Good Seed: Standards for Christian Anthropology Released

Two weeks ago, on a video call from Rome to Florida, Dr. Joan Kingsland and Dr. Denise Donohue wrapped up a most important project: educational standards for grades K-8 based on St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body teachings. The Standards for Christian Anthropology provide a solid basis for incrementally transmitting a vision of the human person according to God’s loving design.

But the significance of the completion date, May 18, did not strike the authors until later. It was the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Paul II!

The new standards’ simple yet robust framework provides the guidance that has been sought by educators for some time now. The Standards for Christian Anthropology support the curricula published by Ruah Woods Press and complement the Catholic Curriculum Standards published by The Cardinal Newman Society, which cover English language arts, history, scientific topics, and mathematics. The new standards—a collaboration of the two organizations—situate the person in proper context as son or daughter of God, heir to the Eternal Kingdom, and brother or sister to all. Anthony Esolen, Catholic writer and social commentator, said, “If you don’t get man right, you don’t get education right.” The Standards for Christian Anthropology lay the groundwork for “getting man right,” a foundation for other subject areas.

Although this work was begun in 2016, its completion was inspired by the most recent document from the Congregation for Catholic Education, Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education (2019), which addresses the current identity crisis affecting many classrooms today. The Vatican document was generated to present Christian anthropology and to encourage institutions of higher learning and research centers to provide professional development and programs for educators. The Standards for Christian Anthropology are a direct response to this call.

More fundamental than sex ed, Theology of the Body goes deeper, to the heart of personal identity. “It’s a gamechanger for someone to be deeply convinced of their personal self-worth, dignity and purpose, knowing themselves to be infinitely and unconditionally loved by God and called to live in a communion of persons in his image. This self-knowledge includes respecting and revering oneself, others and above all God. It affects the choices made by young people about how they will treat others and expect others to treat them, including in the area of sexuality. It’s a unique, theological approach to Christian anthropology that lays out the pathway to a happy, deeply fulfilled life.” (Introduction to Standards for Christian Anthropology, 2020).

Although these standards were created based on the completed work of Ruah Woods’ ROOTED K-12 curriculum, they also provide guidelines for other publishers and programs. Existing programs might find that their curricula already align to the Standards, or that this would be possible with minor modifications. It is a framework that hopefully will complement already solid religious education standards chosen by Catholic schools and will touch the hearts of young people. Knowing that they are created in the image of the Triune God and are called to live in communion, they will learn that fulfillment comes through a sincere gift-of-self.

View and download the Standards for Christian Anthropology.

Register for an upcoming webinar that will explore the Standards.

For more information, contact Dr. Joan Kingsland ( or Dr. Denise Donohue (


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You’re Invited: Lenten Webinar with Newman Scholar

This Lent, you have a great opportunity to meditate on the mysteries of time, salvation, and God’s protective grace with our patron St. John Henry Newman and his inspiring poem, “Dream of Gerontius.”

Today, Dr. Bernadette Ward will present a webinar with the Institute of Catholic Culture, “I am Near to Death: A Study of Newman’s ‘Dream of Gerontius.’” The Cardinal Newman Society has been thrilled to help arrange this special event, and we hope that you will join us.

You can register here for the webinar that will take place Tuesday, March 31, from 8-9 p.m. ET, with discussion beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Also see our exclusive interview with Dr. Ward below! She is a Newman scholar and professor of English at the University of Dallas, which is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.

Newman Society: A strong Catholic education depends heavily on reading and discussing good literature. In the Newman Society’s guide to literature policies in Catholic K-12 schools, we emphasize literature that helps students learn “what it means to be a fully actualized, good human being” and to know and love God. How does literature serve this purpose at the college level?

Dr. Ward: At the college level, it is vital to engage not only with literature that builds us up but also with literature that shows us the consequences of various ideas—for instance, right now I am reading Frankenstein with my students, and discussing the consequences of calling life into being without respect for the mystery of God’s creative love. The book points readers to that mystery in allusions to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Of course, one can also read more complex writings, from historical backgrounds that require a stretch of the imagination to inhabit, Renaissance sensibilities or medieval sensibilities that require a transformation of the way we envision the cosmos. That’s very good for people who are often stuck in our narrow present time, in a cold universe unconcerned, as far as their culture tells them, with love and beauty.

Newman Society: You are an expert on St. John Henry Newman’s poem “Dream of Gerontius” and will be presenting a webinar about it on March 31. Can you explain the lessons that this poem teaches Catholics, especially during this holy season of Lent?

Dr. Ward: John Henry Newman kept his eye steadily on the most important matters: death and judgment, heaven and hell, and his relationship with God. The centrality of that, and how to cope with the loss of literally everything, on one’s way to God—these are some of the important things Newman is dealing with, along with the final impotence of evil and the joy of even suffering for the sake of seeing God. Our culture does not value suffering much; Newman did.

Newman Society: This time of “social distancing” might be a good opportunity for Catholics to acquaint themselves with good literature. Not many people are aware of St. John Henry Newman’s fiction and poetry. Do you have any special recommendations?

Dr. Ward: Other poems, such as “A Word in Season,” “Lead, Kindly Light” (“The Pillar of the Cloud”) or “The Sign of the Cross” are all available at for free. Frankly, his sermons are a lot better than his novels. Try “Ventures of Faith” for starters.

Faithful Catholic Colleges March to ‘Defend Innocent Life’

“We journey to Washington D. C. together to defend innocent life, and we find ourselves greatly edified,” says Magdalena Danja, a senior at The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, N.H., about the College’s pilgrimage to the March for Life, taking place this Friday, January 24.

“It is a beautiful thing to see so many young people from all over the country coming together for the same purpose, and to experience the camaraderie created by a sleepless night on the road, after which we sing and pray our way up Capitol Hill, banners held high, testifying to the joy which springs from fighting for the true and the right,” she continues.

It certainly is a beautiful thing—many faithful Catholic colleges are going to great lengths to witness at this year’s March for Life. Thomas More College will be cancelling classes during the March, and other Catholic colleges recommended in The Newman Guide will be, too.

The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., cancelled classes for the first-time last year and is continuing the tradition this year, expecting more than 500 students to attend the March. Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., has cancelled classes during the March every year since its founding more than 40 years ago, so that its entire student body of nearly 500 students can attend.

Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, N.H., also cancels classes and offers travel scholarships for students to attend, and the new east coast campus of Thomas Aquinas College in Northfield, Mass., which opened this year, will cancel classes this Friday so that its entire student body can attend.

Some of the groups traveling the furthest distances, more than 1,000 miles, include Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla., Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., and the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. All three of the colleges will be bringing more than 200 students.

Students from Texas will be present as well. For the first time in several years, the University of Dallas in Irving, Tex., is organizing an official group of 44 students to attend the March, and 40 students—their largest group yet—from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Tex., are flying to Washington, D.C., for the event.

Three new college presidents will be leading groups to the March: Fr. David Pivonka, TOR, of Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, with 500 students; Fr. Peter Kucer, MSA, of Holy Apostles in Cromwell, Conn., with more than 100 seminarians, religious, students and faculty; and President Tim Collins of Walsh University in Canton, Ohio, with 100 students.

Many of the colleges visit historic and spiritually significant sites, such as the Holocaust Museum, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land to make the trip to Washington, D.C., into a pilgrimage.

More than 100 students, faculty and monks from Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., will be making a pilgrimage to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine before the March. A contingent from Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ontario, will be spending a couple days in D.C. surrounding the March. 

The day after the March for Life, colleges on the west coast will take part in the Walk for Life in San Francisco, Calif., including John Paul the Great Catholic University in Escondido, Calif., Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., and Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyo.

UMary students March for Life

Students Make History at the March for Life

Nearly every year of Simone Kelly’s life, she attended the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, California, with her family. As the president of her high school’s pro-life club, she was intimately involved in the planning of the trip.

This year, Kelly has a different but exciting project on her hands. As a sophomore at the recently opened east coast campus of Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) in Northfield, Massachusetts, Kelly volunteered to help plan the college’s first trip to the March for Life in the nation’s capital.

Classes are canceled at New England campus Jan. 24 so that the entire student body of 58 students, along with faculty, staff and families, can attend the March. TAC has thus joined other faithful Catholic colleges that cancel classes for the March for Life, including The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire, and the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Christendom has been doing so every year since the college’s founding, so that its entire student body can attend.

The TAC contingent will leave campus Thursday night and attend Mass, adoration and confession at a nearby parish before driving through the night to Washington, D.C. Kelly says that everyone on campus is “super excited” for the upcoming trip to defend the unborn, noting that all students raised money to help fund the trip.

Since there are no juniors or seniors on the new campus, Kelly plays a leadership role as a sophomore. Part of the reason why she transferred to the new campus is so that she could help “bring traditions” from TAC’s home campus in California, founded in 1971, while also developing “new traditions.”

The March for Life is a new tradition that Kelly is eager to organize so that “in the years to come, the details will be worked out.” At the west coast campus, the Walk for Life tradition, taking place this year on Jan. 25, is well-established — students from the college have participated in the Walk every year since the event was founded.

For Kelly, the opportunity to make a stand for the unborn makes sense with the “liberating” education she is receiving. “My education is forming me to learn the truth, know the truth and defend the truth,” says Kelly. “Attending the March for Life allows me to live out what I’m learning.”

Other Catholic colleges are making history at this March for Life, too. For the first time in many years, the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, is making an official trip to the March for Life.

“Many students have traveled the 1,300 miles on their own in recent years,” says Mary Kate Tomassi, treasurer of the Crusaders for Life Club, but this year is different. “We have 44 students officially going with UD to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life this year.”

“We have all been working hard to figure out the logistics for this trip, get approval, and fundraise. Thanks to many generous donors, and one in particular who wishes to remain anonymous who matched nearly $8,000 in gifts, we are able to make this important trip,” she continues.

Making the long journey is not for the faint of heart – and students will miss two days of classes. But Tomassi believes it’s important to “stand up” and “witness to the nearly 62 million lives lost and the 62 million families torn apart since 1973” due to abortion.

Beyond the witness of Thomas Aquinas College and the University of Dallas, there are other records being set by faithful Catholic colleges at this year’s March.

Some of the groups traveling the farthest distance with the greatest numbers of students include Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. They will both be traveling more than 1,000 miles to the March, with approximately 250 and 200 students, respectively.

Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, is sending approximately 500 students. A junior at the university, Kyle Taggart, believes that “we have a serious obligation to do everything in our power to fight legalized abortion” given the “gravity of the abortion issue.” His fellow classmates seem to be taking that message to heart.

History will be made at this year’s March for Life, in no small part due to the efforts of faithful Catholic colleges. Let’s pray that this witness leads to a change of minds and hearts — and the law — in our country, and that ultimately the lives of all unborn children will be protected.

This article first appeared at The National Catholic Register.

EWTN: Vatican Insider Interview, Part 2

In the second segment of an interview with Vatican Insider with Joan Lewis on EWTN Catholic Radio, Newman Society President Patrick Reilly and Joan Lewis discuss the work, outreach and challenges of The Cardinal Newman Society, the experience of attending Newman’s canonization in Rome, and the importance of Newman today.

Reilly explained that after decades of secularization, an exciting renewal in Catholic education is underway, through faithful Catholic institutions and innovative programs such as homeschooling, hybrid schools, and online academies.

Amidst these hopeful times, Reilly said there is still much work to do to help Catholic institutions fully embrace their Catholic identity. Speaking on the importance of Newman, Reilly explained that Newman was very prophetic and warned of a time when the Church would not only have to confront other ideas about God but a total rejection of God altogether, which is where we are today.

“It’s a real challenge, but [Newman] saw it and prepared us for it. I strongly encourage people to read Newman because I think he gives us tools that we can use to address this.”

EWTN: Vatican Insider Interview, Part 1

Newman Society President Patrick Reilly was recently hosted on Vatican Insider with Joan Lewis, on EWTN Catholic Radio. During this segment of the interview, they discussed a number of topics, including what inspired Reilly to begin The Cardinal Newman Society and why he chose Cardinal John Henry Newman as a patron for the organization.

Reilly discussed the timeliness of Newman’s canonization, especially in light of the Saint’s lifelong fight against liberalism in religion and the many challenges facing Catholic institutions today.  

Joan commented: “Few colleges today closely resemble his- and this is the title of something he wrote- ‘Idea of a University.’ If anything comes close to Newman’s vision today it would have to be those faithful Catholic colleges recommended in the Newman Guide… These are models for the renewal of Catholic education, largely according to Newman’s vision and their continued effort towards bringing his ideas to fruition are a blessing to the entire Church.”

Listen to the full recording below.

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Honors Newman Society in Rome

Editor’s Note: On October 15, 2019, a reception was hosted in honor of The Cardinal Newman Society and the canonization of St. John Henry Newman at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See in Rome. Dignitaries present included ambassadors to the Holy See from England (Sally Axworthy), Honduras (Carlos Avila Molina) and South Korea (Joseph Lee Baek Man); Joan Lewis, EWTN Rome Correspondent; and Kent Hill, co-founder of the Religious Freedom Institute.

“Tonight we’re gathered to honor the Cardinal Newman Society,” said U.S. Ambassador Callista Gingrich. “Named in honor of Saint John Henry Newman, the Cardinal Newman Society supports education that is true to the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church.”

Ambassador Gingrich also recognized Major General Patrick Brady, one of America’s most decorated living veterans, who was present at the event. She thanked him for his service and said that it “speaks well of the Cardinal Newman Society to have someone like General Brady as a member.”

In her remarks, Ambassador Gingrich reflected on how St. John Henry Newman was a devoted teacher and “lifelong advocate for education, reason, and the discovery of truth.” Newman’s legacy is “preserved through organizations like the Cardinal Newman Society, which work diligently to promote Saint Newman’s vision for Catholic schools and colleges in the United States and around the world,” she continued.

Ambassador Gingrich’s full address can be read here.

Newman Society President Patrick Reilly also made the following remarks at the special event:

Thank you, Ambassador Gingrich and Mr. Gingrich, for graciously welcoming us to Rome.

We are Catholic pilgrims from the United States, under the sponsorship of The Cardinal Newman Society, which promotes and defends faithful Catholic education at all levels—elementary, secondary, and higher education.

We are delighted to be here to celebrate the canonization of Saint John Henry Newman, who championed faithful Catholic education and had a wonderful relationship with American Catholics during his lifetime.

It was 140 years ago, when many Americans came here to Rome to celebrate Newman’s elevation to cardinal. Today we are grateful to once again represent American Catholics in celebrating Cardinal Newman, upon his canonization and together with our Ambassador to the Holy See.

Ambassador Gingrich, as you know, Catholic education is important to America. It prepares young people to be valuable and virtuous citizens. And for Catholic families, it is much more. It is our means of teaching our faith and forming young people for sainthood.

But Catholic education today faces increasing attacks on the freedom of Catholic educators to teach and witness to the Catholic faith. Religious freedom is a natural freedom, and it is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

I hope therefore that you will convey to President Trump and his Administration our gratitude for standing strong in defense of religious freedom. We applaud President Trump’s recent address to the United Nations, as well as Attorney General William Barr’s address last Friday, defending religious freedom. We also applaud the Administration’s strong stand before the U.S. Supreme Court against forcing the redefinition of human sexuality, even to the point of violating the religious freedom of authentic Catholic education.

Thank you Ambassador Gingrich! It is a great honor and privilege for us to be welcomed into your home.

May God bless America. Thank you!

Rome Reports Video

Video: Newman Society’s Pilgrimage for Patron’s Canonization

Rome Reports recently featured The Cardinal Newman Society’s pilgrimage to Rome for the canonization of St. John Henry Newman. You can read the transcript at or watch the full video below:

One Word Could Erode Catholic Education

In three amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court filed last month, the bishops and Catholic educators—together with other major religious groups—urged the Court to uphold the meaning of “sex.”

It’s one little word. But if the Court gets it wrong, our religious freedom could be quickly eroded.

And while all Catholics and Catholic institutions would be endangered, there is a double threat to Catholic education: both to the integrity of its employees, and to its ability to teach young people the authentic Catholic faith.

Continue reading at Crisis Magazine…

EWTN Radio: Newman Society Discusses Recent Pew Study Findings and More

Newman Society President Patrick Reilly was recently hosted on The Good Fight with Barbara McGuigan on EWTN radio. During the first hour of the show, they discussed a number of topics, including the recent Pew Study that found that only 26 percent of U.S. Catholics under age 40 believe in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist.

Faithful Catholic education is a key solution to restoring belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. “There are a variety of ways of teaching, the point is that teaching and formation has to happen and we cannot compromise on that, ” said Reilly.

“Every single young person who is baptized must understand the Eucharist, must love the Eucharist, must devote their life to the Eucharist. And if that’s not happening, then we are failing,” he continued.

Listen to the full recording here.