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Christendom College ‘More in Demand Than Ever,’ Says Enrollment VP

While six in ten colleges missed fall enrollment goals in 2019, Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., which is recommended in The Newman Guide, is thriving. Not only has it grown 30 percent over the past six years, but it is also setting a standard for fidelity in Catholic higher education.

Even in these uncertain times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the college is currently poised to meet or exceed its enrollment goals for Fall 2020 – a true testament to the value of its offerings at this unique time in our history.

Christendom College is committed to strong Catholic identity in academics, student life, and across campus. As a result, graduates of the college are “faithful and articulate Catholics who are not afraid to stand up for the truth,” according to Tom McFadden, vice president for enrollment at the College.

The Newman Society recently asked McFadden to discuss what makes Christendom unique, and about recent events at the college, including the progress on the new Christ the King Chapel.

Newman Society: Christendom College was founded more than 40 years ago to counter harmful trends in Catholic higher education. Today, the College sets a standard for fidelity and strong Catholic education. What makes Christendom such an exciting choice for Catholic families?

Tom McFadden: We have all seen the culture continue down a rapidly more secular path, especially in recent years. Catholic families are understandably worried about how their children will continue to learn the truth and live the faith today, especially during the college years. Our institutions of higher learning, even “Catholic” ones, are becoming places where students are falling away from the faith, rather than growing in it.

Christendom offers a solution for these families: a fully Catholic liberal arts education, taught by faithful Catholic professors from a Catholic worldview, in an authentic Catholic environment for the purpose of sending the graduates out into the world to make it more Christ-like. We are preparing the next generation of truly Catholic leaders who are not afraid to get off the sidelines and get involved in the great moral, spiritual, academic, philosophical and cultural battles that are coming our way – and families want their children to be prepared to handle these problems in the future.

Over the past 42 years, our alumni continually tell us the same thing, over and over again: they left Christendom with a top-rated academic education; were given the tools to think critically, innovate and communicate clearly; and embraced the knowledge and love of the faith that has enabled them to not only help themselves thrive as Catholics, but to help others discover the truth as well.

Our mission of “restoring all things in Christ” is not some hyped slogan, but a reality. With 96-98 percent of our alumni still practicing the faith, and 91 priests and 52 sisters counted amongst our alumni ranks, and with close to 500 alumnus-alumna marriages over the past 42 years, we are most certainly fulfilling our mission in the world!

As the recently retired Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia said of us, “Christendom College is not just a superior academic institution. It forms young men and women into real Christian disciples, people of keen intellect, prudent judgment, deep Catholic culture and a zealous love of God and learning… No one can ask anything higher from higher education… The Church owes a hearty ‘thank you’ to everyone in the Christendom College community for their extraordinary witness of Christian humanism and unembarrassed, joyful dedication to living the Catholic faith.”

I think that the good Archbishop did a solid job of summarizing why so many families love sending their children to Christendom and why we set a standard for fidelity and strong Catholic education today!

Newman Society: How is the College preparing graduates to go out into the world and rebuild Christendom?

Tom McFadden: While students are here, they are studying the greatest thinkers of Western Civilization in an educational environment that encourages them to think critically about these subjects. From smaller classrooms that ensure personalized attention, to a distinct focus where Christ is at the center of all our learning, students are uniquely prepared to excel after graduation in a way unlike what they would receive in a specialized, narrow education at another college.

A Catholic liberal arts education gives students the full picture, ensuring they go into the world after graduation with the skills and knowledge necessary to truly bring Christ into their careers and to every person they encounter. Our founder, Dr. Warren H. Carroll, envisioned graduates going into every career field, armed with the knowledge, skills, and faith to rebuild Christendom. The world may be more secular than ever, but Christendom graduates are leaving with the Catholic, liberal arts background necessary to accomplish that mission.

Through our unique Education for Life career courses that are part of our core curriculum, as well as through our personalized career development offerings, our students are better prepared than most college graduates to enter any career field possible. They are smart, confident and, most importantly, faithful and articulate Catholics who are not afraid to stand up for the truth — no matter the consequences. They are living and working across the country and around the world, armed with the mantra “Truth Exists. The Incarnation Happened” – the watchwords of Christendom College. Although it has only been around for 42 years, and there are only around 4,000 people who have ever attended Christendom College, we are making a deep impact on the Church and the world.

Newman Society: Just recently, the College raised $45 million over two years for its Call to Greatness campaign, part of which included funds for the new Christ the King Chapel. Why did the College choose to embark on building this chapel, and why do you think you’re receiving such strong support for it?

Tom McFadden: Practically speaking, our student body has grown exponentially in recent years, due to our education being more in demand than ever. Over the past six years, we have grown by 30 percent — when most colleges are fighting to either maintain enrollment levels or just keep their doors open — and as such, our need for a larger capacity chapel was self-evident. We currently have two Masses a day on campus, with more than two hours of confession available daily, and many in the local community also take advantage of our liturgical offerings. All of this has led to the building of the new chapel.

Another reason we believed we needed to build a new chapel is because today, in our current environment, the world needs outward signs of commitment to Christ and His Church. In medieval times, great cathedrals were constructed, raising people’s hearts and minds to Heaven. We wanted to bring that spirit back and inspire all who look upon this chapel to think on Christ, and to realize that in the end, He will reign as King.

Our donors are passionate about the need for such works of art today, and they see our new Christ the King Chapel as a true call to greatness. We’ve been so grateful for the outpouring of support we’ve received, and we look forward to celebrating the sacraments in this beautiful new chapel for generations to come. Their support is so crucial to our success since we do not accept any Federal funds — a sometimes difficult decision that we live with, but ultimately a prudent one, we believe.

Newman Society: This past fall, a Christendom freshman came into the Catholic Churchin the college’s chapel. How does the college help students go deeper in their faith?

Tom McFadden: Freshman Charles Fuller’s story is an inspiration to all of us, but we’re also thankful to say that this is not the first time this has happened on campus. Since our founding, students have come to Christendom eager to learn more about the truths of the Catholic faith. Although the vast majority have entered as Catholic, we have had some non-Catholics attend who have converted to Catholicism, while the vast majority of our students end up falling deeper in love with Christ and His Church.

The college’s emphasis on the importance of the Catholic faith and its centrality to a life of virtue is paramount. Through the celebration of Mass twice daily; the recitation of communal prayers in the residence halls and chapel; the required courses in the fundamentals of the Faith, Old Testament, New Testament, moral theology, Catholic apologetics, plus all the many required courses in Catholic history and philosophy; the First Friday devotions, including all-night adoration; the availability of the Sacrament of Penance for more than two hours each day; the faith formation talks, groups and fellowship; the celebration of Catholic feast days as a community; the ringing of the bells throughout the day; the singing of the Salve Regina at the conclusion of college events; and the truly Catholic leadership of our college president, Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, the entire community remains focused on the prize and the pearl of great price.

Through the liturgical offerings, academic courses, the great examples set by the faculty mentors and their families, the social activities that are uplifting and fun, and the vibrant community life on campus, the joy of the Catholic faith is visibly present.

As Greg and Toni Whittaker, who have sent 11 of their 12 children to Christendom, put it, “The most beneficial thing about a Christendom education is that our children can receive an academic and spiritual formation that is Catholic – it is the ‘pearl of great price’ that we as parents want to buy for our children. If you are going to put your money into higher education for your children, go for a good, solid investment like Christendom. At Christendom, your child will not have to compromise his faith, rather, he will be encouraged by the vibrant Catholic environment. Our children are now part of the solution to the cultural crisis that we see all around us as they build up a Catholic culture in America.”

Although Dispersed, Catholic Colleges Preserve Faith Communities

One of the distinguishing factors of a faithful Catholic college is its vibrant community life. Students spend four years immersed in a truly Catholic culture, where faith and virtue are promoted and students, faculty and staff make friendships to last a lifetime.

Now faithful Catholic colleges have closed their campuses to curb the spread of COVID-19, and students are dispersed around the country—but community life has not come to an end. These colleges are taking innovative steps to continue Catholic fellowship and stay connected.

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine…

Keeping the ‘Catholic’ in Distance Learning

Faithful Catholic schools are far better for Catholics than public schools. But how do they maintain their distinctive advantage when students are forced to stay home?

In important ways, Catholic schools are doing just that with the help of students’ parents. And in this time of anxiety and isolation, the special character of Catholic schools is more important than ever.

“For Catholic educators, this trying experience can serve as a time to recall what Catholic schools do both differently and do well,” write Dr. Denise Donohue and Dr. Dan Guernsey of The Cardinal Newman Society in “Maintaining Catholic Identity in Distance Learning Instruction.” “We are good at community, prayer, integral formation, and creating a Catholic worldview.”

Those four characteristics are repeatedly cited in Vatican documents as essential to Catholic education, and they suggest a good framework for ensuring that the “Catholic” of Catholic education remains strong, even when it is done remotely.

Community life under quarantine

In a crisis, families need community like never before. And even with social distancing—or perhaps especially because of social distancing—Catholics need each other for support and sanity.

For many families, a good Catholic school is a center of Christian fellowship with school leaders, teachers and other families. That’s because Catholic schools teach students how to build authentic human relationships, and since witness is a powerful teacher, they model Christian communion in every classroom and activity.

“It is through the community that students receive ‘a systematic and critical assimilation of culture’ which passes along our Catholic traditions, values and beliefs,” note Donohue and Guernsey. “In Catholic education, the community itself is considered a formative and educative means of student formation and development, where students learn Christian values by being exposed to Christian values—primarily through the witness of adults and others with whom they interact daily.”

This community remains vital to Catholic distance learning, and teachers especially can be present to students and parents in their online classes, communications and prayers together.

“How much more important now is the presence of the teacher in these unsettling times, when coming together is difficult and ‘social distancing’ is the norm,” ask Donohue and Guernsey.

Teachers can make a special effort to write handwritten letters to students, make phone calls and send video clips—always communicating through the parents, of course. In addition to giving lessons online, teachers should be “speaking from the heart and saying and doing human things to lighten the load and let students know you miss them but are in good humor.” Most importantly, teachers and families should be praying for each other and with each other, whenever possible.

Prayer and sacrament

At faithful Catholic schools, students experience reverent Mass, Confession, frequent prayer and Eucharistic adoration. But confined to home without physical access to churches, Catholic school students may be feeling as much of a loss as adults.

Still, this “does not mean that our hearts and minds should be allowed to go on a spiritual vacation,” warn Donohue and Guernsey. Teachers should begin every online class with prayer, just as in the classroom. And parents should be encouraged to continue school practices such as morning prayer and the Angelus at Noon.

Involving parents and siblings in the school’s daily prayer life can be a positive outcome of schooling at home. “Helping families start these family rituals now can have a lasting effect on children’s faith development for years to come. In some cases, families may be relying on us to pray with and form their students, and now is an opportunity to fully engage the domestic Church and leverage fuller participation moving forward.”

Parents should be encouraged to mimic the physical arrangement of the school—not only designated work spaces and well-lit, quiet rooms for online coursework, but also the distinctive Catholic imagery and prayer spaces found in a Catholic school. If a home does not already have a substantial amount of Catholic artwork and a dedicated prayer corner (with crucifix, Bible, prayer cards, etc.), that can be easily remedied.

Forming mind, body, spirit

A faithful Catholic school is not only concerned about academics. It looks to form the student to be physically healthy and strong, morally clean and virtuous, and spiritually on the path to sainthood.

“Specifically tying subject-area materials to lessons on virtue or the faith can help make connections between course subjects such as history or English,” suggest Donohue and Guernsey. “Identifying virtues and essential questions will help parents enter into the teaching, exemplifying concepts through discussion and example.”

The loss of school athletics will be keenly felt by students, and they are likely to get less exercise at home, especially if they have access to computer games and television. Educators can encourage walking and bike riding, as well as physical activities like arts and crafts or playing instruments.

A Catholic school teacher, concerned as much for the student’s welfare as for the ease of using computers for teaching and communication, will also recognize the dangers of forcing students to sit at a screen for much of the day.

“Whenever possible, break up discussion with individual work that students can do with pencil and paper or reading from a physical text,” advise Donohue and Guernsey. “Teacher teams may want to quantify, coordinate, and ration screen time as a ‘corporal work of mercy’ to our poor students!”

Teaching a Catholic worldview

“…Catholic education does not just teach secular subjects like other schools but also imparts a Christian vision of the world, of life, of culture, and of history, ordering the whole of human culture to the news of salvation,” write Donohue and Guernsey.

This integrated approach with God the Creator as the foundation of every study requires some effort within distance learning. Teachers will be tempted to water down courses to facts that are easiest to teach remotely, but good Catholic school teachers will not neglect the importance of group discussion and opportunities to highlight truths that are evident in math, science, history, literature and more.

Ultimately, “a Catholic school can never go wrong with a good supply of literature to recommend.” Allowing more time for students to read classic works at home does not detract from a Catholic education—it enhances it.

Overall, the COVID pandemic is making it very tough for Catholic schools to pay employees and plan for the future, but students can still be given an excellent Catholic education. If Catholic educators work to develop “thoughtful and comprehensive strategies to try to compensate for the suspension of in-person instruction,” argue Donohue and Guernsey, then they can continue to exhibit the strengths of Catholic schools.

The greatest of these strengths is love. Educators can show “comfort and mercy” to “stressed and overwhelmed” students and be true partners to parents, who may be trying to work from home while ensuring that students’ education continues without interruption.

When this time of “stay at home” and social distancing is over, teachers and students will be eager to return to their schools. In the meantime, distance learning can be truly Catholic and preserve the unparalleled advantages of Catholic education.

This article first appeared at The National Catholic Register.

Institute of Catholic Culture lecture banner

You’re Invited: Lenten Webinar with Newman Scholar

This Lent, you have a great opportunity to meditate on the mysteries of time, salvation, and God’s protective grace with our patron St. John Henry Newman and his inspiring poem, “Dream of Gerontius.”

Today, Dr. Bernadette Ward will present a webinar with the Institute of Catholic Culture, “I am Near to Death: A Study of Newman’s ‘Dream of Gerontius.’” The Cardinal Newman Society has been thrilled to help arrange this special event, and we hope that you will join us.

You can register here for the webinar that will take place Tuesday, March 31, from 8-9 p.m. ET, with discussion beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Also see our exclusive interview with Dr. Ward below! She is a Newman scholar and professor of English at the University of Dallas, which is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.

Newman Society: A strong Catholic education depends heavily on reading and discussing good literature. In the Newman Society’s guide to literature policies in Catholic K-12 schools, we emphasize literature that helps students learn “what it means to be a fully actualized, good human being” and to know and love God. How does literature serve this purpose at the college level?

Dr. Ward: At the college level, it is vital to engage not only with literature that builds us up but also with literature that shows us the consequences of various ideas—for instance, right now I am reading Frankenstein with my students, and discussing the consequences of calling life into being without respect for the mystery of God’s creative love. The book points readers to that mystery in allusions to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Of course, one can also read more complex writings, from historical backgrounds that require a stretch of the imagination to inhabit, Renaissance sensibilities or medieval sensibilities that require a transformation of the way we envision the cosmos. That’s very good for people who are often stuck in our narrow present time, in a cold universe unconcerned, as far as their culture tells them, with love and beauty.

Newman Society: You are an expert on St. John Henry Newman’s poem “Dream of Gerontius” and will be presenting a webinar about it on March 31. Can you explain the lessons that this poem teaches Catholics, especially during this holy season of Lent?

Dr. Ward: John Henry Newman kept his eye steadily on the most important matters: death and judgment, heaven and hell, and his relationship with God. The centrality of that, and how to cope with the loss of literally everything, on one’s way to God—these are some of the important things Newman is dealing with, along with the final impotence of evil and the joy of even suffering for the sake of seeing God. Our culture does not value suffering much; Newman did.

Newman Society: This time of “social distancing” might be a good opportunity for Catholics to acquaint themselves with good literature. Not many people are aware of St. John Henry Newman’s fiction and poetry. Do you have any special recommendations?

Dr. Ward: Other poems, such as “A Word in Season,” “Lead, Kindly Light” (“The Pillar of the Cloud”) or “The Sign of the Cross” are all available at NewmanReader.org for free. Frankly, his sermons are a lot better than his novels. Try “Ventures of Faith” for starters.

Students Learn Science, Ethics at Franciscan University

Studying the sciences at a faithful Catholic college, like Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, prepares students for their careers and for considering the moral dimension of their work. Students are given “tools to work through ethical decisions guided by the light of Truth,” says Dr. Dan Kuebler, dean of the natural and applied science programs at Franciscan University.

Dr. Kuebler believes Franciscan University graduates can make an impact through their witness in healthcare professions and help “rebuild a culture of life.” The Newman Society recently asked Dr. Kuebler to discuss what’s different about studying the sciences at Franciscan University, and about plans for future science offerings.

Newman Society: How does Franciscan University of Steubenville teach the sciences from an authentically Catholic perspective?

Dr. Kuebler: All of our students take an integrated core curriculum that enculturates them in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and, in particular, the theological and philosophical tradition of the Church. What they learn in these courses allows them to think critically about and fully engage with the learning experiences they have within the science programs.

Within the biology curriculum there are many issues that are discussed from a scientific perspective such as human sexual behavior, in vitro fertilization, cloning, contraception, etc. Students are not only taught about the latest science regarding these topics, but they also engage with their science faculty regarding the ethical and moral dimensions of these topics. Because they have been given the framework by which to engage these issues in their philosophy and theology classes, they are able to articulate and then ultimately defend the Catholic positions on these matters, positions that uphold the inherent dignity of human life.

If we fail to help our students achieve this integration, then we are not preparing them to live out their vocation as Catholic health care providers and scientists. We are not preparing them to be salt and light to a world sorely in need of a witness to the Truth.

Photo via Franciscan University of Steubenville

Newman Society: Last fall, Franciscan University unveiled a new biochemistry degree. Can you tell us about this exciting development, and other plans for science offerings at Franciscan?

Dr. Kuebler: The new biochemistry degree offers another science option for our students, particularly those interested in medical school and graduate school. The program takes the best of our existing biology and chemistry faculty along with new biochemistry faculty to produce a program that gets students into the lab doing research early on in the program.

In addition to the biochemistry degree, we are planning on launching four-year engineering degrees in Software Engineering and Mechanical Engineering over the next two and a half years. Currently we have partnership programs in which students spend two to three years on campus taking pre-engineering courses and then finish their engineering degree at a partner school.

While students in the program succeed academically at the partner schools, they do not want to leave the Franciscan academic community given the robust integration of faith, reason and community that exists here between our students, faculty and staff. Providing a high-quality fully accredited Bachelor of Science in engineering here on campus, we will be meeting the needs of these students as well as many other potential Catholic young women and men whom God has called to this field.

We are also expanding the cybersecurity course offerings within our computer science program with the aim of adding a certificate in cybersecurity to allow our students to have the preparation and hands-on experience to enter this burgeoning field.

Newman Society: Why do you think receiving a faithful Catholic education is crucial for future doctors, scientists and healthcare professionals?

Dr. Kuebler: There are so many ethical issues that scientific researchers and healthcare professionals face in the workplace. Too often, a utilitarian ethos drives medical decisions from end-of-life care to fertility treatments and leads to care and decisions that undermine the inherent dignity of human life.

By being immersed in the Catholic intellectual tradition and all its beauty and wisdom, our students have the tools to work through ethical decisions guided by the light of Truth. Their witness and ability to influence other healthcare professionals is the only manner in which we can hope to rebuild a culture of life that respects human life at all stages.

Newman Society: Franciscan is also well-known for its strong theology programs. How do the sciences and theology studies work together? Do many science students also minor in theology?

Dr. Kuebler: Our students must take three theology courses and three philosophy courses to graduate. Many students choose to take just three additional courses to minor in one of these two disciplines. Most of the science programs have five or six free electives, so it’s easy for students to do so.

This type of preparation only helps our students better articulate the beauty of the faith and navigate the ethical minefield of modern science and medicine in such a way as they bear witness to the Truth.

We host many interdisciplinary talks about topics such as gender ideology, fertility treatments, genetic modification and transhumanism so that students can hear from experts in both science, theology and philosophy on these topics. This type of integrated approach is essential for true learning.

Catholic Colleges Refuse to Disintegrate Faith from Science, Says Newman President

Our Sunday Visitor recently published the following article online, featuring Newman Society President Patrick Reilly:

There is a false notion that religion is an impediment to science. It is a contention that students in the sciences of biology will likely confront in their field. Educators at committed Catholic colleges explain that faith and science are in harmony with one another, and it is part of their mission to help students understand that.

Good Catholic institutions integrate these two bodies of knowledge since God is the author of both, and faith united with science provides moral safeguards. In the field of biology, however, where creating human life in petri dishes and changing the DNA of a human embryo are possible, human beings mistakenly think that they can play God.

“It’s not really a matter of integrating faith with science, it’s refusing to follow the atheist approach of disintegrating faith from science,” according to Patrick Reilly, president and founder of The Cardinal Newman Society, which promotes faithful Catholic education and publishes the annual Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College. “A Catholic school or college should be eager to address obvious and fundamental questions of where things come from, who designed such amazingly complex systems, what are the purposes of things, and what is man’s role in nature. Science, like every discipline, is better understood and appreciated with the insights of Christianity.”

Continue reading at Our Sunday Visitor…

Thomas Aquinas College academics

Academic Program Sets Us Apart, Says Thomas Aquinas College Dean

It’s an exciting time at Thomas Aquinas College, which is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity, with more students than ever benefiting from the faithful Catholic education provided by the College. The Santa Paula, Calif., campus reached full enrollment several years ago, but now TAC’s Northfield, Mass., campus allows for the College’s highest total enrollment ever.

The addition of the new campus has inspired several other developments, including a new motto for the College. The Newman Society recently asked Dr. John Goyette, dean of TAC, to discuss the motto and how it reflects the type of education that students receive.

Newman Society: What is the meaning behind the College’s new motto, Fides Quaerens Intellectum, or “Faith Seeking Understanding”? How does it relate to the College’s patron, St. Thomas Aquinas?

Thomas Aquinas College logo

Dr. Goyette: When we launched our New England campus last fall, we realized that we would need to update the Thomas Aquinas College crest, which previously read, “California – 1971.” Rather than trying to squeeze the name of both locations onto the crest, however, we decided to insert a motto—an expression of the essential nature of the institution. The College had never formally adopted a motto before, but the choice seemed obvious: St. Anselm’s description of the believer’s approach to learning, which is one of “faith seeking understanding.”

That short phrase tells you a great deal about Thomas Aquinas College. It tells you that our program is rooted in a desire to understand more perfectly, to see, as much as possible, what is first believed. It tells you that we have complete confidence in the compatibility of faith and reason, that we see natural science and mathematics not as threats to the Faith, but as ways to come to know and love God more deeply.

Although St. Thomas Aquinas did not coin the term “faith seeking understanding,” he embodied it. He labored his entire life to show how diligent study, illuminated by revelation, can bring us to some understanding of the mysteries of faith. More than any other Doctor of the Church, our patron shows us how the life of the mind is a foretaste of heaven, because it is there that the blessed—whose faith have given way to sight—have their desire to know Him perfectly satisfied.

Newman Society: How is this motto reflected in the education and student experience provided by the College?

Dr. Goyette: The entirety of Thomas Aquinas College’s academic program reflects that ours is a community of faith seeking understanding. Every student goes through the same integrated course of studies, which includes four years of natural science, four years of mathematics, four years of philosophy, four years of seminar (literature, history, and political science), two years of Latin, and one year of music—all ordered to four years of theology, the study of God.

At the heart of our curriculum are what we fondly call the great books, the original works of the greatest minds in our tradition, both ancient and modern. The great books explore the workings of the natural world, consider the most profound truths about the human person, and culminate in a contemplation of the greatest mysteries of God Himself.

Members of the teaching faculty—who are called “tutors”—guide small groups of students in discussions of these seminal works, employing what is known as the Discussion Method. In the classroom, 17 or 18 students sit around a table and, with a tutor as their guide, wrestle with the great books. Ideas are proposed and defended until, through discussion and argument, the class works its way toward an understanding of a given text. Together, in faith, we seek understanding and work toward truth—the Truth, Who is also the Way and the Life.

Newman Society: With the addition of the New England campus last fall, it’s an exciting time for the College. What do you think makes the College so attractive to Catholic families today?

Dr. Goyette: There are several colleges and universities today that offer a wholesome, faithful environment for Catholic students, as do both our California and New England campuses. But what sets Thomas Aquinas College apart, I believe, is our academic program, precisely because it is predicated on the notion of faith seeking understanding. We are the only Catholic college in the world that offers a curriculum based entirely on the great books and using the Discussion Method.

For 50 years we have held true to our founders’ vision of Catholic liberal education, and the results speak for themselves: not only does the College receive the endorsement of faithful Catholic programs such as The Newman Guide, it also consistently gets top rankings from secular publications, such as U.S. News and The Princeton Review, in recognition of our record of academic achievement. We also have alumni serving the Church and society throughout the world in every field and discipline—in technology, public service, education, law, medicine, and, of course, the priesthood and religious life.

I think that is probably what attracts Catholic families most of all. Here they know they can get an education that is both faithful and excellent, one which will prepare their children for whatever vocation or career to which they are called.

TAC New England campus
The College’s New England Campus

Newman Society: Anything else you’d like to add?

Dr. Goyette: I guess I would point out that families ought not be deterred by one factor that, sometimes, will lead them to erroneously conclude that they cannot come to Thomas Aquinas College—the cost. In keeping with our Catholic mission, the College is committed to never turning away any student on the basis of financial means. We meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need, and we cap student loans at $18,000 over four years. Last year Kiplinger rated the College #1 out of 1,200 colleges and universities on its “Best Value Colleges” list. Any student who is willing and able to be part of our community of faith seeking understanding can afford to do so.

Also, it’s worth noting that, for students who want to get a sense of whether Thomas Aquinas College is for them, there is no better way to find out than to visit. In particular, rising high school seniors should check out our two-week Summer Program, which is now available on both coasts.

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Graduate Scholarships Available to Alumni of Newman Guide Colleges

Are you planning to pursue graduate studies? Alumni of faithful Newman Guide-recommended colleges should know of these scholarship opportunities offered especially for them.

Business Administration

Benedictine College, which is recommended in The Newman Guide, is located in Atchison, Kan. It offers a $9,969 scholarship on a rolling basis to graduates of Newman Guide-recommended colleges entering the Master of Business Administration program online or on-site. More than 30 scholarships have been awarded since 2016.

Among its top 10 reasons for earning an MBA at Benedictine is the college’s “vibrant Catholic community” that is “producing business leaders who will transform the world through their commitment to professional, intellectual, personal and spiritual excellence.” In addition to the campus experience, the MBA is available through a Live Interactive Video Conferencing option that allows students to participate from anywhere in the country.

Jason Fabaz, assistant director of graduate business programs and professional development at the College’s School of Business, says:

Our professors are committed to upholding, in all of their lectures and classroom discussions, the teachings of the Catholic Church in regards to a faithful Catholic view of business, of economics, of justice, of social doctrine, etc. Our Mission of Community, Faith and Scholarship is built on Four Pillars: Catholic, Residential, Benedictine and Liberal Arts. Earning your MBA at Benedictine College gives you the added benefit of living in the midst of a vibrant Catholic community where you will be supported in your studies, professional pursuits, recreation outlets and your spiritual life. It is by means of this community that we are producing business leaders who will transform the world through their commitment to professional, intellectual, personal and spiritual excellence.

Fabaz believes that alumni of Newman Guide colleges are a great fit for the program:

We are happy to offer scholarships for graduates of Newman Guide-recommended colleges for two reasons. First, we want to ease the MBA tuition burden for those Catholic young professionals who have already made the sacrifice in paying for a private school tuition. Second, we want to especially attract young Catholics who are serious about their Faith and about a career in business — and we know that graduates from the Newman Guide-recommended colleges are impressive young people, both in terms of their moral life, their spiritual life and in terms of their potential as future business leaders.

Since Benedictine College is also a Newman Guide school, students from other Newman Guide colleges align closely with our philosophy here. They will fit in well with our emphasis on business ethics, collaboration, and leadership based on the faith. Things like our Thompson Center for Integrity in Finance & Economics are a demonstration of how we feel our students should impact the world and students from Newman Guide colleges more than likely share a similar vision.

Human Rights

The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., is also recommended in The Newman Guide. Its Institute for Human Ecology recently announced a new Master of Arts in Human Rights. Led by longtime pro-life leader and attorney William Saunders, the program draws on studies in philosophy, theology, law, canon law, and the sciences, and will ignite in students a passion to defend human life. The program is available on a full-time or part-time basis.

A new $5,000 scholarship is available for graduates of Newman Guide colleges and universities. The scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis. The deadline is July 15 for the fall semester.

“The Master of Arts program explains and interprets human rights through the lens of Catholic social thought. Students from Newman Guide-recommended colleges will appreciate this approach,” says Saunders.

“A solid education at a school committed to the truth and in step with the Catholic mission to the world would prepare a student perfectly for our program,” Saunders says, “within which we examine the deep truths about the human person and the common good.”

He adds:

In addition to the classes, which will be taught by professors committed to Catholic social thought, as exemplified by the teaching of John Paul II, we will have weekly meetings to explore the relevance of Catholic social thought to what is being learned in the classroom. We will also have frequent speakers from D.C., most of whom will be Catholics, to discuss their work and their faith. In addition, Catholic University is fully committed to the Church’s mission and intellectual apostolate and is itself a Newman Guide-recommended college.

Robert George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, has praised the program:

I think this [program] will really bring something new to the table. That is an understanding of human rights rooted in the deep tradition of thought that takes us back to Athens and to Jerusalem, an approach to human rights that really anchors human rights in the truth about the human person and the flourishing of the human person. … We need that kind of deep understanding.”

Law

Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Fla., is imbued with an “educational philosophy that emphasizes the moral foundations of the law, presents insights from the Catholic intellectual tradition, and encourages a broader perspective of the law and its role in society.” Students learn to practice law in any jurisdiction or employment area.

According to Claire O’Keefe, Esq., associate dean of admissions:

Our goal for law students is to create an educational philosophy that emphasizes the moral foundations of the law, presents insights from the Catholic intellectual tradition, and encourages a broader perspective of Florida law and its primary role in society. Ave Maria Law encompasses a carefully curated curriculum designed to ensure our graduates will be well prepared to practice law in any jurisdiction and legal institution. Ave Maria School of Law students come to embrace the law as a vocation. They understand that the law, morality and the common good are inextricably linked, and they leave their studies with a true understanding of the harmony of faith and reason.

The law school offers both a “Cardinal Newman Full Tuition Scholarship” and a one-time “Cardinal Newman Stipend” of $10,000 toward living expenses for the first year of the program. Students from other Catholic undergraduate programs are eligible for the scholarship and stipend in addition to Newman Guide college alumni, and the awards are available to more than one student per year. Twelve students received the scholarship in 2019 and 2018, 15 in 2017 and six in 2016. The application deadline is July 15 for the fall semester.

O’Keefe says the School is eager for applicants from Newman Guide colleges:

As Ave Maria School of Law seeks to admit men and women who are drawn to our distinctive mission of educating lawyers within the Catholic intellectual tradition, we welcome applications from alumni of these institutions and members of these organizations. We are confident that these students will enrich the academic and spiritual life of the Law School.

The fact that all Newman Society-approved schools are committed to a faithful Catholic education. While the approach differs from school to school, it is the constant presence of a faithful Catholic life and strong curriculum that makes these students a perfect fit for our school.

Psychology

Divine Mercy University in Sterling, Va., offers online and on-site advanced degree programs that integrate “both the science and practice of psychology and counseling with the Catholic-Christian vision of the person.” The university’s “Newman Scholarship” provides up to $5,000 in financial aid toward obtaining a Master of Science degree in psychology or counseling, or a Doctor of Psychology degree in clinical psychology. This scholarship is for students enrolling in a new program of study who graduated from a college or university recommended in The Newman Guide.

DMU offers the Newman Scholarship in light of the excellent preparation students receive from Newman Guide colleges.  “We have found that, in part due to their strong personal formation as undergraduates, students from Newman colleges tend to excel in our programs,” says Tambi Spitz Kilhefner, associate vice president of admissions at Divine Mercy University.

The university has three program start dates every year, which differ according to program (e.g., the Psy.D. program has only one start each year, in August). Each start offers opportunities to apply for the Newman Scholarship. For additional information and details on qualifications and program deadlines, please see this link.

Regarding Newman Guide colleges, Kilhefner says:

At Divine Mercy University, we provide a profoundly unique home for scholarship and professional training in psychology and counseling grounded in an integral Catholic-Christian view of the human person. Students who have excelled in a Newman Guide college program are well prepared to enter into our programs here at DMU

Kilhefner referenced the testimony of Jody G., a student in the M.S. in Counseling program at Divine Mercy University, who said: “I am forever grateful for my formation received at Thomas Aquinas College, a faithful Catholic college which has more than adequately prepared me for the counseling program with DMU. My courses in philosophy and theology, in particular, have prepared me to tackle the complex material that we are studying in the integrated program and take my personal and professional preparation to a deeper level.”

False Freedom at Some Catholic Colleges

The purpose of higher education can be summed up in one word: truth. If a college is not genuinely committed to truth, then the education is not “higher” at all.

Today students and educators are greatly challenged by distortions of the truth about man and God. Some of the most faithful Catholic colleges respond admirably, helping their students and society navigate very confusing times. But too many other Catholic colleges are guilty of scandal, leading young people away from truth and toward dangerous ideologies and falsehoods.

At Notre Dame of Maryland University next week, in the midst of Lent, former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and outspoken dissident Sister Jeannine Gramick will be featured at a women’s event presented by the university. Richards is responsible for thousands upon thousands of abortions.

By definition, a Catholic college is devoted to teaching and learning truth, beginning with the firm foundation of Catholic teaching. There is no possible way that presenting Cecile Richards and Sister Gramick accomplishes that mission. It is directly opposed to it.

When such events are criticized, Catholic college leaders will sometimes assert that, well, a college should be free to invite anyone it wants to speak on any topic. The claim is that freedom is needed to discover truth by reason, which it certainly is. But if truth is the aim, then a serious educator would place equal emphasis on upholding what is known to be true and rejecting falsehood. This is especially important at an authentic Catholic college, which is founded upon the conviction that God’s revelation through Christ and His Church is true.

Richards and Gramick oppose Catholic teaching and even natural law. Their advocacy is an attack on truth. Their falsehood is a severe limitation on freedom and an obstacle to students’ unity with God.

On Feb. 4, the University of Notre Dame hosted a panel discussion on “Affirming Care for Gender-Diverse Youth.” The event, presented by the Gender Studies Program at the university, urged that children be allowed to decide for themselves whether they are boys or girls. It endorsed horrific procedures to help children live out their new identities.

Again, such events are often defended by asserting a radicalized, absolute freedom to dialogue while claiming to pursue truth. But what’s presented is known falsehood. That might not be apparent at a secular college, but it should be obvious at a college that roots all of its teaching and research in the truth of Christianity.

Moreover, as at so many other such events, Notre Dame made no pretense of dialogue — not even one speaker who could defend the truths about man and sexuality that have been embraced by humanity for millennia. Notre Dame alumna Alexandra DeSanctis reports that all of the panel’s speakers were “entirely in agreement” on the possibility of sex change, which is in disagreement with Catholic teaching.

Then there’s Loyola University Maryland, which was featured at The Washington Post this week for its Sunday night Mass “incorporating Jimi Hendrix music, ‘Batman’ film clips, YouTube videos on current events” and other innovations chosen by students.

The article quotes the university’s director of student engagement: “For our students who were raised Catholic, there’s that piece of wanting to respect tradition, but then I think about who I was when I went off to college. There’s that desire to have more fun, to be more personally engaged, even to rebel. This Mass answers that as well.”

But does it embrace truth, beauty and goodness? Does it adore, worship and give glory to Truth Himself, present in the Eucharist? Certainly not. This is reminiscent of the 1970s “clown Masses,” appealing to the same base desires for entertainment and excitement, focused on the self instead of the Son of God in flesh and blood. I wonder if many people who were enthralled by clown Masses are faithful Catholics today?

Catholic families would do well to consider their college choices carefully. It makes no sense to invest four years of a young person’s life — and thousands of dollars — only to be taught a distorted view of humanity, morality and reality. Today this is the norm at secular colleges and even many Catholic ones.

Find a faithful Catholic college — not simply with a Catholic heritage or a Catholic appearance, but humbly devoted to truth. The college years are so crucial to a student’s preparation for life!

“Sociological studies tell us that between the ages 18-24… three things happen to young people: they develop life-long relationships, they make the faith their own, and they discover their vocation,” says Stephen Minnis, president of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

“This is why, when I talk to seniors in high school, I tell them that choosing a college isn’t a four-year decision — it is a 40-year decision,” he says. At Benedictine and other Newman Guide colleges, that outlook is apparent.

Unless a Catholic college is obviously and deeply committed to the full truth of the Catholic faith, it has compromised its mission. Catholic families deserve authentic Catholic education, and they shouldn’t settle for less.

This article first appeared at The National Catholic Register.

Catholic School Welcomes Children with Down Syndrome

How This Catholic School Welcomes Children with Down Syndrome

When the students and faculty of Holy Family Academy in Manassas, Virginia, attend this year’s March for Life in Washington, D.C., their group will include children with Down syndrome. It’s an important pro-life statement: in the United States, upward of 75% of preborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are killed by abortion.

But Holy Family — a small, lay-established school that is faithful to Catholic teaching — does more than advocate for the life of these children. It helps give them an education through its beautiful St. Anne Program, launched at the beginning of the last school year.

Each Friday, students aged 8 to 18 with Down syndrome participate in academics, music and art as a cohort, joining with the remainder of Holy Family’s K-12 students for Mass, lunch and recess. Parents homeschool the children through the remainder of the week.

“As a Catholic school, we are committed to promoting the dignity of life,” says Mo Woltering, headmaster at Holy Family Academy and former executive director of The Cardinal Newman Society in the late 1990s. He believes that, while students with Down syndrome have significant intellectual challenges, they have a human right to formation in mind, body and soul — and the program has “worked really well” for other children, too.

“Students see that children with Down syndrome are welcome at the Academy, and that the school has a commitment to education for these members of our family,” Woltering says.

Unique classical model

The St. Anne Program addresses a top priority for the local Diocese of Arlington. Bishop Michael Burbidge has called for more inclusion in Catholic schools, noting that students with special needs “show others the face of Christ and bring out the best in all of us.” He recently highlighted programs at two schools on the Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll: Bishop O’Connell High School’s expanded services and Paul VI Catholic High School’s Options program.

Other schools on the Honor Roll and around the country wonderfully combine faithful Catholic education with care for students who might otherwise be excluded. But one thing that is special about Holy Family’s St. Anne Program is that students have the opportunity to partake of a classical Catholic curriculum.

“The program reflects our basic commitment to classical education: that it’s for everyone, and that it will feed the souls of students with Down syndrome, albeit in a different way,” says Woltering. These students “show us a new type of connection with the classics, and with the true, the good and the beautiful.”

Another unique aspect of the Holy Family Academy program is that it focuses exclusively on children with Down syndrome, which Woltering says serves the students well.

“Many special education programs tend to lump their students together, but there are many educational and emotional differences among various special needs children,” he says. “A feature of our program is that the needs are similar, and so we are able to address them in a consistent manner.”

For social and recreational time, other Holy Family students serve as “ambassadors” for the St. Anne children. For many students, it’s the “highlight of their week,” Woltering says, and “friendships have quickly formed.”

“It’s always so much fun to see them on Fridays, they have such big smiles,” says Woltering. “On the friendship level and on a joy level, it’s been a big success.”

Family oriented

Catholic school programs like this recognize the dignity of each human being and benefit both students with special needs and the rest of the school community. This is the mission of Catholic education in action. As Pope Benedict XVI told Catholic educators during his 2008 visit to the United States, “No child should be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation.”

At Holy Family, the students with Down syndrome bring so much to the school, and the Academy has been a big help to parents in forming their sons and daughters in the Faith. It is — as Catholic education should be — a service by and for families with shared needs.

Mary Radel, instructor for the St. Anne’s program, has a younger brother with Down syndrome. The youngest child of Woltering and his wife Denise, who directs the grade school curriculum and whose parents founded the Academy, also has Down syndrome but is not yet old enough for the program.

Only a year and half into the pilot project, Woltering hopes that the St. Anne Program will expand and succeed into the future. “It will be really exciting to see that, to experience that, and share that with others too,” he says.

May Holy Family Academy’s example inspire other Catholic educators to do something similar to celebrate and improve the lives of children with special needs. It is yet another piece in the renewal of faithful Catholic education, with just the right combination of traditional devotion and innovative methods that is needed to serve Catholic families.

This article first appeared at The National Catholic Register.