Monthly Archives: January 2013

Federal Government Could Exempt Some College Student Health Plans

Inside Higher Education is reporting of an unexpected proposal by the Department of Health and Human Services that will allow student health plans self-funded by colleges to qualify as “minimum essential coverage” under the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirement that individual Americans must participate in a qualified health plan. The proposed regulation would exempt such plans from the requirements imposed on other student health plans. The proposal would affect only about 30 private and public research universities that self-fund their student health insurance plans.

The article by Doug Lederman, points out that some consumer advocates are concerned that additional institutions may seek to self-fund their plans as a way to avoid new requirements.

“Without federal protections and only minimal state oversight, self-funded plans are free to discriminate based on preexisting conditions, offer limited coverage with low annual limits on benefits, and commit a number of consumer abuses that the ACA was designed to eliminate,” said a health care advocacy group report issued last summer.

Observers, however, don’t feel that’s very likely.

“If a university is currently buying or contributing to a student insurance plan, they might decide to self-fund,” said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom. “A lot of schools don’t feel the need to fund a student plan.”

In fact, some schools, such as Franciscan University of Steubenville, in response to the ACA and HHS’ contraceptive mandate, decided to drop its requirement that students purchase insurance coverage.

“In mid-April, Franciscan sent a letter to parents and students, informing them that with the threat of the HHS mandate looming and the immediate cost to students rising rapidly, it would no longer require students to have health insurance,” a May 23 Franciscan University of Steubenville statement said. “Because of that, the letter went on to explain, it would also no longer be able to offer students the option of purchasing health insurance through the University.”

According to the Inside Higher Education article, the federal government’s proposal would affect many of the Ivy League institutions and the University of California system which operate self-funded student health plans.

John Paul the Great University Film Professor May Have Ad Aired During Superbowl

John Paul the Great University film professor Nathan Scoggins and his team created an ad called “Fashionista Daddy,” a Top 5 finalist for Doritos ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ commercial competition. Students and alumni at John Paul the Great were heavily involved in the production of the commercial. The winning ad will play during the Super Bowl.

John Paul the Great University has a special commitment to state-of-the-art technology and software to prepare students for futures in business, filmmaking, and other “new media,” with a firm grounding in the liberal arts and faithful Catholic theology.

Take a look at the hilarious commercial:

Fashionista Daddy has been featured on Good Morning America, CNN and Yahoo TV’s Favorite.

The Cardinal Newman Society promotes John Paul the Great Catholic University in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.

Thomas Aquinas College Unveils Renderings of New Classroom Building

The image depicts St. Gladys Hall from the rear, as it will be seen from the new plaza overlooking the athletic field, with Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel in the background.

The image depicts St. Gladys Hall from the rear, as it will be seen from the new plaza overlooking the athletic field, with Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel in the background.

In anticipation of the upcoming groundbreaking ceremony for St. Gladys Hall, Thomas Aquinas College has unveiled commissioned artist’s renderings of the new classroom building. The renderings are the work of Domiane Forte, principal of Forte & Associates, an architectural firm based in Santa Paula, Calif., and 2000 graduate of the College. The design architect for the project is Scott Boydstun of Rasmussen and Associates in Ventura, Calif., who has designed 10 of the 12 permanent buildings on campus.

As part of the construction project, the College will complete the last remaining section of the colonnade, thus connecting St. Gladys Hall to the Library and the Chapel, giving the entire quadrangle a finished and permanent appearance. Housing eight classrooms, the new building is designed to facilitate the small, seminar discussions about great books that are at the heart of the College’s unique program.

The renderings will be on prominent display at the Mass and groundbreaking ceremony for St. Gladys Hall, which will take place on April 17. Construction of the new building will begin immediately after Commencement, and St. Gladys Hall should be ready for use by the start of the 2014-5 academic year.

Cardinal Arinze to Discuss Year of Faith at Christendom College

Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, will deliver a talk entitled, The Year of Faith and the Apostolate of the Laity, to students and faculty at Christendom College on February 4, 2013, at 6:00 p.m. The address is part of the College’s Major Speakers Program and will be based on Cardinal Arinze’s forthcoming book examining the role of the laity in transforming the culture.

“This topic is very timely and something dear to us here at Christendom,” College President Dr. Timothy O’Donnell says. “To have the Cardinal here to discuss what is at the heart of our institution’s mission will truly be a highlight of our 35th Anniversary year.”

Arinze will be on campus from January 31 to February 4, celebrating the community Masses and leading spiritual reflections for the Ex corde Ecclesia Presidents Roundtable, a private association of presidents of Catholic universities, colleges, and institutes, who have embraced the vision of Catholic higher education as presented in the Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae.

Cardinal Arinze was ordained a priest in 1958 and was consecrated bishop in 1965. In 1979, his brother bishops elected him president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, a position he held until 1984, when Pope John Paul II asked him to serve as president for the Secretariat for Non-Christians (now the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue). One year later, he was appointed Cardinal by Pope John Paul and, in 1999, he received a gold medallion from the International Council of Christians and Jews for his “outstanding achievements in inter-faith relations.” From 2002-2008, he served as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Cardinal Arinze remains active as a highly sought speaker and catechist, being featured in programs and events that cover Pope John Paul II’s encyclicals and apostolic letters, Vatican II, and many other topics.

The talk, which is open to the public, will be held in the St. Lawrence Commons and will be followed by a reception.

Al Gore to Speak at Dominican University

Former Vice President Al Gore, an abortion rights and homosexual “marriage” advocate will speak at Dominican University on February 13 as part of the University’s 2013 Institute for Leadership Studies (ILS) Spring Leadership Lecture Series.

Gore, chairman of The Climate Reality Project, the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary, and co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize is a radical and outspoken abortion right supporter. In fact, in his run for President of the United States in 1999 Gore reportedly said, “I will always, always defend a woman’s right to choose. Every time Congress has tried to play politics with that fundamental personal right — imposing gag rules, and attaching anti-choice language to any bill they can think of — we have stood up to them and stopped them. If they try it again, we’ll stop them again. And if they try it after the year 2000, with your help, I’ll stop them. That hard-won right will be safe with me as your President.”

In 2008, Gore endorsed homosexual “marriage,” saying, “Shouldn’t we be promoting faithfulness and loyalty to one’s partner regardless of sexual orientation?”

The speaker series is sponsored by the Dominican’s Institute for Leadership Studies as part of its Leadership Lecture Series. Past lecturers include Nancy Pelosi, MSNBC host Chris Matthews, and Caroline Kennedy.

Loyola Chicago Prof Requires Students to Attend Radical Van Jones Lecture

Several students at Loyola University in Chicago reported in a video published at Breitbart that they were “required” by their “environmental sustainability” professor to attend a January 23rd lecture by gay marriage supporting Van Jones.

The event was labeled a “2013 MLK Celebration” in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. In his lecture, Jones talked little about the environment but at length about what he called the “ugly and unequal” founding of our country. He called students to a “new patriotism.”

Nancy C. Tuchman, the Executive Director for the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola, spoke to Breitbart regarding the requirement that students attend the Jones lecture.

We don’t want them to just follow in their parents’ footsteps, or just do whatever their parents told them to do, or vote whatever direction, they were told to vote, we want them to think about stuff and look at stuff and make their own decisions.

I do not think the provost was wrong in saying that this guy has done fabulous stuff for society in a very selfless way, and maybe he goes too far, but he has done stuff that has been valuable to humanity, and you can’t deny that.

And you might say you don’t like what he’s talking about when he’s throwing pot shots at our founding fathers. Okay, there’s probably a lot of stuff that maybe I wouldn’t about him either. I think what the provost was trying to say was, here’s a guy that has really devoted his life to trying to affect change in a really positive way, for humanity.

I think that’s really one of things that we try to do at Loyola is get students to look at how they can devote a part of their life when they leave here. How can they feel responsible for humanity, for the common good, not just for going out and getting a really great job where they can make millions of dollars, and exploit people.

You can read the entire story at Breitbart.

Businessman Says Catholic Education Needs Both Financial and Mission Reform

In an interview with National Catholic Register editor in chief Jeanette De Melo, businessman and entrepreneur Frank Hanna III talks about the state of Catholic education. Hanna served as co-chair of the President George W. Bush Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. He has established three new Catholic schools and has been a consultant on several Catholic educational projects in dioceses throughout the country. Hanna is CEO of Hanna Capital, LLC. Last summer he spoke on “Catholic Education in the Next America: Where Do We Go From Here?” at the Napa Institute.

According to the National Catholic Education Association’s 2011-2012 annual report, in the last 12 years, 1,942 Catholic schools were reported closed or consolidated. The number of students educated in Catholic schools declined by 23.4%.

Hanna said that there needs to be both financial and mission reform to tackle Catholic education. On the issue of examining financing, and the inability of many families to afford a Catholic education for their children, Hanna said:

I think it is worth exploring whether parents should receive the subsidy from the parish or the diocese, rather than the school. In other words, parents who are tithing or who are parish members would receive something of a voucher that they can use at any Catholic school, thereby putting more control into the hands of the parents. Rather than subsidizing schools, we would instead be giving financial help to those parents who need it, and reconsidering whether parents who actually don’t need financial help should still be paying tuition that is subsidized. This is one example of the kind of financial modeling that we might reform.

In addition, Hanna noted that a “reform of mission” is necessary.

At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves: Are we really committed to this project of the Catholic formation of our children?.

First, you define your mission very clearly. In the case of Catholic education in the Church, we say: Our mission as the Church is to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ and to raise our children in the faith so that they can spread the Good News.

It is a biological necessity of any species that it raises its young to learn what they need to know to then be adults. We are not teaching our faith to most of our young baptized Catholics, and so there is no way they can spread the Good News to future generations if we don’t teach it to them.

Once the mission is defined, we have to make it a very high priority.

If we indeed start to focus, we would conclude that, after the providing of the sacraments, Catholic education is the most important priority we have, and until we are fulfilling our duty in this regard, otherwise well-intentioned priorities must be set aside. As long as we are not feeding our children the faith, we are failing in our most fundamental duty.

Whenever a Catholic school does not have as its pre-eminent objective leading children to Christ, and whenever it’s not doing a good job of it, it brings down the reputation of all Catholic schools. And that, too, is a difficult thing for us to face, but it’s a reality.


Sycamore Trust Alumni Group Makes Leadership Changes


The Sycamore Trust – alumni devoted to protecting the Catholic identity of the University of Notre Dame – recently announced changes to their board.  Bill Dempsey, former President, was elected as Chairman of the Sycamore Trust Board. Ed Adams was elected as President. Joe Reich was re-elected as Vice President, and George Heidkamp as Secretary/Treasurer. In addition, Tim Dempsey, co-founder of the Trust, was appointed to the newly-formed position of Executive Director.

The Sycamore Trust was originally founded in 2007 in response to The Vagina Monologues. The Trust’s mission has been to provide a source of information, a means of communication, and a collective voice to Notre Dame alumni and others in the Notre Dame family who are concerned about preserving the Catholic identity of the University.

While the play was the event that gave rise to the Sycamore Trust, the organization admits that the “fundamental problem is the radical weakening of Catholic representation on the faculty.”

“In the mid-1970s Catholic faculty – those who checked the Catholic box on the personnel form – was at 85%,” said Chair Bill Dempsey. “That fell to 53% in 2006, and is presently about 54%, though if you remove those who are non-practicing and/or dissenting, the number is far lower.” Citing the University’s mission statement, Dempsey said, “The University no longer meets its own requirement for Catholic identity.”

Asked about the Sycamore Trust’s concerns, Dempsey said that the University of Notre Dame no longer requires a moral theology course. He also expressed concerns regarding the University’s recent decision regarding the approval of a homosexual student organization.

“The faculty issue is our primary interest,” said Dempsey. “What we hope for is that those in governance will recognize the faculty problem and set reasonable goals to restore, in time, a truly Catholic majority on the faculty.”

“85% of the student body is Catholic. The largest student club is the pro-life club. There is a wonderful, if diminished, core of Catholic faculty there, including many young professors. The law school and the business school have excellent Catholic representation,” said Dempsey. “The school could be the leading higher education center in the world as a true center of Catholic thought and action. It has that potential.”

Bishop Joseph McFadden Describes Catholic Schools as Centers for New Evangelization

In a statement commemorating Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 27 – Feb. 2, Harrisburg, Pa. Bishop Joseph McFadden, Chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Education Committee acknowledged the vital work of Catholic schools and described them as centers for New Evangelization.

“Catholic schools are centers for the New Evangelization for families of a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and diverse cultures,” said Bishop McFadden. “The unique atmosphere of our Catholic schools is a space and place where the New Evangelization can reach out to parents and children in a way that is respectful of the human person, presents the teachings of the Church, and supports family life.”

Bishop Joseph McFadden

Bishop Joseph McFadden

“Catholic schools have a rich history in supporting the work of on-going evangelization of the Catholic community in the United States,” he said. “For more than two centuries Catholic bishops, pastors and parents have educated children in parish and private schools with the intention of offering the life giving Word of the Gospel in an environment that shows respect for the human person, the virtues of good citizenship and academic excellence.”

Catholic schools in the U.S. educate over 2 million students every day. There are 151,395 teachers in over 6,841 K-12 schools.

Bishop McFadden said that “based on public school per pupil cost, Catholic schools save the nation more than $20 billion dollars a year.”

“99% of Catholic high school students graduate each year, 84% of those students go on to graduate from a four-year college,  and 15% of students are from non-Catholic families,” added Bishop McFadden.

More Than Half a Million March for Life

While official figures haven’t yet been released, organizers estimate that between 500,000 and 600,000 people participated in the Jan. 25 March for Life in Washington, D.C., and more than 50,000 participated in the Walk for Life West Coast on Jan. 26. Participation by elementary, high school, and college students was high, particularly from Catholic schools. Students from the University of Notre Dame led the March for Life. Students from Thomas Aquinas College had leadership roles in the Walk for Life West Coast.

University of Notre Dame students were invited to carry the lead banner at the March for Life. (Photo courtesy of Matt Cassens of the St. Blogustine blog)

University of Notre Dame students were invited to carry the lead banner at the March for Life. (Photo courtesy of Matt Cassens of the St. Blogustine blog)

Jan Fox from Serra Catholic High School in McKeesport, PA – a school recognized as a Catholic Honor Roll school – accompanied 37 students to the March. She said she has participated in nearly every March since attending one as an eighth grade student in 1998.

“As a committed Catholic, we should always be optimistic,” Fox told the Washington Post, expressing her hope that abortion will be banned again. “Things can change.”

Mount St. Mary’s University brought more than 280 people on five buses. That number included at least 110 students, more than 170 seminarians, and several faculty members.

Students and seminarians from Mount St. Mary's aboard the bus on their way to the March for Life.

Students and seminarians from Mount St. Mary’s University aboard the bus on their way to the March for Life.

Students from the Mount participated in a Vigil for Life evening retreat before boarding the buses to participate in the March for Life.

“The Vigil preps you for what you are about to face the following morning,” said junior Carolyn Shields. “You’re surrounded with your generation…You start the morning with Mass in the Basilica and you bus off to speak for those that couldn’t. One third of my generation is missing.”

More than half of the student body from the College of Saint Mary Magdalen in Warner, NH traveled 10 hours to take part in the March. It’s one of many ways that Magdalen students support the culture of life. Students have participated in HHS mandate protests, and senior Ava Voisseum, president of Spes Vitae – the college’s pro-life club – addressed the entire Magdalen community on the culture of life.

Students from The College of Saint Mary Magdalen participate in the March for Life.

Students from The College of Saint Mary Magdalen participate in the March for Life.

Christendom College sent its entire student body – some 400 students, faculty, and staff to the March. Students were excited to be a part of the annual demonstration.

“The March is so invigorating because it is a chance to renew our commitment to life with each other and with God,” said senior Stephen Wood. “And there is no better way of living out this commitment than by walking in a spirit of prayer and penitence through the streets of our nation’s capital.”

The College has historically cancelled classes for the day of the March so that the entire school can attend. The student body began the day with morning Mass at Christendom’s Christ the King chapel, then boarded the buses for the drive to Washington. Along the way, students prayed a Rosary for the intentions of the pro-life movement and for an end to abortion.

“Whether it’s your first time to the March or your tenth, it never gets old,” said sophomore Emily Bot, who has attended the March many times. “Being surrounded by thousands of other pro-lifers is an amazing feeling—knowing that we are not alone in the fight—it’s a great experience!”

Students returned from the March with a renewed purpose to continue in the pro-life work that they are active in year-round. Some of these pro-life activities include Students for Life, a club that focuses on supporting the pro-life cause through activism, and Shield of Roses, a student group that prays every Saturday morning in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic in D.C. Students also volunteer their time and talent at the crisis pregnancy center in Front Royal.

In San Francisco, the day after Washington, D.C.’s March for Life, more than 50,000 people participated in the ninth annual Walk for Life West Coast rally.

Among them was Thomas Aquinas College senior Michael Masteller. He wrote about his participation in the Walk for Life at Zenit. He remarked about a protestor’s sign that struck him.

“There was one protestor’s banner that stuck out from all the rest.  On it was written: ‘This walk hates women!’  Naturally, my first response was to think: ‘That’s a lie! Clearly we treat women better than you do.’  Just then, though, the words of Fr. Illo and Archbishop Cordileone appeared in my mind.  I knew that even though we might not commit abortions, we are not totally innocent of dishonoring women—we too are guilty and stand in need of conversion.  Even if we might not be guilty of committing this sin of abortion, how many of us have neglected to defend women from being dishonored?  For myself, I knew that I could be doing a better job at this, for it is usually through a lack of loving on my part that others are not brought to see the Truth.”

Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano delivered a special message to the Walk for Life participants from Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope’s message also went out via Twitter.

“I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life,” said the Pope’s tweet.

“His Holiness is grateful to all those who take part in this outstanding public witness to the fundamental human right to life and to the moral imperative of upholding the inviolable dignity of each member of our human family, especially the smallest and the most defenseless of our brothers and sisters,” Archbishop Vigano told those gathered.

“You are a powerful witness that God’s truth cannot be silenced,” said San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, who blessed participants to begin the event. “Yes, we are here to stay because life is good and life is holy.”

Priest Teaching Atheist Course Aims to Change Catholic Theology and Traditions

Regis College at the University of Toronto is hosting an eight week course on atheism called “Responding to 21st-Century Atheism” with the goal, according to  instructor Fr. Scott Lewis S.J., not being necessarily preparing students to evangelize but to feel “less threatened and more willing to view the challenges of modernity and science as an opportunity for religious traditions to change and grow.”

In an exclusive interview with The Cardinal Newman Society, Fr. Lewis said, “Our theology cannot remain unchanged – it can and must develop in new directions.”

The course description states that a number of faculty of Regis College, including Fr. Lewis, will “explore responses to the challenges presented by contemporary atheism. Eight lectures will discuss the role of Scripture, tradition, theology, psychology and pastoral studies to address the questions about human living posed by today’s culture and climate of disbelief.”

Fr. Lewis said that “preparing people to evangelize is not my concern at the moment.”

In an email exchange, where he was asked about his ambitions for the course, he wrote:

Atheism is one of the most important issues of our time. It is growing and there is a new militancy to the movement. Unfortunately, intolerance, bigotry, and close-minded attitudes abound on both sides of the issues and it is hoped that theists and atheists will be more able to be more respectful of one another and willing from the other side. I felt that a school of theology is the perfect place to address the issues of atheism in our culture.  I am surprised and disappointed that Catholic (and other) theological faculties have been slow to respond.

I would like students to appreciate the breadth and depth of the problem. There are no quick fixes or easy answers. But most of all, I would like them to feel less threatened and more willing to view the challenges of modernity and science as an opportunity for religious traditions to change and grow. We have nothing to fear from truth.

Preparing people to evangelize is not my concern at the moment. My ultimate aim is a respectful dialogue between atheists and non-believers. We need to understand atheism in all its forms and the intellectual basis for it. Evolutionary science is probably the biggest challenge to theism, but psychology, other sciences, as the problem of suffering and injustice also rank high on the list. There are important findings and insights in scientific fields that cannot be ignored or explained away – they are a challenge and invitation to reexamine how we envision God, creation, humanity, and the relationship between them. Our theology cannot remain unchanged – it can and must develop in new directions.

Reportedly, the class has over 150 students.

Fr. Terence Henry Talks about His Tenure as President of Franciscan University of Steubenville

After nearly 13 years, Father Terence Henry is stepping down as President of Franciscan University of Steubenville. Tim Drake, senior editor with the Cardinal Newman Society recently spoke with him about his tenure, Catholic identity, and his contributions to the University.

Father Terence Henry, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Father Terence Henry, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville.

So, it was just announced that you’re moving on at the end of the academic year.

Yes, the winds of change are blowing here at Franciscan. The national norm for a president is six years. I’m looking back on this wonderful opportunity to serve the mission and I have a lot of fond memories. It’s been an awesome blessing to be entrusted with this responsibility.

Given the increasing secularization found in society, and among Catholic colleges and universities, why is fidelity to Catholic identity so vital?

C.S. Lewis once said that the atheist and the Christian hold opposite views about the universe, they both can’t be right, and consequently the one that is wrong will be working to help destroy that universe. The Christian life is the key to unlock a lock. Catholic education has so much to offer people today to escape  moral relativism. Pope Benedict XVI says we’re simply being tossed about. An authentic Catholic education can help people stand on solid foundations and provide the key to life itself.

How does Catholic identity manifest itself at Franciscan University?

Cardinal O’Connor once said it’s easy for the Church to defend a Catholic principle that’s not under attack, but it needs to be at those points of attacks where the culture of death is pressing in. We’ve always asked how we can best serve the Church. We’ve established a Chair in Bioethics. Our theology and philosophy faculty are well established.  Our science courses are rooted in authentic Catholic teaching. That’s how we’re responding to the culture of death.

In what ways might Franciscan be a model for the renewal of Catholic higher education?

We receive our understanding of our vocation and mission from the words spoken to St. Francis – “Francis, go and rebuild my Church.” We see that as so important. Any Catholic school can use that as a guideline.

When the Holy Father spoke at The Catholic University of America, he said that every aspect of a Catholic university campus ought to speak in union with the ecclesial church – not just academics, but our residence halls, the sportsmanship displayed, the entertainment we have – they should all speak to the mission. Catholic schools can go into an area that public schools cannot. Education involves mind, body, and spirit. Secular schools have to refrain from touching the spiritual part. Someone going to such a school will end up with career preparation, but no preparation for answering questions such as: “Who am I?”, “Why was I made?,” and “Where am I going?”

What, from your perspective, makes Franciscan distinctive?

I would say there are four distinctive elements about our university. One of those is the academic quality of our school. It attracts top students, and our SAT scores continue to rise. The quality of our professors and the personal interest they show in our students. Another is our unique culture. Pope John Paul II said that every Catholic college needs a Christian inspiration. Ours is St. Francis – a dynamic joy filled person. Everyone who visits campus notices how on fire our students are for God, and how willing they are to learn. We stand with the Church’s Magisterium and teaching. Finally, there is that sense of evangelism. Franciscan equips students to be salt and light. Our graduates are in all 50 states transforming the culture. They connect the intellectual formation they’ve received with a sense of applying that when they leave.

What changes have you seen during your time as president?

We’ve promoted John Paul II’s call for students. We’ve introduced new majors to transform the culture – an international business major, legal studies, a major in German, sacred music, a concentration in bioethics, and catechetics. The catechetical meltdown that took place for a generation among Catholics is being corrected by Franciscan University of Steubenville and our graduates. We have an endowed chair in bioethics. Where the Church needs to be is in those areas that the culture of death is attacking. In 2007, we entered the intercollegiate NCAA Division III and gained entry into the Allegheny Conference. The physical campus has nearly doubled in size.

What new projects are taking place?

In 2009, we completed our new friary. A unique element on our campus is that we have 20 friars who serve the spiritual needs of our students sacramentally, through counseling, in the classroom, in the residence halls, and by serving as moderators of our sports programs. That religious presence is very important for students, and it’s something we value greatly. That Franciscan presence has been a part of our school since its founding in 1946.

We are in the formative stage of our next capital campaign. The number one item on that needs list is the need for a new chapel. The student body under my tenure has grown an additional 600 students. The current chapel is no longer adequate. We’re hoping to address that need. I know that alumni will help. They can remember standing outside the chapel, unable to squeeze in, in January. Wherever I may be stationed, I would love to come back and be there at the dedication of the new chapel. It will speak to our Catholic and Franciscan heritage. The architecture will speak Assisi. It’s important that someone can set foot on campus and say, “This is a Catholic and Franciscan school.”

We also have been able to increase financial aid for our students through endowed scholarships. 39 new scholarships have been created in order to help them.

What do you see as Franciscan’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Our greatest strength is our commitment to the mission of our school – Catholic and Franciscan. That is the dominant charism of the University. Fidelity to that keeps us centered and provides a moral compass in a sea of moral relativity. That is the story of higher education in general.

We are mission driven, as is our household system, which replaced the fraternities and sororities of old. It’s a peer-to-peer way for students to encourage one another in a path of holiness. There’s been tremendous voluntary participation in household life. We’re up to 48 households now. Household life is a unique contribution that Franciscan came up with to have students support one another to grow in their faith. The bonds and friendships that students form in those households remain strong long after students graduate. They continue sharing in the challenges of living in a secular world. Learning takes place 24-7, and household life helps students to feel encouraged and supported by one another.

People who come on campus notice the physical growth of the campus, but the real story is the living stones – the students who want to grow in faith and wisdom. Cardinal John Henry Newman said a Catholic university is the only true university because it addresses the totality of the human person.

Our number one challenge is to increasingly be able to have the means to help students come to a small, private Catholic university and graduate receiving help. About 80% of our students receive some sort of financial aid, but it’s never enough. The need is acute.

What are you most proud of during your tenure?

I’m very proud that after a 20-year struggle our faculty has passed a new core curriculum that is more unified and integrated. It will provide a more common experience academically for our students. It was a battle because academically we’re not only a liberal arts school but also offer professional and pre-professional majors. I see a lot of blessings that will come from that.

Overall, when I became president, the general public probably wondered, “Does this mean that if Fr. Michael is not there, will the school mainstream itself in the bad sense of that word?” We’ve answered that. Our compass shows that we stand with Peter. If we stand with Peter, and not in front or behind him, we are on solid ground. That has been my main contribution. The school has remained faithful to the Magisterium. We have remained where the church would have us be, so that we can best equip young people to go into the world and transform it.

Do you have any idea what your new assignment will be?

I’m in a cloud of unknowing. I need to wait until May until I hear from my provincial. That’s where the vow of obedience kicks in. Will I be sent up the Amazon? I don’t think so. I’ve been in education all my life. That’s where my passion is.

Christendom College to Host Ex corde Ecclesiae Presidents Roundtable

On February 1-2, Christendom College will welcome Catholic college and university presidents to its Front Royal, Va., campus as it hosts the Ex corde Ecclesiae Presidents’ Roundtable. The Roundtable will examine the challenges and opportunities facing Catholic institutions of higher education, and will give the presidents an opportunity to discuss some very important issues.

“I believe that all the presidents involved will benefit by meeting to meditate on how we can cooperate with each other to be of service to Christ, His Church, and our nation through our educational apostolates,” Christendom College president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell said.

The Presidents Roundtable, which was initiated by O’Donnell, is a private association of presidents of Catholic universities, colleges, and institutes, who have embraced the vision of Catholic higher education as presented in the Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae of Blessed John Paul II and developed by Pope Benedict XVI, particularly in his historic address at the Catholic University of America on April 17, 2008.

During their meetings, the presidents will informally discuss areas of mutual interest and concern related to the strengthening of Catholic identity and will take advantage of the opportunity for spiritual rejuvenation in the company of fellow presidents. As a special guest, His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments — who has fully supported the initiative — will personally lead the Roundtable’s spiritual reflections.  The discussions will cover topics ranging from student life to presidential leadership within the university. All discussions will be in service to the individual mission and unique charism of each institution.

Francis Cardinal Arinze will lead the spiritual reflections during the Ex corde Ecclesiae Presidents Roundtable at Christendom College.

Francis Cardinal Arinze will lead the spiritual reflections during the Ex corde Ecclesiae Presidents Roundtable at Christendom College.

“As a liberal arts college, Christendom has given dynamic leadership to its students on how to discover the true, the good and the beautiful, and how to pursue these goods which are so deserving in themselves,” said Cardinal Arinze. “The students are taught not to be afraid of the truth, of reality. Christendom College is above all a Catholic educational institution. It importantly expresses its Catholic identity through an explicit profession of the Catholic Faith, and through studies given unity and a sense of direction by sound philosophy and authentic Catholic theology. It is joy for me to be associated with whatever has to do with the good of Christendom College.”

The participating presidents will also sign a pledge to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church concerning Catholic higher education. Cardinal Arinze will then personally present this to Pope Benedict XVI. Nearly 20 presidents are expected to attend the Roundtable discussions and/or sign the pledge.

For more information about the Ex Corde Ecclesiae Presidents Roundtable contact Olivia Ruhl, at or 540.636.2900.

Thomistic Scholar Rev. Thomas White Delivers St. Thomas Aquinas Lecture at Christendom College

Rev. Thomas White, O.P.

Rev. Thomas White, O.P.

Thomistic scholar and author, Rev. Thomas Joseph White, O.P., delivered the annual St. Thomas Aquinas Lecture on January 28 at Christendom College. The talk, entitled “How Does the Resurrection of Christ Illumine Human Reason? From Benedict XVI to St. Thomas Aquinas,” explored the doctrine of the resurrection of the body and its influence of philosophical thought.

Delving into the thought of modern philosophers on the relation of the body to the soul and Pope Benedict XVI’s response to them, Fr. White demonstrated that it was philosophically natural to hope in the resurrection from the dead.

“It is natural to want not to die,” Fr. White said. “And just because it is natural to want not to die — in part because we have an immaterial soul that we want to be united with our body— it can never be shown to be irrational to hope for the resurrection from the dead, even if reason cannot prove that we will rise from the dead.”

Fr. White explained further that the resurrection of Christ answers a very basic human desire and need to understand our final destiny as spiritual persons.

“For we aspire to immortality and knowledge of God and yet we are simultaneously mortal and bound to the labors of illness and death,” he said. “Hope in this situation is paradox. We must turn to the source of all that is — the Creator of the world…Who can create from nothing. And we must hope that He can raise the dead. Christ alive in the resurrection is the response of God to a deep innate longing in the heart of man.”

Concluding, Fr. White told the audience that if they wished to be ahead of the curve in human history, that they should be a Thomist, or follower of the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.

“His vision of the human person is uniquely compatible with a realistic belief in the resurrection of the dead,” he said, “and helps us to see—even in our own age—how faith in the Word made Flesh provides a vivid, rich illumination to our human reason.”

Fr. White is a native of southeastern Georgia. He converted to Catholicism in college, in part from the influence of reading the letters of Flannery O’Connor. Educated at Brown University (B.A.) and the University of Oxford (Ph.D.), he entered the Dominicans in 2003 and was ordained a priest in 2008. He teaches theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., and is the director of its Thomistic Institute. He is the author of Wisdom in the Face of Modernity: A Study in Thomistic Natural Theology (Sapientia Press, 2009), and is an Ordinary Member of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas.

The College hosts a distinguished speaker each year on or around the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28) to speak on a philosophical or theological topic. To listen to this lecture and the previous lectures in this series visit Christendom on iTunes U,

Vita Institute Extends Application Deadline

The Vita Institute – a scholarship funded opportunity for participants to learn about the fundamentals of human life issues at the highest academic level – has extended its application deadline until March 1, 2013.

Held on the University of Notre Dame campus, Vita participants receive instruction by and engagement with premier faculty, discussion with fellow Vita Institute participants, and introduction to community outreach programs. Instruction is provided on life issues from the perspectives of biology, philosophy, theology, law, psychology, and the social sciences. The annual Institute is being held June 9-21, 2013. The Institute is funded by the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life and Project Guadalupe.

Applicants are required to hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, and applications are welcome from those of any age or level of professional development who are passionately committed to the protection of human life, particularly in its earliest stages. A distinctly Catholic educational program, the Vita Institute welcomes participants of all faith traditions.

Applicants are competing for a limited number of seats. The inaugural 2011 Institute had 28 participants. The 2011 Vita Institute faculty included Charles Rice, David Solomon, Maureen Condic, William McGurn, Elizabeth Kirk, Charles Kenny, Fr. Kevin Flannery, and Fr. Michael Sherwin, among others. Jeanne Monahan, the new president of the March for Life, is a 2012 alumna of the Institute.

Those interested in submitting an application and the necessary letters of recommendation have until March 1, and can find the application here. As part of the Institute, participants are provided: a full tuition waiver, private lodging, specified meals, and curricular materials. Participants are responsible for travel to and from the Institute.