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REPORT CARD: Faithful college praised for financial aid; Praying for Notre Dame; ‘Pride Prom’ at Marquette

Thomas Aquinas College recognized for financial aid program

With college affordability becoming an increasingly prominent (and problematic) issue, Thomas Aquinas College’s recognition by The Princeton Review’s national Financial Aid Honor Roll [1] is especially refreshing.

“We are pleased that, once again, The Princeton Review has featured Thomas Aquinas College in its annual guide,” Admissions Director Jon Daly said. “Our goal has always been to provide the best education at the most affordable price, and The Princeton Review profile offers some strong evidence that we are succeeding.”

The Princeton Review gave the Santa Paula, Calif.-based Newman Guide college a 95 for academics, 94 for quality of life, and 99 for financial aid in its newly released 2018 edition of The Best 382 Colleges.

Faith, science on display at Benedictine College’s eclipse viewing

Pope St. John Paul II once said that “faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.”

That sentiment will be greatly exemplified by Benedictine College’s scientific and faith-filled eclipse viewing on Aug. 21, which will include Mass, talks from Vatican Observatory astronomers, family activities, and live music. The College is recommended in The Newman Guide for its faithful Catholic education.

A total eclipse occurs when the moon covers over the sun and casts a shadow, making only the corona of the sun visible.

Benedictine President Stephen Minnis told The National Catholic Register [2] that the college is “excited to host the most educational eclipse viewing around.”

University of Mary’s Tempe campus relocates into historic church

University of Mary’s Tempe campus has a new home in St. Mary Church, the oldest church in the Phoenix area. The new space was blessed and dedicated on Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption. The university will host an open house after Mass on Sept. 14, which is the 30th anniversary of John Paul II’s visit to Arizona State University.

In 2012, through an unprecedented academic partnership of public and Catholic higher education, the University of Mary teamed with Arizona State University to bring theological and Catholic studies to the area.

The church facility downstairs includes a classroom, reception area, and administrative offices. University of Mary, a Newman Guide college, has restored the church’s upstairs into a place of prayer and study for students.

“The new location demonstrates the strength of the partnership between University of Mary and the Newman Center and our shared mission to serve the intellectual and spiritual life of the students who attend ASU,” said University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea [3]. “The Old Church will continue to be a place of study and prayer, and the new Newman Center Chapel and adoration chapel will continue to be the spiritual home of our students and where they encounter Jesus in the sacraments.”

Scholar warns of the looming threat to religious schools

The idea of religious liberty has been purposefully constricted in recent years, highlighted by the federal government’s attempts to force nuns to fund contraceptives and states forcing Christian bakers and photographers to participate in celebrations of same-sex unions. This has put religious schools at risk, especially those adhering to the traditional understanding of marriage, The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson writes in The National Review. [4]

Such schools “stand to lose accreditation and nonprofit tax status as well as eligibility for student loans, vouchers, and education savings accounts,” warns Anderson.

In a telling moment during the Supreme Court’s hearing on the definition of marriage, Justice Samuel Alito asked the solicitor general whether the state should pull tax exemptions for schools that uphold traditional marriage. The solicitor general responded that “it’s certainly going to be an issue.”

Until this issue is resolved, Anderson said, schools and other religious institutions will likely find themselves the target of lawyers, overzealous bureaucrats, and politicians.

Marquette plans Pride Prom, Holy Cross plays to gender confusion

Marquette University’s LGBTQ Resource Center is asking people to “save the date” for Pride Prom 2018. Scheduled for April 14, 2018, the university says the event will be “an all-ages, family-friendly event and open to the public.” [5] According to the university’s website, the Pride Prom will take place in a ballroom on campus.

Meanwhile, the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts is sponsoring the world’s first “digital transgender archive,” which it says was established “to increase the accessibility of transgender history.”

Praying for Notre Dame: Novena for Catholic education

As students prepare to return to the University of Notre Dame and Catholic campuses across the country, The Sycamore Trust is inviting the faithful to join in praying a novena for Notre Dame and Catholic education.

The Trust, an organization of alumni and others committed to preserving Notre Dame’s Catholic identity, is promoting its First Annual Novena for Catholic Education and Notre Dame. The novena began on Aug. 14, the Vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The public can register to receive daily prayers inspired by the Congregation of Holy Cross’ Constitutions and the University of Notre Dame’s Mission Statement.  [6]

Pilgrims retrace steps of Notre Dame’s founder

Thirty-two pilgrims began walking what’s called the Notre Dame Trail on Aug. 13. The 320-mile walking and biking journey from the Basilica of Saint Francis Xavier in Vincennes, Ind., to the University of Notre Dame retraces the steps of Father Edward Sorin.

The 14-day trip celebrates Notre Dame’s 175th anniversary and the journey originally made by the Fr. Sorin, who immigrated to the U.S. as a missionary in 1841 along with several Holy Cross brothers to found the university.

Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, CSC, celebrated Mass and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb joined the walk on Aug. 13 for the first two miles of the pilgrimage to Notre Dame.

The public can register at The Notre Dame Trail [7] for the final day of the University’s 175th Anniversary on Aug. 26, which will include walking the final three miles of the Notre Dame Trail, the 175th Anniversary Mass, and a picnic.

Regis U. student who mocked identity politics found not guilty

A third-party investigator has determined that a student at Regis University, a Jesuit university in Denver, did not violate university policy or federal law, according to The Daily Caller. [8] The student had been accused of discrimination after holding a “Social Justice Bake Sale” mocking the idea of identity politics by setting prices based on race, gender, and sexuality,

Investigator Jody Luna reported to Regis that student Alex Beck was not guilty of discrimination or unauthorized videotaping.

“Numerous students were justifiably offended by Mr. Beck’s ‘bake sale’ and [the fact] that he priced items based on the purchaser’s protected status,” Luna said. “However, there were insufficient facts to find that his conduct violated specific Regis policy or the law.”

However, Beck said he will not be returning to Regis. After Beck complained about being threatened and stalked after his event, Regis Provost Janet Houser told him, “It’s not that I can’t do anything. I am not going to do anything.”

Century-old anti-Catholic laws stand in the way of school choice

Increasing school choice programs would revitalize many urban areas, but anti-Catholic laws from the 19th and early 20th century stand in the way, said Jamie Gass, director of the Center for School Reform at Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based think tank. [9]

America’s founding fathers were clearly on the side of religious liberty, with George Washington asserting that the “government of the United States… gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” John Adams endorsed the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution, which directed localities to fund religious instruction.

However, 19th century laws, with the backing of the anti-Catholic Know-Nothing Party, prohibited Massachusetts from giving taxpayer money to parochial school parents. Sadly, Gass said, those laws still exist and are one of the greatest obstacle to improving urban schoolchildren’s education.

“These shameful 19th- and 20th-century amendments insult the integrity of our educational system; their infamous legacy endures in the constitutions of 36 other states” writes Gass.

Cardinal Cupich, Chicago Mayor differ on school voucher plan

Despite many requests for answers, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has refused to take a position on whether or not state lawmakers should include a measure backed by Cardinal Blase Cupich that would help families pay for private school tuition.

At a recent event at a public school, however, Emanuel said his “first and foremost responsibility was to public schools.”

Cupich, who invited Emanuel to Rome to witness his elevation to cardinal in November, supports offering tax credits to taxpayers who donate to a fund that covers private school tuition, even saying in an email to Emanuel that it would be “an enormous boost to the Chicago schools and the thousands of parents who use our schools.”

Emanuel responded simply by saying, “Of course we will discuss.” [10]

Optimism for school choice despite opposition

Education leaders are cautiously optimistic that President Trump will follow through [11] on a promised $20 billion investment in charter and private schools, including Catholic schools, through a federal scholarship tax credit program.

In his first budget, Trump proposed a budget which included $1 billion for a school choice program, along with $250 million in grants for families to pay for private school.

Sister Dale McDonald, PBVM, director of public policy for the National Catholic Educational Association, said she wants “to see the president keep his promise” on school choice by creating “a program that is available in all 50 states.”

However, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called the proposal “a reverse Robin Hood strategy of robbing schools of investments that work for kids.”