REPORT CARD: Jesuits Escape from ‘Catholic identity’; Providence College Banishes Pro-Marriage Student; and more…

Jesuits don’t have to worry about ‘Catholic identity’ at public universities

With many Jesuit colleges and universities struggling to find enough Jesuits to fill roles, Fr. Jack Bentz, S.J.  wrote a counter-intuitive piece for America Magazine arguing that the Jesuit order, which is seeking a boost in vocations, should increasingly minister at public universities which typically have larger student bodies.

One of the advantages to foregoing Catholic education, according to Fr. Bentz, is that campus ministers don’t have to worry about things like “Catholic identity.” In fact, Fr. Bentz says he has found “greater freedom to serve the students” at Boise State than he did serving at Jesuit institutions.

The reason is disturbing:

“B.S.U. is not a Catholic university, so we spend no time worrying about Catholic identity, whether preserving it, reforming it or retrieving it for the university,” he wrote. “Gone are the days of being expected to be on anyone’s side about a production of ‘The Vagina Monologues.’”

Oddly, Fr. Bentz suggests it’s easier for a ministry to be Catholic at a secular university. At Jesuit universities, campus ministry must support “whatever spiritual path (the student) might be following,” he wrote. But at secular institutions, the Catholic student center doesn’t have to worry about being “all things to all students,” which “makes for a very Catholic-focused approach to the ministry.”

Perhaps the Jesuits could try evangelizing Catholicism at Jesuit universities? Just a thought.

Pro-marriage student barred from campus at Providence College

Things continue getting stranger and stranger at Providence College. The student at Providence College who recently found himself threatened after posting flyers in support of traditional marriage has now been barred from campus, after the college’s vice president of student affairs filed a restraining order against him.

Vice President for Student Affairs Kristine Goodwin claimed that student Michael Smalanskas, who graduated this spring, stared at her for approximately five seconds at the school’s commencement Mass and shouted her name at another Mass.

“While his words were not expressly threatening, his actions toward me have escalated quickly,” Goodwin wrote in a complaint, according to The Daily Caller.

She also expressed concerns that Smalanskas’ father was a police officer. “I am also afraid of Mr. Smalanskas’s parents, especially his father, who has access to weapons,” she stated.

In response, Smalankas said, “Any reasonable person must conclude that this constitutes retaliation by Kristine Goodwin and Providence College. For months, her grave incompetence as vice president for student affairs has been on display. Now, in what appears to be revenge tactics, she and the college have acted shamefully and recklessly.”

Sycamore Trust: Notre Dame’s ‘pro-life professions ring false’

The Sycamore Trust, an organization committed to restoring the University of Notre Dame’s Catholic identity, recently criticized the university for electing a new trustee who had donated $10,000 to a pro-abortion PAC run by Emily’s List. The donation was discovered and first reported by The Cardinal Newman Society.

The Trust’s president, Bill Dempsey, wrote a letter to university president Father John Jenkins asking if the university had any comments about the scandalous donation. “Is there some inaccuracy here, or if not, something in mitigation of the apparent significance of this contribution, or if not, anything the university would like to say in explanation of this appointment?” he asked.

Ann Firth, chief of staff to Father Jenkins, responded with a terse, “Thank you for your comments and for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. Please know that we will read your message carefully, and we appreciate hearing from you.”

Unsurprisingly, Dempsey found little comfort in the response.

In his post, Dempsey wrote, “The indifference of those in governance to this public evidence of promotion of the pro-abortion cause is – there is no other word as apt – scandalous. Pro-life professions ring false in the face of actions like this.”

This comes on the heels of Fr. Jenkins’ disastrous decision to offer contraception coverage for employees and students in its insurance plan.

Hybrid homeschooling is on the rise in the United States

Mike McShane of Forbes Magazine writes that hybrid homeschooling may be the wave of the future.

Studies show that homeschooling generally is on the rise in the United States, with now around three percent of students being homeschooled. Interestingly, around 7 percent of families would consider homeschooling, but fears of not being able to meet time obligations or concerns about a lack of socialization for their children keep them from doing so.

“Enter hybrid homeschooling, a model where children split their time between homeschool and a more traditional schooling environment,” writes McShane. “This could be three days at home and two days at school, two days at home and three days at school, part of the day at home and part of the day at schools, or a variety of other options.”

McShane said hybrid homeschools “blur the lines around what we consider a ‘school’” and should have many rethinking how we educate our children and how much of a role parents have in shaping what their children learn.

He called it “an evolving model” which will likely “become a larger and larger part of the educational ecosystem in our country as time moves forward.”

Future homeschooling mom explains why she rejects local Catholic school

Elizabeth Anderson, a stay-at-home mom of four, whose oldest child up until recently attended her local parish school, was surprised to see how “quickly and surely education can be compromised.” Her concerns that a woman who was civilly married to another woman was volunteering regularly at the school were rejected.

“Simply by publicly modeling her alternative lifestyle while serving as a volunteer at a Catholic school, she undermines the teachings of the Faith,” Anderson wrote in Catholic World Report. “We had to have a serious conversation with our little son regarding what makes a marriage in order to clear up confusion which had arisen in his mind because of this situation.”

She was also told by others that “love is love.” But she worries that even if a Catholic school is teaching all the right things, when those lessons are not lived out by those who work at or volunteer for the school, the children notice.

“If adults in Catholic schools provide examples contrary to Catholic truths, children come, quite naturally, to the conclusion, ‘Ah, well, those things I have been taught must be something I can pick and choose from if I like, because so-and-so is Catholic and does such-and-such, and it all seems fine,’” she writes. “As the culture at large has become more hostile toward the truth, all the more must Catholic educators and institutions become bold beacons of truth about the human person.”

Media reports exaggerate cost-cutting plan at Catholic U.

In a letter to the editors of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Andrew Abela, provost of The Catholic University of America, countered false media reports suggesting dire consequences of the university’s recently announced “academic renewal” plan.

With the aim of strengthening the university’s academics while maintaining financial sustainability, the plan converts the School of Music to a School of Music, Drama, and Art, renovates certain academic spaces, and requires that professors teach three classes per semester.

The latter change will lead to a reduction in faculty. But despite media reports of draconian cuts, Abela points out that the reductions “come nearly entirely from an early-retirement incentive, normal departures, and nonrenewal of contracts” and not mass layoffs. The university’s undergraduate enrollment is projected to increase for the second straight year.

125-year-old Marylhurst University to close its doors

Facing declining enrollment, Marylhurst University, the oldest Catholic university in Oregon, announced that it will close its doors at the end of the year, according to the Portland Tribune.

School officials pointed out the precipitous decline in enrollment in the past four years from 1,409 students enrolled to just 743. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment in colleges nationwide has dropped nearly six percent from 2010 to 2016. Small Catholic colleges with weak Catholic identity appear to be struggling.

Following the closure, the 50-acre campus will return to the Sisters of the Holy Names.

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