Saturday, December 22, 2007

St Thomas Alum Proud of its Past; Worried About Its Future Without an Archbishop on the Board

As an undergraduate student at the University of St. Thomas from 2000-2004, I can vouch for the Rev. Dennis Dease's list of Catholic-identity accolades (Opinion Exchange, Dec. 11).

St. Thomas has indeed done much to promote and preserve its Catholic identity.

But in responding to Kathleen Kersten's Dec. 6 column, neither Father Dease nor Archbishop Harry Flynn addressed her central concern: How is the university's Catholic identity preserved by a change in the bylaws that removes the sitting archbishop as chairman of the board of trustees?

Archbishop Flynn promised in his letter that the board would always include bishops or priests. But unless this promise appears in the bylaws, it's only as good as his five-year term.

As a proud graduate of St. Thomas, I am deeply concerned for the university's future as a Catholic university. Like Kersten, I believe the preservation of the university's Catholic identity is key to maintaining a true diversity in education.

No list of accolades, and certainly no word-of-mouth guarantee from an archbishop with a coadjutor, will assure me that St. Thomas won't cave in to secularization. Until I see the sitting archbishop written back into the board's bylaws, any guarantee of the university's continued Catholicity to me seems ill-founded, inaccurate and ludicrous.



Fr. Andrew said...

Well written and respectful by Franz. He raised the salient point and reiterated why it is important. I went to seminary with Franz, I lost track of him but I guess this means he wasn't ordained.

I'm surprised the strib printed a well reasoned response.

Anonymous said...

After reading the article by Katherine Kersten, it is still not clear to me after reading the responses by both Fr. Dease and the Archbishop Flynn, how this radical change in the board will not lend another significant step toward the loss of the Catholic identity and character of St. Thomas. I would encourage individuals to read through James Burtchaell's book, THE DYING OF THE LIGHT to see how religious affiliation has become distanced in many universities in our country. Such identity is not created by the presence of a good school of theology (or seminary), or a few good priests and religious (even on the board), but that the ways of life communicated throughout all departments, throughout campus life and campus ministry, are fully living from and breathing within the Catholic tradition. This is why the overwhelming majority of leaders on campus, including professors and board members, should be faithful, practicing Catholics who love their Church, their Magisterium and its teachings, and their sacramental life. This change in the board as far as I can tell fits the long term pattern of an institution that is losing its religious identity.