‘A Model for Catholic Colleges’

I blush to disclose that the Cardinal Newman Society, hot on the trail of Catholic identity at Catholic colleges in advance of November’s U.S. bishops meeting, is promoting my employer, Benedictine College, as a model in this regard.

This morning, the D.C.-area organization sent a notice quoting Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., telling presidents of U.S. Catholic colleges and universities “Catholic is not just an adjective accidental to who you are … Catholic is the core of your identity, the center of what you are about.”

The U.S. bishops asked colleges to report to their bishops about Catholic identity on campus.

“Benedictine College has responded with a report that hopefully will be a model for other Catholic colleges across the country,” wrote the Cardinal Newman Society.

The report, “Catholic Identity at Benedictine College,” describes something many Catholics in America are only now learning: Kansas is home to an incredible story of a school reinvigorated by its Catholic identity.

“We hope with this report to show why we are the flagship college of the New Evangelization,” wrote Benedictine President Stephen D. Minnis.

The report describes how Benedictine College is the birthplace of FOCUS, has a longstanding dynamic theology department, a Thomas-Aquinas centered philosophy department, and a student life program that is thoroughly Catholic.

There are four daily Masses on campus, twice-daily confession, perpetual Eucharistic adoration and extensive retreats, missions and service to the poor.

Our enrollment has nearly tripled since Pope John Paul II published Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church) his 1990 Apostolic Constitution on Higher Education.

I love that the Cardinal Newman Society is sharing our report with the world. Over at The Gregorian Institute, I run down some more highlights of the document.



  • Valerie Schmalz

    Benedictine College is a great option for a family that is practicing Catholic and wants their college student/s to be exposed to a good Catholic college experience that includes a football team and lots of other sports, major extracurriculuars, service projects, lots of active social life and superb acadmics. The annual trip to the March for Life is a campus wide endeavor, with one of the students camping out in the quad until he gets enough participants.

    Our experience with the school is that it is supportive of the students, intrinsically and totally Catholic in a way that builds faith rather than ramming it down the kids throats. I didn’t even know much about the Benedictines until we looked into Benedictine College and their charism of hospitality and faith is one that really nourishes the kids’faith.

    All the dorms are single sex, with names like St. Joseph’s, and there are reasonable but not Draconian curfews. There is healthy dating without the hook-up culture, but it is not a non-drinking campus since at least a third of the college is above 21. College is often a time for mistakes and much as we do not want our kids to make them, that is part of life as human beings. The president Steve Minnis said he and the college start praying for each student as soon as he or she is admitted, and he requires the teachers “love our students.”
    Our experience of the teachers and the staff is that they do love the students and nourish their faith.
    The education is awesome, with some great scholars, and tough academics in a small class setting.
    The college is an ideal setting, old buildings but updated, green lawns and quads, new buildings that fit in with the hills of the school which sits on the bluffs of the Missouri River, with the Abbey and church anchoring one end of the campus and St. Benedict’s parish church on another side.
    The town is small but walkable, with sidewalks. Kansas City is an hour away.
    The school has more than a century of a good reputation that now only enhanced by its strong/er Catholic identity. As an example, the new vice chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp is a Benedictine grad. This school is about Catholics in the real world as Catholics and that is what we need!

  • tom in Ohio

    Especially gratifying with Benedictine U is its music program. Other school claiming Catholic identity either have no music major at all (Belmont Abbey and Christendom are good examples) or a miniscule department which focusses on sacred music (U of Dallas, Franciscan in Steubenville or even Ave Maria typify this approach). Comparing these schools to secular or evanglical institutions of similar size yields a startling revelation. Catholics don’t really care about music. Yeah, I’ll be that bold! Benedictine is totally in a league of its own with its comprehensive music program. I’d love to work there!



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