Saint Mary's News Editor
Many Catholics follow the doctrine and beliefs of the Church but often do not reflect or question why the doctrine is taught and followed, Monika Hellwig told the Saint Mary's community Thursday.
College students, faculty and administration gathered on campus for the "Catholic Identity Symposium," led by Hellwig, executive director for the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
The purpose of the discussion was to delve into those issues affecting Catholic colleges and how they particularly affect the identity of Saint Mary's.
"This is a very significant topic for Saint Mary's College, our Catholic identity and how it affects our campus," College President Marilou Eldred said.
Prior to Hellwig's lecture, attendees viewed a video presentation of students and faculty sharing their thoughts on Catholicism at the College.
"What is so interesting about the comments is that they were all grateful for what they have found at Saint Mary's, but not analytical or inquisitive of what they have found," said Hellwig.
While Hellwig generalizes Catholics into two categories, she explained that no one fits perfectly into either group.
"There is polarity in the Church, not between bad and good guys, but between Catholics in the Church," said Hellwig. "There are people who greatly fear we will lose the core teachings, and still believe in the Church before the second Vatican council. Then there are people who have gone deeper into Scripture and read the historical context."
These two categories of people affect Catholic identity because there are varying opinions on the correct way to operate as a Catholic college.
"I'm not coming here with a magic potion, because it is something we have to struggle through," said Hellwig. "We have to take responsibility but there is not an easy answer."
Hellwig divided the aspects that affect Catholic identity on campus into two categories, one being the quality of life on campus, into which she included the interrogation between study, socialization and prayer.
"What distinguishes Catholic institutions from secular colleges is the interrogation of prayer," she said. "There is a concern for everyone on campus, from the president to the janitor, because we are all formed in the image of God."
The second category, the educational and intellectual quality of the campus, relates to the curriculum construction, educational goals, understanding of community dimensions and the importance of stimulating the imagination.
"A critical aspect of Catholic identity of colleges is that we not think of the future as what position we will have or how much money we will make, but to see the future not in terms of a career but as a vocation," said Hellwig.
All News Stories for Friday, September 20, 2002