Wednesday, March 09, 2005

How to choose a truly Catholic College

Here's an article by Jim Burnham on how to choose a truly Catholic College. For those who are unaware, many colleges calling themselves Catholic are notorious for promoting very non-Catholic teachings and policies.

How to choose a truly Catholic College by Jim Burnam

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Since links tend to have a shelf-life, here's the article...


How to Choose a Truly Catholic College
by Jim Burnham

You’ve just finished twelve dedicated years of homeschooling your child. He’s chomping at the bit to leave home for college and you’re ready to let him go. But where?

Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions your family can make. Your child’s college experience will often determine his future occupation, marriage partner, and general world view.

Everyone has heard the story of Suzy Catholic who attends Secular University, finds the Catholic Newman Center boring, joins the interdenominational Bible study group like Campus Crusade, and in one year or two abandons her Catholic faith for some brand of "Bible only" Christianity. So sending your child to a Catholic college is the solution, right? Well, let me tell you another quick story.

At Progressive Catholic College, Johnny takes several required courses in religion. His teachers are respected Catholic theologians with many impressive degrees. From these trustworthy sources, Johnny learns that the Bible is merely a collection of myths; that the Gospel miracles are "second century additions;" and that Jesus’ Resurrection from the tomb was only spiritual. Johnny discovers that it is acceptable to disagree with the Church’s teachings on pre-marital sex, contraception, abortion, and sterilization. He is taught that only his conscience can judge the morality of his actions.

Freed from his medieval notions about sex, and enlightened about the true value of the Gospels, Johnny begins to relish all the enticements offered by the world, the flesh, and the devil. He takes up drinking and womanizing. Between his religion courses and his midnight trysts. Johnny hasn’t even noticed that his faith has been utterly destroyed.

Unfortunately, Suzy and Johnny are not alone. Thousands of Catholic students lose their faith every year in colleges and universities across this country. Even more distressing is the fact that this occurs at supposedly Catholic institutions. No longer can Catholic parents send their children to the nearest Catholic college, trusting that their faith will be preserved. In some cases, sending your children to a nominally Catholic college is the quickest way to destroy their faith.

How can parents provide a college education that will also preserve and nourish faith? Parents have a grave obligation to find a college that is authentically Catholic: an institution that teaches the Catholic faith without distortion, lives the faith without compromise, and nourishes the Catholic faith without apology. Unfortunately, this eliminates most so-called Catholic institutions.

If you look at a college directory, you will find dozens of schools bearing the name Catholic, but only a handful of these are authentically Catholic. At the end of this article I have listed four colleges known for their orthodoxy and academic excellence. This list is not comprehensive, but it should give committed Catholic parents a place to begin.

I suggest that every parent who has children who might want to attend college take the following practical steps:

(1) Make a commitment to protect your child’s faith, no matter what the cost or sacrifice. After all, what does it profit your child to gain the whole world, if he loses his soul in the process? (See Mt. 16:26.)

(2) Write to all the colleges below, requesting information about their programs.

(3) Visit as many as you can, perhaps incorporating them into family vacations.

(4) Interview several teachers and ask whether the school follows the Magisterium of the Church and provides solid spiritual formation. Obtain the names of several graduates. Call them to get a feel for what kind of person this program helps to shape. Just as you wouldn’t undergo major surgery without a second opinion, don’t accept whatever a glossy brochure tells you about a college. Get some second opinions; do some digging.

(5) Make a decision based on two criteria: (i) how this college will promote your child’s faith; and (ii) how it will foster his academic achievement. Do not let extraneous factors like tuition and distance determine your decision. Remember that any sacrifice and extra cost will pay rich dividends in the lives of your children.

Jim Burnham is a Catholic evangelist. He is the author of "Beginning Apologetics," a how-to manual for defending the Catholic faith.


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