Successful Businessman Says Faithful Catholic College ‘Changed My Life’

Mike McGrath
Mike McGrath

All too often, students go off to college and lose their faith on campus — but the opposite is true in the case of Mike McGrath, who is forever grateful for the influence of a faithful Catholic college on his life.

After spending a semester at a state university in New York, Mike McGrath was preparing to join the Army. An ear infection delayed his plans — during which time he went on a retreat, met a family associated with Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, N.H., and ended up enrolling in the College.

McGrath immersed himself in the Great Books curriculum provided by Magdalen College, which is recommended in The Newman Guide, and was “blown away” by the education. He remembers being introduced to Euclidean geometry for the first time, and all the subject areas that are “parallel paths to open your mind to the truth of things.”

“My whole perspective on life, on what was really true completely opened up,” he shares, noting how the students went to Mass, classes, meals, activities, and study together.

Growing up, McGrath attended mostly public schools and was raised in a nominally Catholic family. He entered Magdalen as an “un-catechized” young adult, but that quickly changed. At Magdalen, he was immersed deeply in the faith, and exposed to beautiful and reverent liturgy.

“When you go to confession regularly, when you go to Mass daily, when you’re praying the rosary, your life is going to get great,” he explains, noting the infusion of grace from the sacraments. “It’s night and day between who I was as a person before and after attending Magdalen College.”

“Magdalen College has a rich history of liturgy and music,” explains McGrath. Even though he studied vocal performance at the state university, he said that he never delved deep into the music in the way that he did at Magdalen College. At the state university, “we never asked the question, ‘what is music?’” and he was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to an “incredible repository of music” at Magdalen.

“My life is so rich now because of my Catholic faith,” McGrath continues. “Magdalen College played a significant role— it changed my life.”

The College altered McGrath’s life in nearly every way, including propelling him into his successful career of the past 20-plus years in the software sales industry. Through the College’s Socratic style classes, McGrath learned “how to listen,” which is essential to becoming a business leader.

“You listen to the master thinkers, and then you discuss the truth of that work whether it’s Aquinas, Aristotle or Nietzsche,” says McGrath about the courses at Magdalen. “When you stop talking and start listening, you learn so much.”

He also gained hands-on leadership experience. “Because it was a small campus and a small community, there were a lot of opportunities for leadership.”

In McGrath’s experience and as countless studies now show, employers today are desperately in need of liberal art graduates who are “well-rounded.” The ideal candidates are “versatile” and don’t just know a particular subject area, but can “think critically, learn how to work within and lead a team, are strong writers, delegate tasks, listen, and grow organically in their career.”

Today, McGrath serves on the board at the Magdalen, and has two children who attend the College. He is excited about the changes Magdalen has made in recent years, the direction it’s headed, and its emphasis on “forming the whole human person.”

“Magdalen really helped me grow as a person,” McGrath says. “The students there today are afforded similar opportunities to lead, to grow in community, to grow in their faith, to grow as a human person.”

“The College will prepare students with the foundation they need to remain faithful and serve the Church and world in whatever capacity they’re called to.”

Katrina Gallic, Youth Rally

March for Life Leader: Catholic Education Instilled ‘Greater Respect’ for All Life

In 2017, Katrina Gallic was a senior at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D, who gave a beautiful speech at the March for Life Rally in Washington, D.C. After the speech, Gallic and her classmates had the honor of leading the March.

The year before, University of Mary students found themselves caught in massive snowstorm and stopped traffic on their way home from the March for Life. Their joyful witness while they waited on the bus garnered national media attention for the pro-life cause.

Today, Gallic works for the March for Life full-time. She credits her experience at the University of Mary and attending the March for Life with opening her heart to working in the pro-life movement. We are thankful for her time in responding to our questions as a part of our “Profiles in Faithful Catholic Education” series.

Newman Society: How did your education and experience at the University of Mary help prepare you to become a leader in the pro-life movement?

Katrina Gallic

Katrina Gallic: When students arrive at the University of Mary as freshmen, the first address they hear from President Monsignor Shea can be summarized by the phrase: “your life is not about you.” Your life, he explains, will only find fulfillment when it is given away in loving service to others. Each of us then has a distinct mission, a unique and necessary gift that only we can give, a gift that is not so much about what we do, but about who we are. I can say for my part that his message, which was repeated through all my years there, instilled in me a greater respect for each person’s life. No matter how small, no matter how seemingly “insignificant,” each person is a profound gift made in the image of God. And who is smaller, who is more seemingly “insignificant” than the little one in the womb? It was my experience traveling with the University of Mary students to the March for Life as a junior, and then leading the March for Life as a senior, that opened my heart to God calling me to serve Him by working full-time in the pro-life movement. I am profoundly grateful to the many, many people at the University of Mary who have so greatly impacted my life, and the lives of my classmates.

Newman Society: Can you tell us about the work you do today, and what excites you the most about it?

Katrina Gallic: Today, I am the Director of Development for the March for Life! That means I have the privilege of sharing the life-saving mission of the March for Life with pro-life people across the country and inviting them to join us in our mission. This is an exciting time for the pro-life movement and for the March for Life in particular. We are seeing passion for the cause of life building, as more eyes are opened to the horrible agenda of pro-abortion activists and politicians, and we have responded by bringing the inspirational power of the March for Life’s state march program to state capitals across the country. In 2020, we will march in Virginia on February 13th, in Connecticut on April 15th, and in Pennsylvania on May 18th. I’m excited to see the energy and positive impact that these local marches will bring to the pro-life movement at the state level!

Faithful Catholic Colleges March to ‘Defend Innocent Life’

“We journey to Washington D. C. together to defend innocent life, and we find ourselves greatly edified,” says Magdalena Danja, a senior at The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, N.H., about the College’s pilgrimage to the March for Life, taking place this Friday, January 24.

“It is a beautiful thing to see so many young people from all over the country coming together for the same purpose, and to experience the camaraderie created by a sleepless night on the road, after which we sing and pray our way up Capitol Hill, banners held high, testifying to the joy which springs from fighting for the true and the right,” she continues.

It certainly is a beautiful thing—many faithful Catholic colleges are going to great lengths to witness at this year’s March for Life. Thomas More College will be cancelling classes during the March, and other Catholic colleges recommended in The Newman Guide will be, too.

The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., cancelled classes for the first-time last year and is continuing the tradition this year, expecting more than 500 students to attend the March. Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., has cancelled classes during the March every year since its founding more than 40 years ago, so that its entire student body of nearly 500 students can attend.

Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, N.H., also cancels classes and offers travel scholarships for students to attend, and the new east coast campus of Thomas Aquinas College in Northfield, Mass., which opened this year, will cancel classes this Friday so that its entire student body can attend.

Some of the groups traveling the furthest distances, more than 1,000 miles, include Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla., Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., and the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. All three of the colleges will be bringing more than 200 students.

Students from Texas will be present as well. For the first time in several years, the University of Dallas in Irving, Tex., is organizing an official group of 44 students to attend the March, and 40 students—their largest group yet—from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Tex., are flying to Washington, D.C., for the event.

Three new college presidents will be leading groups to the March: Fr. David Pivonka, TOR, of Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, with 500 students; Fr. Peter Kucer, MSA, of Holy Apostles in Cromwell, Conn., with more than 100 seminarians, religious, students and faculty; and President Tim Collins of Walsh University in Canton, Ohio, with 100 students.

Many of the colleges visit historic and spiritually significant sites, such as the Holocaust Museum, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land to make the trip to Washington, D.C., into a pilgrimage.

More than 100 students, faculty and monks from Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., will be making a pilgrimage to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine before the March. A contingent from Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ontario, will be spending a couple days in D.C. surrounding the March. 

The day after the March for Life, colleges on the west coast will take part in the Walk for Life in San Francisco, Calif., including John Paul the Great Catholic University in Escondido, Calif., Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., and Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyo.

UMary students March for Life

Students Make History at the March for Life

Nearly every year of Simone Kelly’s life, she attended the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, California, with her family. As the president of her high school’s pro-life club, she was intimately involved in the planning of the trip.

This year, Kelly has a different but exciting project on her hands. As a sophomore at the recently opened east coast campus of Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) in Northfield, Massachusetts, Kelly volunteered to help plan the college’s first trip to the March for Life in the nation’s capital.

Classes are canceled at New England campus Jan. 24 so that the entire student body of 58 students, along with faculty, staff and families, can attend the March. TAC has thus joined other faithful Catholic colleges that cancel classes for the March for Life, including The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire, and the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Christendom has been doing so every year since the college’s founding, so that its entire student body can attend.

The TAC contingent will leave campus Thursday night and attend Mass, adoration and confession at a nearby parish before driving through the night to Washington, D.C. Kelly says that everyone on campus is “super excited” for the upcoming trip to defend the unborn, noting that all students raised money to help fund the trip.

Since there are no juniors or seniors on the new campus, Kelly plays a leadership role as a sophomore. Part of the reason why she transferred to the new campus is so that she could help “bring traditions” from TAC’s home campus in California, founded in 1971, while also developing “new traditions.”

The March for Life is a new tradition that Kelly is eager to organize so that “in the years to come, the details will be worked out.” At the west coast campus, the Walk for Life tradition, taking place this year on Jan. 25, is well-established — students from the college have participated in the Walk every year since the event was founded.

For Kelly, the opportunity to make a stand for the unborn makes sense with the “liberating” education she is receiving. “My education is forming me to learn the truth, know the truth and defend the truth,” says Kelly. “Attending the March for Life allows me to live out what I’m learning.”

Other Catholic colleges are making history at this March for Life, too. For the first time in many years, the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, is making an official trip to the March for Life.

“Many students have traveled the 1,300 miles on their own in recent years,” says Mary Kate Tomassi, treasurer of the Crusaders for Life Club, but this year is different. “We have 44 students officially going with UD to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life this year.”

“We have all been working hard to figure out the logistics for this trip, get approval, and fundraise. Thanks to many generous donors, and one in particular who wishes to remain anonymous who matched nearly $8,000 in gifts, we are able to make this important trip,” she continues.

Making the long journey is not for the faint of heart – and students will miss two days of classes. But Tomassi believes it’s important to “stand up” and “witness to the nearly 62 million lives lost and the 62 million families torn apart since 1973” due to abortion.

Beyond the witness of Thomas Aquinas College and the University of Dallas, there are other records being set by faithful Catholic colleges at this year’s March.

Some of the groups traveling the farthest distance with the greatest numbers of students include Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. They will both be traveling more than 1,000 miles to the March, with approximately 250 and 200 students, respectively.

Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, is sending approximately 500 students. A junior at the university, Kyle Taggart, believes that “we have a serious obligation to do everything in our power to fight legalized abortion” given the “gravity of the abortion issue.” His fellow classmates seem to be taking that message to heart.

History will be made at this year’s March for Life, in no small part due to the efforts of faithful Catholic colleges. Let’s pray that this witness leads to a change of minds and hearts — and the law — in our country, and that ultimately the lives of all unborn children will be protected.

This article first appeared at The National Catholic Register.

These Catholic Colleges Are Pro-Life, Pro-Woman

This year’s theme for the March for Life, “Pro-Life is Pro-Woman,” is likely to resonate with the thousands of college students who will travel to Washington, D.C.—especially those from America’s most faithful Catholic colleges.

For decades, radical pro-abortion feminism has dominated higher education. But at the colleges recommended in The Newman Guide for their strong Catholic identity, students find a much healthier respect for the dignity of women and children.

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine…

Lauren Merz

Pro-Life Leader: Strong Catholic Education Can ‘Turn the Culture’

Lauren Merz
Lauren Merz

Strong Catholic education is essential to the pro-life movement, because it “equips the next generations of leaders — of saints! — who are so desperately needed to restore all things in Christ,” says one of the nation’s pro-life leaders.

Lauren Merz was recently named vice president of strategic partnerships at one of the most effective national pro-life organizations today, Live Action. She is gearing up for the March for Life and for her presentation about changing hearts and minds about abortion the following day at the National Pro-Life Summit, a gathering of more than 3,000 students and adults.

The Cardinal Newman Society asked Merz to explain the impact of her education at Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., which is recommended for its strong Catholic identity in The Newman Guide. We are grateful for her time as a part of our “Profiles in Faithful Catholic Education” series.

Newman Society: How did Christendom College help prepare you for the work you do today?

Lauren Merz: Truly the most important thing Christendom College did to prepare me for my work in the pro-life movement was to strengthen me in the Faith and to fall in love with the Church, and with Christ.

Christendom refined my analytical and writing skills I now use every single day in my work. The very rigorous curriculum and expectations pushed me to pursue excellence in how to think, strategize and communicate. I remember crying over papers and the many hours poring over my studies — they were so challenging, but so worth the effort.

Christendom also taught me how to learn, how to study. I carry the love for study and the search for wisdom with me always. I am constantly reading, learning and studying in my work and personal life, constantly seeking wisdom from those who know better than I, constantly seeking the Truth.

The professors at Christendom are also such beacons of virtue, examples of love and true pursuers of wisdom. Professors and Drs. Mike Brown and John Cuddeback instilled in me a love for philosophy and pursuing the virtues. The essentials we learned about human nature and ethics have been fundamental to me, as I help form Live Action’s messaging and strategy with our team. The understanding of human dignity, morality and the Church’s teachings I formed at Christendom are the roots of the pro-life work I do today. 

I was also lucky enough to have a work-study in the Student Life Office for all four years (and full-time job for two summers!) of college. Tambi Spitz was the associate dean at the time, and her inspirational mentorship was invaluable. She taught me how to organize my time and prioritize many tasks at once, manage a team, how to be assertive and honest, yet kind, merciful and loving. Her belief in me that I could do great things and that I was a natural leader and her constant pouring into me truly helped set me up for success.

I volunteered with the Student Activities Council on campus for three years, giving me the event planning and execution experience that I didn’t know I would love and need for my future career.

I served as a Resident Assistant for a year and a half during my time at Christendom, building my leadership abilities. I now serve as one of the top three executives at a national pro-life nonprofit, so those skills are used every day along with all the others.

I also have to give a shout out to Professor Mike Brown for preparing me for the work I do today. I had him for Philosophy 101 (so I have him to “blame” for my major choice!) and he was my thesis director. I will never forget a conversation I had with him during my last week of finals right before I graduated. He stopped me in the parking lot and said “Lauren, what are you going to do with your life after college? You have so many talents, you have a mission to use them for. Go find it!” It really stuck with me that I had a mission I was made for from that moment on. I sought out to find it. And here I am. My deepest gratitude, Professor Brown.

Lauren Merz
Lauren Merz (middle) at her graduation from Christendom College in 2010.

Newman Society: How did your time at the college help strengthen you for the spiritual battle involved in pro-life efforts?

Lauren Merz: Most importantly, Christendom instilled an understanding of the power of prayer and a true, strong, deep, personal relationship with our dear Lord Jesus.

Before going to college, I didn’t know adoration was a regular thing Catholics did. I only remember going during Lent growing up. The regular, monthly holy hours promoted and encouraged for all to attend moved me to fall in love with our Lord in the Eucharist. My time in adoration since then has been truly life-changing. I prayed and discerned my current job in adoration. I love visiting Jesus at St. Agnes Perpetual Adoration Chapel in Arlington, Va., where I live, it’s one of the most peaceful places on earth!

Christendom also instilled in me a deep love of the Sacraments, of course, most especially Confession and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Christendom had one of the most beautifully said liturgies I had attended until then — reverent and full of the majesty and mystery which are so essential. I also become comfortable with going to Confession regularly for the first time at Christendom. Everyone talked about how they needed to go — and they went! The example of my peers and teachers impacted me so much in this.

Today, I am completely dependent upon the generous Grace of God to do this work in the fight to defend the preborn. Among all the cultural battles we are facing today, the spiritual battle is especially strong on the pro-life front. We are fighting such a horrible evil. Some days I can’t even believe that I have to fight this battle — that we are actually killing our own children in such a beautiful, bountiful country and that I have to fight to stop it. It’s mind-boggling and gut-wrenching. It’s only by God’s generous grace and mercy through the Sacraments that I am able to continue the fight every day. Without Him, the evil is too great and I would have quit long ago.

Newman Society: How can strong Catholic education benefit the pro-life movement?

Lauren Merz: Strong Catholic education doesn’t just benefit the pro-life movement — it is essential to the pro-life movement.

The Catholic Church unabashedly upholds and defends the inherent dignity of the human person from fertilization to natural death. It is always the first defender of our dear brothers and sisters in the womb. Without passing down and instilling the wisdom of the ages, the Tradition of the Catholic Church, through Catholic education, our entire culture is lost, and it will be impossible to win the fight to end the killing of children in the womb.

With strong Catholic education, we will turn our culture around and save souls. Strong Catholic education equips the next generations of leaders — of saints! — who are so desperately needed to restore all things in Christ. And who is more desperate in our culture right now than the most vulnerable little ones in the womb at odds against their own mothers?

Timmerie Geagea

Catholic Radio Host Learned How to Tackle Tough Topics at Faithful Catholic College

Given the secularism in our culture and relativism all too evident on college campuses today, Timmerie Geagea knew “hands down” that she wanted to attend an authentic Catholic college. Now, equipped with her faithful Catholic education, Timmerie faces the culture head-on and tackles tough topics from a Catholic perspective on her nationally syndicated radio show.

Timmerie attended John Paul the Great Catholic University in Escondido, Calif., which is recommended in The Newman Guide, where she “fell in love with studying theology” and also had the unique opportunity to “fuse together communications, philosophy and theology.” She credits her faithful Catholic education with helping prepare her for her ministry and for her life, including her marriage to a fellow alumnus.

“Close proximity to the sacraments, my formation in theology, and my education in business and communications equipped me not only for my apostolate but most importantly for a life oriented toward the Cross of Christ,” says Timmerie about her undergraduate years at JPCatholic. “I sharpened my tools of communication, and I learned to appeal to the deepest desires of the human heart — authentic love and, ultimately, God.”

On her radio show, Trending with Timmerie, which is nationally syndicated every Sunday on Relevant Radio and is also downloaded internationally as a podcast, she discusses topics such as gender identity, abortion and pornography. She believes that it’s important to tackle controversial topics, especially those related to human sexuality.

“Society is parched for relationships that express authentic love and ultimately the sacrificial love of Christ,” Timmerie explains. “Our culture and the breakdown of the family doesn’t prepare people for sacrificial love anymore.”

Lamenting that many in the culture are “miserable today,” Timmerie is eager to share why there is reason for hope.

“Catholicism has the healing balm for the festering wounds of the culture that is stuck in sexual ambiguity and promiscuity, as they look for love,” she explains. “This brokenness is just a sign of the need for God the Father in our lives.”

“People need to see that faith makes sense,” she continues. “They need to remember that God transcends all human reality and relationships. By looking to the Cross, we know how to love.”

To find strength for her work, Timmerie strives to stay close to the sacraments, a devotion that was fostered during her undergraduate years at JPCatholic.

During college, Timmerie attended daily Mass, but she wanted even more time with Our Lord. She took the initiative to organize students so that daily Eucharistic Adoration could be put in place. “This devotion to the Eucharist equips me even now, as I am exposed every day to the horrors our culture faces through sexual promiscuity, abortion, the breakdown of the family and the confusion and ambiguity [of] gender ideology,” she explains.

Through the “grace of God” and her “faith,” Timmerie can see the “hope and beauty” that is alive within the “brokenness of the culture.” Timmerie’s faithful Catholic education has equipped her to share that message with a global audience.

For Mother of Ten, Catholic Education’s Impact ‘Immeasurable’

For one Catholic family living in California, faithful Catholic education has been a top priority and a great blessing.

“We have always wanted our children to seek truth. We have always wanted them to know ‘why’ the Catholic Church teaches what she does. We have encouraged questions, questions and more questions,” explains Elisa Del Curto, a wife and mother of ten children.

When considering colleges, the Del Curto family looks for environments that foster the “virtuous life and discernment of God’s will.”

“We realize that once our children leave our home, our job of parenting takes on a new dimension. We will always be there to guide them. However, they will now make decisions that will affect their lives, careers and their very souls,” she explains.

It is for that reason that the Del Curto family has turned to The Newman Guide, which recommends faithful Catholic colleges. “We have told our kids they can choose from the list of faithful colleges for undergraduate studies… We have never expected these faithful colleges on the list to be perfect, nothing can be. But what we have found in the Guide has been beyond helpful in aiding our children in their quest for truth.”

To find the right college for each student, Del Curto explains how her children looked in The Newman Guide for which of the colleges offered programs, majors and activities that they were interested in. Then, they studied the college’s website, called and emailed for more information, and considered various financial aid packages and scholarships.

So far, six of the Del Curto children have attended a variety of Newman Guide colleges: Ave Maria University, Benedictine College, Catholic Distance University, The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, University of Dallas and University of Mary. Del Curto prays that her younger children will also have the opportunity to attend Newman Guide colleges.

“We have found that many of the colleges in the Guide offer liberal arts cores in their programs no matter the major,” she says. “This makes perfect sense, because truly what good would it be if a person gains success in their career, but does not know how to live their life as a Christian?”

Several of the students have graduated with top honors from their respective colleges. When asked about what kind of impact the education has had on her children and their family, Del Curto says gratefully that it’s been “immeasurable.”

Attending faithful Catholic colleges has “continued them on the journey we began so long ago as parents,” says Del Curto. “They can articulate, they can debate, they can enlighten those around them and also have been blessed with the God given ability to lead others to Christ.”

“Their lives are much richer, relationships deeper and they seem more spiritual than we could have imagined,” she continues. “God truly has His hand on their lives. Having the option of a faithful Catholic college to attend, to grow, to learn, to mature has been an answer to much prayer.”

Catholic College Scholarship Contest Invites Applications

The Cardinal Newman Society is pleased to announce its fourth annual Essay Scholarship Contest. The winning essay writer will be awarded $5,000 toward the cost of attending a college recommended in The Newman Guide in the fall of 2020.

In addition, several Newman Guide colleges have agreed to supplement the Newman Society’s scholarship with additional $5,000 grants to the winner over three additional years.  

All of the details about the Contest can be found at this link: https://newmansoc.org/EssayContest

The $5,000 scholarship is made possible thanks to the generosity of Joe and Ann Guiffre, strong advocates of faithful Catholic education.

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

The contest is open to high school seniors in the United States who sign up for the Newman Society’s Recruit Me program, explore the Newman Society’s tips for navigating the college search, and check out the recommended colleges in The Newman Guide during their college search.

The topic for this year’s contest is to reflect, in 500-700 words, on the following question: “A recent Pew Research study found that only 26% 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?”

Essays will be judged by how well they demonstrate appreciation for faithful Catholic education, as well as the quality of the writing.

Last year, the Newman Society announced Landis Lehman, a homeschooled student from Lucas, Texas, as the winner of the Society’s third annual Essay Scholarship Contest. She received a $5,000 scholarship toward her education at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. She may also be eligible for additional $5,000 grants from Benedictine College.

In her winning essay, Lehman related how she he searched for a college that “will prepare me not only for a career, but also for a life as a faithful follower of Christ.” And rejecting the moral laxity that is typical of campus life, Lehman looked for a college that “helps me, not hinders me, towards my ultimate goal of Heaven.”

Lehman described how a faithful Catholic education will form her in mind, body and soul. She wrote:

The education I will receive will cultivate in me a love of truth that will stay with me long after graduation. Likewise, the godly relationships that I will forge with the inspiring students around me will become an integral part of my adult life. Most importantly, at a college where every aspect of life is pervaded by a devoutly Catholic culture, I will be provided with a foundation that will inspire me to strive for holiness every day.

Ultimately, Lehman believed that “choosing to attend a faithful Catholic college is a decision that will affect more than my next four years—it will influence me for life.”

Lehman’s entire essay can be read here.

Last year, essays were submitted from students in 44 states, who together have applied to every U.S. residential college that is recommended in The Newman Guide.

Questions about this year’s Essay Scholarship Contest can be directed to Programs@CardinalNewmanSociety.org.

Curtis Martin

FOCUS Leader: ‘Renewal of Catholic Colleges is Critical’

The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) is a nationwide ministry to students at mostly secular colleges. But seeds for the project were planted while founder and president Curtis Martin studied theology at a faithful Catholic college, and the first FOCUS chapter was launched at another Catholic college. Both colleges today are recommended in The Newman Guide for their strong Catholic identity.

“My wife, Michaelann, and I were blessed to come to Franciscan University of Steubenville and study under Dr. Scott Hahn, to learn how to teach the faith and reach the world,” says Martin.

“The teachers I studied under and the students I studied with became the friends and partners who helped us launch FOCUS.”

Today, FOCUS is instrumental in bringing about the New Evangelization in the Catholic Church. There are more than 730 FOCUS missionaries on 170 college campuses, sharing the Gospel with college students and inviting them into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“There is a Catholic Center within walking distance of almost every campus in the country, but most students don’t walk to the Center, so we needed to create an outreach that would walk to them,” Martin explains.

He found fertile ground for the first chapter of FOCUS at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. In 1997, Benedictine Father Meinrad Miller watched Martin and Dr. Hahn discuss the idea of FOCUS on EWTN, according to the College. Fr. Meinrad worked with Dr. Ted Sri, who was teaching at Benedictine at that time, to bring Martin to campus.

Benedictine was the “perfect place to launch FOCUS,” says Martin, who explains that the “students were so very open.” The chapter was opened in 1998 with two missionaries.

“Great things begin at Benedictine College,” Martin said last year, as Benedictine’s commencement speaker.

“They’ve developed a reputation here for launching leaders into every area of the culture,” he continued. “Something unique is going on here that is not going on at very many other places.”

Indeed, Martin recognizes that Catholic colleges are not all the same. “Too many Catholic universities have chosen earthly success at the expense of the Lordship of Jesus Christ,” says Martin.

“Many Catholic schools have lost their Catholic identity,” Martin laments. “Until they return to Jesus Christ, and the Church that He founded, they will fail to be the agents of renewal and transformation that they were created, and exist, to be. The renewal of Catholic colleges is critical to authentic renewal.”

When asked about what message he thinks college students today need to hear most urgently, Martin reflects on how our “earthly life is brief,” and “this generation of Catholics is responsible for this generation of people.”

The greatest poverty is to not know God, and Catholics need to respond to “His amazing invitation.”

“I believe that Catholics, even faithful Catholics, lack a sense of urgency,” he says. “Only grace will equip us for the work of rescuing our brothers and sisters. Now is the time, and we need to beg our Lord, through the intercession of our Lady, that we are given the grace to cooperate with Him to rescue them.”