Editor’s Note: The Cardinal Newman Society recently announced its third annual Essay Scholarship Contest with a $5,000 prize for high school seniors who have signed up for its Recruit Me program. Essays and applications are due by February 18, 2019. Last year, the Contest asked students to reflect on the question, “How will a faithful Catholic college education prepare you for life?” The Newman Society received many impressive responses and will be posting some of the runner-up entries, including the one below by Céline Gaeta of California who is currently a freshman at The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire.
Considering that all the colleges and universities I applied to are faithfully Catholic, someone is eventually bound to ask me: Why choose an authentically Catholic college? Although there is more than one reply to this question, I feel the answer can be summed up in one simple statement: I want something more.
Most students going to college want a good education. But what exactly does a “good education” mean for a Catholic high school student heading for college? The education of a Catholic should include an excellent command of critical thinking skills and a well-rounded, broader education, so that they may have a better understanding of their faith and themselves. I want a college experience that will provide me with the necessary skills I require to pursue my future vocation. At the same time, it should also deepen my knowledge and understanding of Christ and His Church, in order to truly prepare me for life.
There are approximately 200 Catholic colleges in the United States. While the majority of these do an adequate job of providing their students with a decent, academic education… I want something more.
Pope St. John Paul II once said in an address to a group of bishops in 1998 that “…the mission of the Catholic school is the integral formation of students, so that they may be true to their condition as Christ’s disciples and as such work effectively for the evangelization of culture and for the common good of society.” Only in a faithful, Catholic college will I find the formation and growth that addresses every Catholic’s call to discipleship.
Most of these colleges also provide a variety of programs where students can commit to meaningful, community service at any given time. In addition, there are a variety of faith-sharing activities during the year, as well as many places to pray and opportunities to receive the Sacraments.
We must all discern the vocation that God has chosen for us. I consider college to be a time of preparation and joyful anticipation of what God has in store for me. A college education should offer opportunities where I can develop and deepen my spiritual and interior life in Christ and hone my intellectual knowledge, so that when I am ready to begin the plan God has in store for me, I will be both capable and ready to serve effectively and whole-heartedly.
It is because I want “something more” that I firmly believe that a faithful, Catholic college education will prepare me for life: engaging, academic programs, a vibrant Catholic community, frequent availability to the Sacraments, long-lasting friendships, and opportunities for meaningful, Christian service. More importantly, however, I recognize that going to an authentically Catholic college will endow me with the courage to stand strong in the midst of a culture plagued by secular relativism and a clear dislike for the true, the good, and the beautiful. Lastly, I will inherit the proper disposition to bring others to the light of Christ, because—ultimately—He wants something more of me.
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