Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Father William Graham to Speak at St John's/St Ben's: What Makes a College Catholic?

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Millions of Catholic parents would love to listen to this presentation and find out the answer!

Father William Graham presents a speech titled “Why Spend $30,000? Seven Attitudes and Approaches That Make a College Catholic,” at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8, in the Alumni Lounge on the Saint John’s University campus, Collegeville. The evening, sponsored by SJU Campus Ministry, will conclude with Eucharist at 9 p.m. in the Abbey Church at SJU.

Father Graham’s speech will focus on what elements allow colleges to identify themselves as Catholic. He hopes that through his seven steps that the “identity of the Catholic institutions will be recognized and celebrated as we work with our students on their journey to growth in wisdom and grace.”

Graham has served for over 10 years as pastor in the Diocese of Duluth in northern Minnesota. He now works as a professor in the theology department and is the director of the Catholic Studies department of the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. [...snip] CSB/SJU News

Last October, Father Graham wrote an article published in the National Catholic Reporter that dealt with this very question. Last year's presentation seems to have only four attributes that characterize a Catholic College. The SJU/CSB presentation calls for seven this year:

"The Second Vatican Council seemed clear in the Declaration on Christian education, Gravissimum Educationis: "The hoped-for result is that the Christian mind may achieve, as it were, a public, persistent and universal presence in the whole enterprise of advancing higher culture, and that the students of these institutions may become truly outstanding in learning, ready to shoulder society's heavier burdens, and to witness the faith to the world."
[....snip]
I suggested to a religious studies colleague that if one hires a nurse or a biology graduate from a Catholic university, it would seem that she or he might bring something to the workplace that another with a secular education would not. . . . Why would one disagree? Is the teaching of the church so very dangerously flawed that we have to shield our students from it? If we cannot ask such a question of the graduate of a Catholic institution, how is her or his degree different from that granted by a public institution? If there is no difference, why should Catholic institutions continue to grant degrees?
[....snip]
A colleague is reported to claim that she is distressed coming to work day by day to a place where there are images of first-century capital punishment on the walls of many classrooms and public spaces. The clear implication is that these crucifixes are objectionable as well as politically incorrect and should be removed so as not to offend finely tuned sensitivities.
[....snip]
Another colleague quizzed me, in the last months of John Paul II's papacy, as to whether or not I thought the pontiff should retire. Before I could comment, he offered his angry opinion that the pope should step down immediately. . . . But how, I asked as demurely as possible, would it affect my questioner who is, I think, a non-practicing Protestant? He made no answer. . . .
[....snip]
We are being assassinated from within. How did it happen that assassins were enfolded in institutions they find so objectionable? Is that what diversity requires? And why would one want to cash a check week by week from an institution of which one disapproves or even loathes? Would it not be better, more honest, or more ethical to work at a place whose sponsoring body one does not find so horribly offensive?
[....snip]
Perhaps Catholic institutions have been slower than some others in adopting the language of mission. This is not because they previously did not know mission, but when institutions of higher learning were staffed principally by members of the sponsoring religious communities, there was no need for talk of mission in hiring. But when the numbers of religious on staff dwindled and lay professors were hired, too often not enough attention was paid to the distinctive Catholic character of the institution.
[....snip]
Since the objective of a Catholic university is to assure in
an institutional manner a Christian presence in the university
world confronting the great problems of society and culture,
every Catholic university, as Catholic, must have the following
essential characteristics:

1) a Christian inspiration not only of individuals but of the
university community as such;

2) a continuing reflection in the light of the Catholic faith
upon the growing treasury of human knowledge, to which
it seeks to contribute by its own research;

3) fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through
the church;

4) an institutional commitment to the service of the people of
God and of the human family in their pilgrimage to the
transcendent goal, which gives meaning to life.

Those who cannot in good conscience share or enthusiastically
support such a mission, tenured or not, should seek employment
elsewhere. Such a thrust would not violate but rather promote
diversity. [....snip] National Catholic Reporter





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