Catholic Habits of the Mind

PowerPoint overview of Catholic Habits of the Mind:


By Denise Donohue, Ed.D., and Patrick Reilly


Catholic education integrally forms students in mind, body, and soul so they might know and love God and serve their fellow man. Because of this mission, Catholic education has a long tradition of excellence in harmoniously forming students’ intellects and characters through instruction in knowledge and formation in virtue. There are some well-known teachings on developing intellectual virtue in the Catholic intellectual tradition. In order to reinvigorate classroom teaching in Catholic schools and to assist teachers in delivering a deeper and more robust student formation, this paper advocates for the development of three Catholic “habits of mind” to elicit in students: thinking with faith, thinking philosophically, and seeking and valuing the transcendent.

Father Antonin Sertillanges, O.P., wrote substantively of the habits and behaviors of the Christian intellectual in his important work, The Intellectual Life.[1] St. John Henry Newman, in the 19th century, described education as cultivation of the “philosophical habit of mind,” developing greater understanding of both the parts and the whole of knowledge. And St. Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages reflected on the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle’s writings on habits, both moral and intellectual.

In the Catholic paradigm—and indeed in the classical terminology that has been foundational to both secular and Christian education for more than two millennia—we call good habits “virtues” and distinguish them from vices, which are consistent bad habits. The Catechism defines virtue as “a habitual and firm disposition to do the good.”[2] The development of virtue leads a student to both human flourishing and to Heaven. Sertillanges identifies “studiousness” as the key intellectual virtue, but it is a part of temperance; indeed, all the virtues that support academic and intellectual work flow from the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance and the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.

In Catholic education, virtues overlap and occur throughout all levels and types of student formation. Learning a “pattern of intellectual behavior that leads to productive actions”[3] such as in the secular Habits of Mind program may have some utility in all schools, but a liberal education aims for much more, with even productive actions possessing an ethical dimension.[4] Catholic intellectual virtues help students do more than problem-solve; they help students seek and find the truth of a thing. In Catholic education, this inquiry into the truth ultimately leads to Truth Himself: God. This path is one that secular education cannot fully pursue. Our nature is designed to pursue truth through the inquiry of things, and in Catholic education, this truth is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. When illuminated by God’s grace, we understand and determine the interconnection of things, and learn something about the higher causes of things.

In Catholic education, the formation of moral virtue is not only an essential part of the written curriculum[5] but is modeled and taught through the lives and witnesses of its teachers and others who exhibit virtues such as faithfulness, docility, humility, piety, gentleness, compassion, and kindness, among others. Catholic schools are all about formation in virtue, as these dispositions are considered the means of acquiring the goods of this life and the gaining of heaven. Our Lord made explicit to us in his teaching of the beatitudes the result of acquiring specific dispositions: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied…Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:3-10).

The formation of intellectual virtues aligning with a moral formation conforms to the holistic approach of Catholic education, which seeks integral education of mind, body, and soul. Catholic education forms young people with a Catholic worldview and shows them that virtue has positive real-world consequences in this life. It teaches that virtues such as prudence are applicable to intellectual, moral, and physical challenges that may come their way. Most importantly, Catholic education teaches the virtues as the way of Christ and guides the path to sainthood.

Catholic Intellectual Virtues

The Catholic intellectual tradition—developed by St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and many others—distinguishes intellectual virtues. They focus on what one knows and how that knowledge is used, always within the framework of a moral purpose. These traditional five virtues are art, prudence, understanding, science, and wisdom. Teachers in Catholic education who employ these methods can rest assured of their soundness and heritage.

Art and prudence are considered practical virtues because they are concerned with two forms of action: making and doing. Art directs the intellect in applying certain rules or methods to make useful, practical, beautiful, and pleasing things. It is the capacity of knowing how to do something or knowing different techniques, such as knowing how to use a computer program or how to make a kite fly. Art involves applying knowledge to shape matter, whether that matter is an artistic sculpture or principles of arithmetic. Prudence directs the intellectual powers toward knowing what is best and assessing what ought to be done. It involves analyzing and evaluating the proper means of action with the direction of contributing to our long-term happiness and is the foundational intellectual virtue necessary for all the other moral virtues. According to St. Thomas, prudence is the “form” of the moral virtues, and the human passions and actions are the “matter.”[6] Thus, in any particular situation, “it is prudence that determines what the just, temperate and brave act is.”[7]

Understanding, science, and wisdom are considered speculative virtues, and these are connected by nature to man’s desire to seek and know truth. Understanding cultivates knowledge of first principles or truths that are self-evident, or that reason and logic add to our experience. This knowledge is intuitive and easily attainable, such as the law that something cannot both exist and not exist at the same time under the same conditions.[8] Science uncovers “knowledge of conclusions acquired by demonstration through causes or principles which are final in one class or other.”[9] Science, therefore, is the evident knowledge of something through demonstration. Still, it is much more. It is human reason acting upon knowledge to draw conclusions from sound premises, thereby multiplying knowledge of creation, humanity, and God. It involves the habits of careful observation, experimentation, and measurement to reach conclusions using demonstrative reasoning. Science demands evidence and properly ordered reasoning and this evidence and reasoning assist with determining a certain level of certainty about a thing. Wisdom is the knowledge of conclusions to life’s most profound questions. Its object is truth and is generally identified as the study of philosophy or metaphysics. It seeks the answers to the questions of humanity’s existence and that of the universe, such as, “Why is man the only rational creature?” and “Why are the planets ordered the way they are?” Catholic educators are called to facilitate discussion and to direct the student’s intellect toward grasping the relationship between humanity and these existential realities.

Generally, this is done through philosophical questioning and inviting students to contemplate reality in wonder and awe. Aristotle called wonder the beginning of a love of wisdom—the highest understanding of things, their first causes and principles. Wonder begins, he says, “in the first place at obvious perplexities, and then by gradual progressions raising questions about the greater matters too, e.g., about the changes of the moon and of the sun, about the stars and about the origin of the universe.”[10] Students should not stop at intellectual curiosity, which is satisfied with answers to “How” and “Why.”[11] The type of wonder desired here is a deeper, contemplative wonder that is exemplified by a full-body emotional, aesthetic, and existential response. This wonder leaves one open to the uncertainty and the mystery still evident in the experience.[12] It is at this moment that one can “step off” into the realm of faith, accepting it as a valid way of knowing, a moment in which one can revel in the first cause of all created things: God.

While there is certainly a place for wonder as curiosity in Catholic schools – in all schools –contemplative wonder does not stop with answers in the material world. As Newman says, wonder should lead reason to “ascend” above the actual fact or experience and the strictly material. It should look not only to material causes, comparisons, relationships, classification, and principles but should also evoke a sense of humility and a sense of our powerlessness and adoration before the glory of God, the author and end of all that is true, good, and beautiful. Catholic education teaches students the use and skills of reason to rise toward the transcendent. We teach students habits of reasoning that elevate thought above information and experience. Secular education leaves students hanging at the peak of ascent since it cannot jump off into the realm of religious faith. A Catholic school that teaches religion but fails to form students with skills and habits of philosophical reason is leaving students unable to contend with the issues of post-modernity, where they can quickly fall prey to ideology despite conflicts with their consciences and sense of natural law. They can have years of experiencing God’s love and mercy in Catholic education, the sacraments, and the family, but then they turn away because their inadequately formed minds cannot find God in reality, and they are lost in confusion.

St. John Henry Newman points out that while materialists can experience fascination, wonder is fully experienced when it causes us to “Rejoice with trembling”[13] and focuses not just on creation but also on the Creator. There is a depth and mystery to creation and reality and to our relationship to God, which evokes “a feeling of awe, wonder, and praise, which cannot be more suitably expressed than by the Scripture word fear; or by holy Job’s words, though he spoke in grief, and not as being possessed of a blessing. ‘Behold, I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him: on the left hand, where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him: He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him. Therefore, am I troubled at His presence; when I consider, I am afraid of Him’ [Job xxiii. 8, 9, 15].” [14]

A greater emphasis on these true Catholic intellectual and moral virtues and on the transcendent can help ensure the development of habits to assist in the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and cultivating wisdom for human perfection in the light of faith. These are critical goals in Catholic education, which understand that human nature is oriented toward unity with God the Creator, and man’s gift of reason is intended to serve the free search for truth about God, humanity, and creation. Without an appeal to truth, man’s free will and reason lack purpose, and human dignity is not respected. Catholic intellectual virtues move beyond an emphasis on problem-solving to prepare students as useful workers and citizens. This focus is insufficient to achieve Catholic education’s goal of virtuous living and sainthood.

Additionally, Catholic educators should ensure that their curricula and course plans include but are not limited to memorization, seeking knowledge from sound testimony, identifying first principles, asking about essence, asking about causes, division, and composition of ideas, classification, analogical thinking, communicating with proper language, communicating with elegant language appropriate to the circumstances, discerning the unity of knowledge and bearing of knowledge upon other knowledge, following the methods that are proper to each academic discipline, right use of freedom in intellectual pursuits, and concern for the common good. These approaches harmonize with human nature and aid in complete human flourishing.

Catholic Habits of the Mind

Three ‘habits of mind’ are needed to build the Catholic integrity of an educational program, honor the Catholic intellectual tradition, and put students on the path of true happiness in this world and the next.

Thinking with Faith

Faith is the trust we have in something we do not see, based on the authority and credibility of the source, which is generally a person.[15] An example of human faith is to believe that Alaska exists without ever having been there based on the credibility of others and their testimony. Certitude is not personally confirmed, but the will and the intellect join to assent to the truth that Alaska is a place based on the credibility of witnesses.

Faith becomes supernatural when we are disposed to it through the sacraments and grace, and the matter is based on Divine Revelation from God Himself. Here the will and the intellect are turned toward God, the evidence being the witness of holy men and women, the prophets, the saints, the Apostles, and Jesus Christ. St. John Paul II, in his discussion of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, writes:

According to the Apostle, it was part of the original plan of the creation that reason should without difficulty reach beyond the sensory data to the origin of all things: the Creator. But because of the disobedience by which man and woman chose to set themselves in full and absolute autonomy in relation to the One who had created them, this ready access to God the Creator diminished. (Fides et Ratio, 1998, 22)

While we have not seen the eternal kingdom, we believe, with the supernatural help of grace through faith, that it exists, so we continue to journey toward that deeper, fuller understanding of God’s plan for us as imparted in Divine Revelation. In faith, the indivisible unity between the intellect and will is more easily discerned. St. Augustine is credited with saying, “believe so that you may understand.”[16] This is the goal of Catholic education: to open the door of faith for students to behold the transcendental realities through learning, discussion, experience, service, and sacraments. It is essential that students cultivate the intellectual and moral habits of being that predispose them to an encounter with faith through learning opportunities and discussions of the importance and validity of faith as a way of knowing. 

In public education, the discussion of faith is limited. The material sciences are held up as the highest and most privileged ways of knowing, and students are taught that knowledge of truth is limited to what can be physically seen, weighed, or measured. While this is a valid way of knowing, it is not the only means of knowing.

Whereas modern society and most secular education today define truth according to consensus and experience, the Catholic educator understands that truth is the conformity of the mind and reality and that all truth proceeds from God. The human intellect is intended to be ordered to truth, and reason allows the intellect to rise above consensus and experience to better know God, His ways, and His creation.

Aquinas says that both the light of reason and the light of faith come from God and work to contribute to the understanding of Divine Revelation and ultimate truth. St. John Paul II writes:

Faith therefore has no fear of reason but seeks it out and has trust in it. Just as grace builds on nature and brings it to fulfillment, so faith builds upon and perfects reason. Illumined by faith, reason is set free from the fragility and limitations deriving from the disobedience of sin and finds the strength required to rise to the knowledge of the Triune God. (Fides et Ratio, 43)

What more fitting place to champion faith as a means of knowing than in a Catholic school? Enlightened by faith, Catholic education teaches habits that form students not only for knowing but also for apprehending the transcendental realities that give ultimate meaning to this life as souls are prepared for the next.

Thinking Philosophically

Saint John Henry Newman taught that the essence of education is cultivation of the intellect for its own sake. He argued that education should cultivate a “philosophical habit of mind” that reasons upon knowledge rather than simply accumulating information from experience and creatively expressing one’s feelings and desires. Education teaches the student to “ascend” above knowledge to new levels of understanding by the right use of reason. He wrote, “…in order to have possession of truth at all, we must have the whole truth; and no one science, no two sciences, no one family of science, nay, not even all secular science, is the whole truth…” (Discourse 4). Instead, God is “a fact encompassing, closing in upon, absorbing, every other fact conceivable.”

Reason needs to be cultivated not only as a logical tool for problem-solving but also as a means of attaining truths foundational to reality and larger than experience—as in contemplation of the natural and eternal law. Collaboration to find solutions and clear communication is necessary, but a Catholic school will want to put additional emphasis on dialectic and persuasion for the purpose of reasoning toward higher truths.

Dialectic is a discussion of seemingly conflicting things that appear to be true at the same time. It is a method of dialogue that aims to arrive at truth instead of defeating or persuading an opponent. It is associated with the Socratic method and the methods of medieval scholastics, including St. Thomas Aquinas. Educators can also teach the Topics of Invention.

The Topics of Invention are a method of classical rhetoric used to examine all aspects of a subject in the context of its circumstances, attributes, and relation to other subjects. Knowledge from an authoritative source – including the Catholic Church – is also used as a valid means of seeking the truth of a thing. Adding the habit of ‘thinking philosophically’ allows for rational dialogue and “ascending” to the higher truths of God, which ought to be the outcome of an integrated Catholic education.

Valuing and Seeking the Transcendent

Catholic education should also ensure that student thinking is oriented toward assigning value and meaning to what is being considered, and students should recognize that transcendent realities are among those things. Pope Francis has noted that:

For me, the greatest crisis of education, in the Christian perspective, is being closed to transcendence. We are closed to transcendence. It is necessary to prepare hearts for the Lord to manifest Himself, but totally, namely, in the totality of humanity, which also has this dimension of transcendence.[17]

Traditionally, in Catholic education, subjects are taught not merely as vehicles for the conveyance of content knowledge and technical skills. Catholic education helps “the pupil to assimilate skills, knowledge, intellectual methods and moral and social attitudes, all of which help to develop his personality and lead him to take his place as an active member of the community of man.”[18]

In Catholic education, the Catholic faith increases students’ understanding, and moral formation increases learning. Processes and methodologies should not thwart the opportunity for students to go beyond the pragmatic, utilitarian, and material world. Church documents are filled with discussions regarding the formative value of all education. For instance:

The Catholic teacher, therefore, cannot be content simply to present Christian values as a set of abstract objectives to be admired, even if this be done positively and with imagination; they must be presented as values which generate human attitudes, and these attitudes must be encouraged in the students. Examples of such attitudes would be these: a freedom which includes respect for others; conscientious responsibility; a sincere and constant search for truth; a calm and peaceful critical spirit; a spirit of solidarity with and service toward all other persons; a sensitivity for justice; a special awareness of being called to be positive agents of change in a society that is undergoing continuous transformation. (Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, #29-30)

Catholic education focuses on the formation of the intellect, will, and soul of the student. It allows opportunities for students to ponder God’s omnipotence and love and his personal relationship with them. It is a specific charge for Catholic teachers to teach to the transcendent in a way that goes beyond abstraction, naming, listing attributes, and so forth and prepares a human soul for an encounter with real things—something secular schools cannot do.

The integral formation of the human person, which is the purpose of education, includes the development of all the human faculties of the students, together with preparation for professional life, formation of ethical and social awareness, [and] becoming aware of the transcendental, and religious education. (The Catholic School, #17)

The transcendentals of truth, beauty, and goodness can assist in determining value. Transcendentals are timeless and universal attributes of being. They are the properties inherent to all beings.[19]

The pursuit of truth, defined as the mind in accord with reality,[20] is a foundation of Catholic education and is a significant component of the Newman Society’s Catholic Curriculum Standards. From the Congregation for Catholic Education (1997) we read, “Various school subjects do not present only knowledge to be attained, but also values to be acquired and truths to be discovered. All of which demands an atmosphere characterized by the search for truth” (#14). Man, by his nature, is made to seek the truth.[21] For instance, the Catholic Curriculum Standards expect students to “Analyze how the pursuit of scientific knowledge, for utilitarian purposes alone or for the misguided manipulation of nature, thwarts the pursuit of authentic Truth and the greater glory of God.”

What is true is also beautiful. As a timeless and universal attribute of being, beauty helps evoke wonder, awe, and delight of the soul leading to philosophical and theological questions like, “How can something so beautiful exist?”  “Is this beauty only meaningful to me?” “Who created all of this?” and so forth. Catholic education—with its focus on the transcendentals of truth, beauty, and goodness—already teaches wonder as more than an intellectual satisfaction; it is an invitation to think beyond creation and seek the reality – and mystery – of the wisdom of God who created all that we know and experience.

Finally, in Catholic education, we know that the true and the beautiful are also related to all that is good. A thing is “good” when it exercises the powers, activities, and capacities which perfect it. In Catholic education, we also call human action good when all components of the action are noble and virtuous. Habits of Mind tends toward some of these same ends in an aspirational sort of way, but a robust Catholic education can thoughtfully and wholly fulfill the mission of intellectual formation within its own paradigm that looks to the transcendent.


When choosing specific approaches to Catholic education, it is important to understand the nature of the human person and use that understanding as the foundation for any education program.[22] Humanity has been gifted with faculties that work in specific ways. Education works best when it follows a natural order and engages the student’s will and emotions in the learning endeavor. As an embodied soul, it is essential that the whole person—the intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual—be ordered so that students can better understand themselves as effective and flourishing human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, and heirs to the eternal kingdom.

Catholic educators interested in cultivating habits of mind might consider incorporating the intellectual and dispositional standards from the Catholic Curriculum Standards, in addition to a Catholic school’s virtue and catechetical program. Standards such as, “Evaluate how history is not a mere chronicle of human events, but rather a moral and meta-physical drama having supreme worth in the eyes of God,” and, “Display personal self-worth and dignity as a human being and as part of God’s ultimate plan of creation,” elevate a student’s thought from the here and now to the eternal.

Catholic schools choosing to highlight the transcendental concepts of truth, beauty, and goodness, which are also embedded in the Catholic Curriculum Standards, will naturally use and develop many of the intellectual behaviors appropriate to a well-formed Catholic student. The Catholic Curriculum Standards seek to form dispositions toward:

  • demonstration of Catholic moral virtues;
  • ardent pursuit of the truth of things and the rejection of relativism;
  • value of the human body as a temple of the Holy Spirit;
  • dignity of the human person and primacy of care and concern for all stages of life;
  • care and concern for the environment as part of God’s creation;
  • appreciation of the beauty of well-crafted prose and poetry, historical artifacts and cultures, the order of creation, and the proportion, radiance, and wholeness present within mathematics; and
  • appreciation for the power of literature, the story of history, and the discoveries of science and how through interaction with them one can identify and choose the personal and collective good.

Using faithful curriculum standards, teaching the Catholic habits of mind described here, and providing a solid virtue program will help ensure a proper Catholic education program.


Denise Donohue, Ed.D., is Vice President of Educator Resources and Evaluation and Patrick Reilly is President and founder of The Cardinal Newman Society, which promotes and defends faithful Catholic education.

[1] A. D. Sertillanges The Intellectual Life (Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1960) at (accessed on Jan. 21, 2021).

[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1993) 1803.

[3] Arthur L. Costa, “Describing the Habits of Mind,” in Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick (eds.), Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind (Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2008)16. Retrieved at (accessed on Oct. 15, 2020).

[4] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Q. 57, Art.1 at (accessed on Jan. 21, 2021).

[5] See the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist, Disciple of Christ: Education in Virtue program’s list of virtues to learn in a Catholic school at (accessed on Jan. 21, 2021).

[6] St. Thomas Aquinas, De veritate 27, 5 ad 5.

[7] Sr. Teresa Auer, O.P., Called to Happiness: Guiding Ethical Principles (Third ed.) (Nashville, Tenn.: St. Cecilia Congregation, 2013), 163.

[8] See Auer (2013) 156 for examples.

[9] See Martin Augustine Waldron, “Virtue,” The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 15 (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912) at (accessed on Oct. 23, 2020) for definitions of the intellectual virtues.

[10] Aristotle, Metaphysics 1.982b.

[11] Anders Schinkel, “The Educational Importance of Deep Wonder” (2017), Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 51, No. 2 (2017), 543.

[12] Schinkel, 544.

[13] Newman frequently references this passage from Psalm 2:11 in his works.

[14] St. John Henry Newman, “Sermon 2: Reverence, a Belief in God’s Presence” 26 at (accessed on Jan. 21, 2021).

[15] St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (1998) 33.

[16] Fr. David Pignato, “The Primacy of Faith and the Priority of Reason: A Justification for Public Recognition of Revealed Truth,” The Saint Anselm Journal, 12.2 (Spring 2017) 52-65.

[17] “Pope’s Q and A on the Challenges of Education,” ZENIT (Nov. 23, 2015) at (accessed on Jan. 21, 2021).

[18] Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, The Catholic School (Vatican, 1977) 39.

[19] See “Educating to Truth, Beauty and Goodness” from The Cardinal Newman Society at

[20] Aquinas, De Veritate, Q.1, A. 1-3; cf. Summa Theologiae, Q. 16.

[21] See Fr. Robert Spitzer, New Proofs for the Existence of God (Grand Rapids: MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2010) 259-266.

[22] For further reading, we recommend the following resources: Auer (2013); Luigi Guisanni, The Risk of Education: Discovering Our Ultimate Destiny (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1995); Curtis Hancock, Recovering a Catholic Philosophy of Elementary Education (Mount Pocono, PA: Newman House Press, 2005); and St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (1998).

Copyright © 2023 The Cardinal Newman Society, 10432 Balls Ford Road, Ste. 300, Manassas, Virginia 20109, (703) 367-0333, Permission to reprint without modification.


piggy bank

Graduate Scholarships Available to Alumni of Newman Guide Colleges

Are you planning to pursue graduate studies? Seniors and alumni of faithful Newman Guide-recommended colleges should know of these scholarship opportunities offered especially for them. And if you are still in high school but have plans someday for graduate school, you might consider a Newman Guide college to take advantage of these great opportunities.

Business Administration

Benedictine College, which is recommended in The Newman Guide, is located in Atchison, Kan. It offers a scholarship averaging $10,000 on a rolling basis to graduates of Newman Guide-recommended colleges entering the Master of Business Administration program online or on-site. More than 45 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 college, 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. 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 college 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.


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 a “Cardinal Newman Full Tuition Scholarship” with a one-time “Cardinal Newman Stipend” of up to $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. Thirteen students received the scholarship in 2020, 12 in 2019 and in 2018, 15 in 2017 and six in 2016. The application deadline is April 15 for the summer start program and 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 colleges are committed to a faithful Catholic education. While the approach differs from college to college, it is the constant presence of an authentic Catholic life and strong curriculum that makes these students a perfect fit for our school.


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 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.”


A Checklist for Growing Your Faith

Participate in Mass

Bishop Ricken

There are frequent opportunities for you to have a personal encounter with Jesus on campus. This occurs most immediately in the Eucharist. Regular Mass attendance helps strengthen your faith through the Scriptures, the Creed, other prayers, sacred music, the homily, receiving Communion and being part of a faith community.

Go to Confession

Like going to Mass, you will find strength and grow deeper in your faith through participation in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Confession urges people to turn back to God, express sorrow for falling short and open their lives to the power of God’s healing grace. It forgives the injuries of the past and provides strength for the future.

Learn about the lives of the saints

The saints are timeless examples of how to live a Christian life, and they provide endless hope. Not only were they sinners who kept trying to grow closer to God, but they also exemplify ways a person can serve God: through teaching, missionary work, charity, prayer and simply striving to please God in the ordinary actions and decisions of daily life.

Read the Bible daily

Scripture offers first-hand access to the Word of God and tells the story of human salvation. You can pray the Scriptures (often times in a group setting in dorms or led by your campus chaplain) to become more attuned to the Word of God. Either way, the Bible is a must for helping you sustain and grow your faith during college.

Read the documents of the Church

College is a time of learning and studying, and expanding your knowledge of our Catholic faith is an important part of that. To become the kind of well-formed person you surely wish to be, you must understand what the Church really teaches and how it enriches the lives of believers.

Study the Catechism

The Catechism of the Catholic Church covers the beliefs, moral teachings, prayer and sacraments of the Catholic Church in one volume. It’s a resource for growing in understanding of the faith. Another helpful resource is the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults (USCCA).

Volunteer in campus ministry

Growing your faith can’t only be about study and reflection. The solid grounding of the Scriptures, Church teachings and the Catechism must translate into action. Campus ministry is a great place to start, and each person’s gifts help build up the community. Helping others brings Catholics face-to-face with Christ and creates an example for the rest of the world.

Invite a friend to Mass

A personal invitation can make all the difference to someone who has drifted from the faith or feels alienated from the Church. Everyone knows people like this, so everyone can extend a loving welcome.

Incorporate the Beatitudes into daily life

The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) provide a rich blueprint for Christian living. Their wisdom can help you to be more humble, patient, just, transparent, loving, forgiving and free. It’s precisely the example of lived faith needed to make your campus years a time of your life that you will remember fondly for years to come.

Originally published Jan. 1, 2015.

Thomas More College of Liberal Arts

Distance Learning Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

It’s been a strange and difficult semester for Catholic schools and colleges. Our institutions offer a unique social, spiritual, and intellectual formation that depends on personal presence, but students have been exiled from our classrooms, chapels, and athletic fields.

For Catholic educators who have struggled to build on the strong relationships formed in the first three quarters of the school year, the serious limitations of distance education are obvious. And as the academic year draws to a close, it’s a good time to consider how the sudden and temporary change from a traditional classroom education to distance education may have affected student formation.

But before we do so, we would be remiss not to recognize one very important benefit to the temporarily forced distance between educator and student: this experience of exile has surely helped our families and educators better appreciate the amazing gift of an “in-person” Catholic education. We yearn for it, because we know that it is good, and we realize how much we love what has been taken away from us.

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine…

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.”

For Catholic Schools, Now’s a Time to Shine

For students and educators, these are difficult times. But in hard times, Catholics shine — and that’s certainly true now for Catholic schools.

Across America, most schools have adjusted to the COVID-19 shutdown by shifting to distance learning via webinars and emails. While this may suffice for teaching basic facts and skills, Catholic educators are striving to do more. The best Catholic education goes well beyond worksheets and quizzes — it provides formation for life and beyond.

“Learning is simply not a transactional endeavor,” says Derek Tremblay, headmaster of Mount Royal Academy in Sunapee, New Hampshire, which is one of the schools recognized by the Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll for their strong Catholic identity.

“Instead of putting teachers and students in front of devices for hours upon hours, we are inviting students to pause, pray and ponder,” Tremblay says. “If we are to become who God made us to be, we have to be willing to think more deeply about meaning and moments.”

Such is what makes Catholic education special, whether in the classroom or over the internet: forming students in faith, virtue and wisdom, not just knowledge. A devotion to truth, both discovered by man and revealed by God. A Christian community of people who truly care for students’ entire well-being—mind, body and soul.

“The toughest question to answer in this odd reality of remote learning is the most rudimentary: is this exercise meaningful?” asks Tremblay, who warns of the limitations of Zoom instruction. “We are meant for personal encounter. There is so much to be lost if all we do right now is mimic the misplaced urge to move along, cover curriculum and gather grades.”

Opportunity for Reflection

That’s why many faithful Catholic schools have made changes during this time of social distancing that are substantially different from other schools.

Students’ days are no longer filled with direct interactions with teachers and classmates, community prayer and Sacrament, and after-school events. It is in classroom dialogues and group activities when Catholic schools are at their best, teaching and witnessing to Christian ideals. So Catholic schools are adapting and finding ways of “keeping it Catholic” while students are far apart, without letting education decline into cold remote lectures and tedious homework.

One excellent innovation is Mount Royal Academy’s new, weekly essay assignment for students, which isn’t focused on mastering content but encourages students to reflect more deeply. One essay prompt asks students to reflect on which virtues have been the most challenging for them to exercise lately, noting that “virtue is grown during challenging times.” Another prompt asks students to reflect on both the social and individual nature of education, since students have transitioned to at-home learning.

With just this simple assignment, students are finding meaning in their current circumstances. A seventh-grade student writes that he has learned the value of “having a slower lifestyle, because there are fewer distractions which allow for more personal reflection.”

“Having faith in the Lord gives us hope when we need it most,” he writes. “I have certainly gained a new perspective on life through this experience. Overall, I feel blessed for what I have and hope we are stronger after this is over.”

A ninth-grade student writes that he has found himself “not only doing things differently, but also thinking about things from a different perspective.” He has found time to practice playing the piano, connect with siblings who are away from home, and even read the Gospels. “So far I have finished the whole Gospel of Matthew and half of the Gospel of Mark.”

Formation of Mind, Body and Soul

At another faithful Catholic school — Saint Theresa Catholic School in Sugar Land, Texas — leaders are finding ways to engage students from a distance.

One of the “distinctive aspects” of the classical Catholic education at St. Theresa “has always been direct student engagement with topics in ways that augment physical, auditory and visual stimulation,” says Headmaster Mark Newcomb. The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired a new method of integrating the senses, through a collaboration between Latin class and physical education.

“For the past few weeks, students are sent a video that opens with both a vocal recited prayer and a Latin chant that highlight the life of one of the saints, before introducing physical activities that are described in Latin terminology,” Newcomb explains.

“Students strive to master Latin vocabulary through total physical response, performing leaps while reciting saltus (leap) several times in a row. Mini-workouts follow the vocabulary drills, complete with timed rests between kicks, pushups, etc.,” he says.

The new initiative developed by the school’s talented faculty has been well-received by parents, Newcomb says. “How helpful to exercise the mind and the body at once, for the benefit of both, while reflecting on the heritage of our faith.”

Creative Solutions

At Everest Collegiate High School and Academy in Clarkston, Michigan, teachers are going above and beyond their regular catechism courses for students. They are also providing resources and ideas for students and parents to use with each other to engage in the faith, taking advantage of the increased time that families have together at home.

“These resources and initiatives are being provided to the families each week, allowing them to learn together, to pray together and to share back their photos in solidarity,” says Everest Headmaster Greg Reichert.

“During Holy Week, for example, Everest families had the opportunity to participate in a ‘Walk the Walk’ challenge during which they were guided through the process of preparing Stations of the Cross within their homes that could then be prayed as a family,” Reichert says.

At St. Mary Catholic School in Mokena, Illinois, a teacher recently used a common food item to teach an important faith lesson and engage with students.

“On St. Patrick’s Day, teacher Deanna Wolff… shared with her fifth-graders how the shamrock represents the Blessed Trinity, by creating one out of round pretzels,” reports the Diocese of Joliet. “She invited them to also make shamrocks out of materials they had at home and to send her photos of their creations.”

At St. John Paul II Catholic High School in Tallahassee, Florida, the whole school participates in prayer at 7:55 a.m. each morning via Zoom. They pray a morning offering, followed by a special prayer for an end to the coronavirus and for all of those affected. One of the school’s service clubs, the Squirettes of Mary, has continued its weekly Rosary online.

And at St. Patrick Catholic School in White Lake, Michigan, Principal Jeremy Clark posts a daily Gospel reading and a reflection each day on the school’s Facebook page. Some schools, like St. Paul on the Lake Catholic School in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, are recording and sharing daily Masses.

Maintaining Catholic Identity

Despite the limitations of distance learning, the best Catholic schools are finding every possible way of maintaining their Catholic identity.

In the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, Superintendent Dr. Daniel Baillargeon is posting a daily YouTube video called “Keep the Faith.” A school in the diocese has also created a Facebook page called “Faith and Fun from Home,” so that families can connect and share ideas.

“While it has been challenging to keep the faith at the center of what we are doing in a remote learning environment, we have noticed that the majority of the information shared by our schools has been related to the faith,” Baillargeon says. “We have seen videos with images of students sharing the faith at home, and the most active posts we have on our social media pages have been faith-driven.”

Indeed, the forced break away from the classroom could be a good reminder to Catholic educators to emphasize the most important things, especially when students are living in doubt and fear. Catholic education’s success begins with its Catholic mission, at all times but especially in these times.

“There is a desire for the faith community present in our schools,” Baillargeon says. “My hope is that when we are together again, we reflect on these lessons learned and are even more intentional about how we provide strong Catholic identities in our schools.”

This article first appeared at The National Catholic Register.

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…

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…

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.