Statement of The Cardinal Newman Society on Dominican University of California

On April 12, 2018, Dominican University of California, located in San Rafael within the Archdiocese of San Francisco, will host Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards as part of the University’s Institute for Leadership Studies 2018 Spring Leadership Lecture Series. Richards and Planned Parenthood are responsible for the deaths of thousands of preborn infants and for harvesting human body parts.

Despite the misleading name of Dominican University — which alludes to its founding by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, the great Catholic evangelist Saint Dominic, and a formerly authentic Catholic education — it is important to make Catholic families aware that Dominican University of California is no longer recognized as a Catholic university by Church authority.

It is understandable that many Catholics are unaware of Dominican University’s status, given its quiet slide into secular education. Several years ago, The Cardinal Newman Society noticed that the University has not been listed in the Official Catholic Directory, by which the U.S. bishops identify officially Catholic institutions, since 2012. This week we explained this tragic development to reporter Claire Chretien of LifeSite News, who then obtained confirmations from both the University and the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Chretien reports:

Dominican University, which began as a Catholic school, now considers itself “non-denominational” but has “Catholic tradition,” a representative of their admissions office told LifeSiteNews.

The college “has not been a recognized Catholic University for many years,” Mike Brown, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, told LifeSiteNews.

Nevertheless, the University’s repudiation of its founding Catholic mission is not entirely clear to visitors to its website. While the University makes no explicit claim to a Catholic identity, it does tout “Dominican ideals” — albeit an “ecumenical” distortion of the robust Catholic spirituality and fidelity of the Dominican Order (properly named the Order of Preachers).

The University also maintains some association with its founding Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, and three Dominican Sisters serve on the Board of Trustees. A 2017 presentation by historian Sr. Patricia Dougherty, OP, celebrating the Sisters’ long history with the University, still identifies it as one of 15 “Dominican College and Universities in U.S.” without mentioning any formal shift away from Catholic education.

Likewise, this momentous change is nowhere mentioned in the website’s history of the University.

Apparently University President Mary Marcy was aware of the change as early as 2011. In her inaugural address, she proclaimed matter-of-factly, “From a Catholic women’s college we evolved to become a secular co-educational university with a Dominican heritage.” That was when Dominican University was still listed in the Official Catholic Directory.

Surely Dominican University’s alumni and donors have noticed changes at the University, but Dominican University ought to be candid about its formal abandonment of Catholic education and its founding mission.

Moreover, Catholic families in California and elsewhere deserve to be aware that Dominican University is not a valid option for Catholic education.

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