build on the strong relationships formed in the first three quarters of the school year, the serious limitations of distance education are obvious. And as the academic year draws to a close, it’s a good time to consider how the sudden and temporary change from a traditional classroom education to distance education may have affected student formation.

But before we do so, we would be remiss not to recognize one very important benefit to the temporarily forced distance between educator and student: this experience of exile has surely helped our families and educators better appreciate the amazing gift of an “in-person” Catholic education. We yearn for it, because we know that it is good, and we realize how much we love what has been taken away from us.

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine…

Courts Weigh Future of Catholic Education

This month the Little Sisters of the Poor returned to the U.S. Supreme Court, once again defending their right to practice the Catholic Faith by refusing to provide for contraceptives in their health insurance plan.

This is a stark reminder that even years later the Obama administration’s assault on religious freedom continues to impact religious organizations. And other serious threats have since emerged.

Catholic educators especially are nervously awaiting court rulings that could have a severe impact on schools and colleges. That’s scary, but it’s also true that each case presents a new opportunity to re-establish the rights of religious educators under the First Amendment, should judges be so inclined.

Now is a great time for your prayers!

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine…


These College Grads Are Saving Lives

Light shines bright in the darkness! One highlight among the COVID doldrums has been the heroism of so many Catholics and others in our nation’s hospitals and doctor’s offices.

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

In particular, I often receive updates from the faithful Newman Guide colleges, and they have been full of stories about valiant alumni on the frontlines. These men and women are putting their lives on the line for the good of their fellow man, and they draw strength from their years of Catholic formation in faith, truth and virtue.

One such hero is Dr. Thomas Heyne, a graduate of the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas. He is treating patients with COVID-19 at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“Caring for patients suffering from COVID-19 has been challenging,” he says. “It takes courage, charity, patience and endurance — even simply wearing those N-95 masks for prolonged periods is physically painful.”

That’s all the more reason that Heyne is “grateful for UD for helping to foster those virtues — first imbued by my parents — while I was in my first years as an adult.”

“My four years at the University of Dallas were some of the happiest, most positively forming years of my life.” He explains:

First, the premedical formation in the sciences was quite strong, and helped to open the way to a good medical school and residency program…

Second, the academic habits that I learned at UD served me well in medical school and beyond. All students are required to complete a large cadre of humanities courses in the core curriculum. These humanities courses honed my skills at reading critically and writing convincingly.

Third, the humanistic virtues that were inculcated at UD have helped me be a more compassionate physician. I was blessed to have friends who cared about their faith, about living a life of virtue (including the practice of charity). But also, friends that were normal and fun. I learned how to socialize and have fun (e.g., after finishing exams) in a way that was healthy and wholesome.

Finally, Heyne credits extracurricular activities, such as spring break trips to Mexico and student leadership positions, for helping him develop as a person and even discern his calling to medicine.

Another doctor responding to COVID-19 is Dr. Mark Kissinger, medical director for Jefferson County, Ohio, which includes his alma mater Franciscan University of Steubenville. The county has not seen a large surge in patients, but Kissinger’s days are occupied with “disaster planning, tracking patients with the disease and educating the public.”

Kissinger says his education is impacting the way he does his work. “My Franciscan education has taught me to remember that we are dealing with people, not statistics and cases. As such, all people deserve respect and dignity as God’s own.”

Claire Pedulla, a registered nurse in an intensive care unit at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, discovered her calling to medicine while on a Benedictine College mission trip to Saint Lucia. She told her alma mater that the words of one of her professors have helped her greatly during this difficult time: “You are God’s earthly hands, eyes, ears and words. You are caring for his most vulnerable children. Show your servant heart for his work.”

Katie Ellefson, a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California, is now a nurse in a Virginia hospital, where her entire floor was turned into a COVID unit. She explained to the College that nurses are often the “only people who are physically coming into the room to check on these patients,” and they are “generally more lonely, scared, and anxious than our typical patients.”

“Being able to be the person who can go in there and cheer them up and make their stay even just a little better has honestly been such a gift,” she says.

Surely her patients are at least as grateful for Ellefson and her Christian heroism! The work of these graduates and so many others is a great blessing and inspiration, and it reflects well on the faithful Catholic education that they received.

May God bless all who are keeping us healthy in these dangerous times, and may he protect them as well.

This article first appeared at The National Catholic Register.