University of Mary President Appointed Monsignor

Monsignor Shea

President Monsignor James Shea

According to the Bismarck Tribune, University of Mary President James Shea, 37, was one of six western North Dakota priests appointed as monsignor in early December. Bismarck Bishop David Kagan made the announcement online through the diocesan web site.

Shea was named the sixth president of the University of Mary in 2008. He previously served as pastor at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Killdeer and St. Paul’s Church in Halliday, and as school chaplain at Trinity High School in Dickinson. He also worked at St. Mary’s High School. A native of Hazelton, he graduated from Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock High School in 1993, and was ordained a priest in July 2002.

According to the news release, this was the first time a monsignor had been named in the Diocese of Bismarck since December 1991. There are now seven monsignors in the diocese. Monsignor is a title of honor granted by the pope, usually at the request of the local bishop.

The title of monsignor honors a priest’s service to the Catholic Church and bears no extra duties or responsibilities except for the privilege of wearing different vestments during liturgical celebrations.

Former Bishop to University of Notre Dame Passes Away

Bishop John M. D’Arcy, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, died Sunday after a battle with lung and brain cancer. He was 80.

D’Arcy passed away on the 56th anniversary of his first Mass as an ordained priest, according to a statement from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

“I am filled with deep sadness at the death of a dear friend and brother bishop,” said current Bishop Kevin Rhoades. “We mourn the death of a good shepherd after the heart of Christ, a bishop who loved the Lord and his people with all his heart.”

Bishop D’Arcy was ordained a priest on Feb. 2, 1957, and installed bishop of the diocese on May 1, 1985.

While fond of Notre Dame, Bishop D’Arcy was also publicly at odds with certain decisions made by the University of Notre Dame, especially concerning the University’s annual performance of The Vagina Monologues.

In 2004, Bishop D’Arcy issued a strong statement opposing the University’s decision to present the Monologues. At that time, Bishop D’Arcy wrote:

Indeed, it can truly be said that woman, like man, can only find herself by giving herself to others. This has always been a welcome theme at Notre Dame. The theme, however, finds no place in the text in question. In that text, the physical is separated from the spiritual. The body is separated from love. The woman is separated from the man and is even placed in opposition to him. There is nothing of beauty here, nothing of love. There is much here which Notre Dame has stood against and has opposed in recent times, both in administrative decisions and in pastoral work. It is especially painful that this play is being performed at Notre Dame, the school of Our Lady, as many of her graduates call her.

The Vagina Monologues is offensive to women; it is antithetical to Catholic teaching on the beautiful gift of human sexuality and also to the teachings of the Church on the human body relative to its purpose and to its status as a temple of the Holy Spirit. The human body and the human person, in the tradition of the Church, must never be seen as an object.

This play violates the truth about women; the truth about sexuality; the truth about male and female, and the truth about the human body.

It is in opposition to the highest understanding of academic freedom. A Catholic university seeks truth. It is never afraid of truth, but it seeks it with respect for both reason and faith. Each gives light and guidance to the other. How has the light coming from faith, or indeed from right reason, been brought to bear on this decision?

Despite Bishop D’Arcy’s, alumni, student and parent protestations, the University continued to present the play. In 2008, Bishop D’Arcy responded with a lengthy public statement to President Father John Jenkins’ decision to continue to allow the performance on campus.

“I must publicly and respectfully disagree with Father Jenkins’ decision. I am convinced that permitting performances of “The Vagina Monologues” is not consistent with the identity of a Catholic university and not comparable to the long accepted academic tradition through which a wide variety of authors are read and discussed in classes at Notre Dame and in all institutions of higher learning.”

In 2009, Bishop D’Arcy boycotted the University’s commencement ceremony where President Barack Obama was to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree, due to the President’s pro-abortion policies. In a statement released by the Diocese at the time, D’Arcy said he would not attend the event because “a bishop must teach the Catholic faith ‘in season and out of season,’ and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.”

Bishop D’Arcy stepped down from his office later that same year. Funeral services for Bishop D’Arcy have not yet been set, according to the diocese.

Religious Liberty Groups Disappointed with HHS Mandate Rule

The Obama Administration today floated proposed rules to attempt to alleviate religious concerns about the Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act.

The administration tried to put a positive spin on the accommodation. The 80-page proposal attempts to simplify and expand the existing definition of a “religious employer” by creating accommodations for non-profit organizations who self-certify as religious organizations that have an objection to providing contraceptive coverage.

According to the proposal, employees of, or students at exempted organizations could still receive contraceptive services, such as sterilization, contraception, and drugs that cause abortion, through a separate, individual insurance provider. As described by Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, deputy director of policy and regulation with the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, costs would be paid by the issuer.

“No federal funds or employer dollars will be used to fund contraceptive coverage,” said Brooks-LaSure. “The services are paid for through a reduction in user fees from the federally-funded exchange.”

“Under the proposed rule, no non-profit organization will be force to pay for, or provide contraceptive services,” said Brooks-LaSure. “Universities, hospitals, and charities won’t have to arrange, contract, provide, or refer for contraceptives.”

Religious liberty, legal, and advocacy groups, however, were universally disappointed with the proposal.

“Religious institutions who are not primarily in the business of spreading the faith – likely hospitals, schools, etc. – can have the exemption after a complicated ‘self-certification’ procedure, but their employees and students will get free contraception without their employers’ input – under separate policies issued directly from the insurance company,” said Helen Alvare in a statement made through the organization Women Speak for Themselves.

“We are extremely dissatisfied with this inadequate proposal,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of Catholic dioceses, universities, and family-owned businesses to protect their religious liberty.

“The proposal has nothing to do with the millions of family businesses or business owners who are having their rights violated,” said Duncan. “It does nothing to change the scope of, or broaden, the religious employer exemption, and it offers no concrete guidelines for how self-funded entities are to avoid the requirements of the mandate that violate their consciences. Even those who qualify for the accommodation will have concerns about remaining conduits for drugs and devices that raise the same kind of conscience-problems that have been there all along.”

“The document proposes three different proposals,” said Duncan. “The document provides no concrete guidance for self-insured entities, and the administration has made it clear that for-profit organizations, such as Hobby Lobby, have no religious claims to make with respect to the mandate.”

“In this proposed rule, it appears that Catholic schools and colleges may not be required to provide the mandatory insurance directly, but insurance companies will nevertheless provide the immoral coverage to employees and students,” said The Cardinal Newman Society in a press statement released today.  “This is an accounting gimmick that serves the Obama administration’s radical goal of forcing such coverage on all Americans, except those who are employed by houses of worship.  The Administration continues to violate Americans’ freedom with an absurdly narrow view of constitutionally protected religious activity.

“Religious freedom will not be protected until every organization, business and individual is exempted from purchasing or otherwise financially supporting insurance for sterilization, contraception or abortion.”

Statement of The Cardinal Newman Society on Proposed HHS Rule

The Cardinal Newman Society today released the following statement:

The Obama administration today proposed a rule responding to serious concerns that its policy mandating insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception (including drugs that cause abortion) violates religious freedom.  While the outcry of religious leaders, organizations, employers and faithful Americans has been clear and unambiguous, the Obama administration has barely made a move toward a more just policy.  The mandate is still unacceptable, and the newly proposed “accommodation” is inadequate.

Catholics are left no choice but to stand firmly opposed to the mandate.  We are grateful especially to the Catholic bishops, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty for their leadership and for continuing the fight to defend the religious freedom of Catholics and all Americans.  We pray for them and stand with them in this fight.

It is important to note that the proposed rule is just that: a proposal.  The final rule could be dramatically different, and there will be powerful opposition from many parties.

In this proposed rule, it appears that Catholic schools and colleges may not be required to provide the mandatory insurance directly, but insurance companies will nevertheless provide the immoral coverage to employees and students.  This is an accounting gimmick that serves the Obama administration’s radical goal of forcing such coverage on all Americans, except those who are employed by houses of worship.  The Administration continues to violate Americans’ freedom with an absurdly narrow view of constitutionally protected religious activity.

Religious freedom will not be protected until every organization, business and individual is exempted from purchasing or otherwise financially supporting insurance for sterilization, contraception or abortion.

UST to Co-host Pontifical St. Thomas Aquinas Conference

Photo: St. Thomas AquinasThe University of St. Thomas Center for Thomistic Studies and the John Paul II Forum plan to co-host the first U.S. Conference of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, on Oct. 18-19, 2013 in Houston, Texas.

The theme of the conference, “Thomas Aquinas: Teacher of Humanity,” will explore the teachings of St. Thomas on what it means to be human and what he contributes to contemporary understandings of that concept.

Cardinals, bishops and scholars associated with the Pontifical Academy around the world have been invited to attend.  Among the confirmed guests are the Most Rev. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, who will be opening the conference, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the Chancellor of the Papal Academies and the Secretary of the Pontifical Academy, and Sister Prudence Allen, author of “The Concept of Woman.”

Dr. Mary Catherine Sommers, director of the Center for Thomistic Studies and an organizer of the event, said the conference will be a forum for exchanging ideas and research and tackling the problems associated with defining “humanity” in a world with many cultures, traditions and technologies.

Dr. John Hittinger, UST professor of philosophy and founder of the John Paul II Forum, said the conference will be an opportunity for the local Catholic community to hear from international scholars and Vatican officials.

“To the community-at-large, it’s the play of ideas involving these questions of human nature and humanism that is interesting,” Hittinger said. “The thought of Aquinas has things to teach us in the 21st century.”

Pope Leo XIII founded the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas in 1879 to encourage the study of St. Thomas’ philosophy in Catholic universities and seminaries. One of the Pontifical Academy’s new initiatives, the Thomistic Legacy of Blessed John Paul II, unites the mission of the Center for Thomistic Studies with that of the John Paul II Forum.

UST’s Center for Thomistic Studies is the only center in the nation that grants a doctorate in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. The John Paul II Forum was created to promote the understanding of the thought of Pope John Paul II.

A registration fee will be required, but UST students will receive a special discount. Cardinal DiNardo will celebrate a Mass for participants at 5 p.m. on Oct. 19 in the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 1111 St. Joseph Parkway, followed by a banquet.

Those interested may find out about the call for papers on the CTS website or they can contact the Center at

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.”