Questioning Saint Mary's Catholic identity
In the past year, Saint Mary's has launched a new program, as described in The Observer on Sept. 20, that encourages students, faculty and staff to focus on the identity of Saint Mary's as a Catholic institution. At first, this news was pleasant to my ears. Knowing well from experience how desperately faltering St Mary's is in upholding Catholic doctrine and in encouraging students in the true beliefs of the Catholic faith, I was initially hopeful that this program would bring much needed attention to the areas in which the College is misleading many students.
I sadly learned that this was not the case, and that under the guise of a program that claimed to "explore and question our Catholic identity," these pressing issues were not so much avoided as they were masked. I have found this not only to be true within the seminars but also in campus ministry, campus life and even in our classes. I have witnessed more than one individual attempting to teach their subjective feminisms, which fall outside of the realm of Catholic teaching, as part of the Catholic faith. I have seen the truth of the Catholic Church warped and mutilated in so many ways that my heart aches to try and describe them.
As a young woman continually growing in my spiritual walk, I see firsthand the absolute and certain danger that is ahead if nothing is changed. We must have the courage to learn the real reasons why the doctrine exists and attempt to relate it to our lives and thoughts. Many Catholic students come to Saint Mary's, Notre Dame and other Catholic colleges full of questions about their faith and with little understanding of the reasons behind Catholic teaching. Professors and college administrators have a unique and unparalleled opportunity to answer questions, evangelize and support students in their Catholic-Christian walks.
It is certain that these well-educated adults realize the ignorance of the student body in regards to Catholicism, and the task to inform students lies in their hands. I truly believe that there are many professors who don't know themselves what Catholic teaching is in many areas and unknowingly mislead students. There are many things that cause bright, talented and young students to believe falsehoods that claim the title "Catholic." The best way to combat these problems is to realize that not all literature, media or viewpoints expressed that claim to be Catholic exemplify or support Catholic teaching. By using this propaganda as course material and ministry support, falsehoods have been leaking out from our halls and into the world.
What a wonderful opportunity is being wasted. How many students could have benefited from unabashed sharing of the true Catholic faith? In many ways, we are being robbed of the invaluable and central sources of understanding our faith as Catholics. Why aren't the Catechism and the works of the Holy Father taught in classes — especially those dealing directly with the Catholic faith? How many more young Catholics would be on fire with the truth and use it to change the world if they could hear it directly stated and not avoided? I strongly feel that these are the questions that need to be addressed in the symposiums discussing Catholic identity.
I realize that not all who work for the College are a part of this movement. I'm sure there are those who are and don't know it. I'm also certain there are those who disagree with what is happening and who quietly pursue change and holiness through prayer — a wonderful tactic. I give undue thanks and respect to those who have been faithfully holding to the sacred teaching and texts and who do their best to take advantage of the vocation in which God has placed them. Attending a Catholic college is an outstanding opportunity to not only grow in knowledge but in faith. I feel there is a great call to work together for a change, renewal and understanding of what it truly means to have a Catholic identity.
All Viewpoint Stories for Monday, September 23, 2002