If you don’t want your children to lose their Catholic Faith in college, watch this

January 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Belmont Abbey college is rapidly becoming the college-of-choice for an increasing number of Catholic parents who are concerned (as they should be) about sending their children to get an education at a place that will actually endanger their Faith. To be sure, there are other excellent Catholic colleges here in the U.S., and I am always happy to encourage folks to check them out. But I also have a personal reason to tell you about Belmont Abbey College, and that is that my own lovely daughter Madeline is a student there, and my wife and I have been very pleased with both the quality of the liberal arts education she has been receiving there, as well as the school’s thoroughly Catholic environment.

Among BAC’s many excellent qualities, I am particularly impressed by the fact that their new Eucharistic adoration chapel is always teeming with college students (like Madeline) who come to make a visit to the Lord at all hours of the day and night.  That says a lot to me as a parent about the focus and quality of the Catholic identity at this school.

Please take a few minutes to watch this video introduction to all the great things happening at Belmont Abbey College. My wife and I would never send any of our children to a school where they would be in danger of losing their Faith because the school did not nurture and feed it. And I’m sure that all of you Catholic parents are just as serious about finding a Catholic college where your children’s Faith will be strengthened, not ripped away from them. If that describes you, I think you’re going to like what you see in this video.

If you’d like more information on how your son or daughter could attend Belmont Abbey, be sure to visit BAC’s website and even arrange a tour of the campus by contacting Ms. Joan Bradley at 704-461-6009 or joanbradley@bac.edu. Joan will be happy to get you more information.

N.B. I am affiliated with the college through my work directing the Envoy Institute of Belmont Abbey College — a Catholic apostolate is dedicated to helping Catholics of all ages, and especially younger Catholics in high school and college, to know how to explain their Faith more intelligently, defend it more charitably, and share it more effectively. If you’d like to become part of the work we’re doing with the Envoy Institute, such as becoming a member, please be sure to ask Joan about that too.

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13 Responses to “If you don’t want your children to lose their Catholic Faith in college, watch this”
  1. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Patrick– I think we were talking past each other… I assumed everyone already KNEW about Belmont Abbey. :)

    My concern was more the parents (I've known a few) who basically tell their kids that they can only apply to a handful of Colleges that are "Sufficiently catholi", without taking into account each individual child's academic interests, hopes, dreams, etc.

    If your child wants to be an engineer, they can go to Purdue and not lose their faith. If you force them into Belmont/Christendom/Stubenville instead, you may just make them resentful.

    And it may sound like a straw man, but I actually have met a lot of folks who see these schools as THE ONLY OPTION.

    So, I would probably encourage my liberal arts kids to look at Belmont– but not the one who dreams of being a robotics engineer.

    (BTW— Are there any good Catholic Engineering schools? I've heard Dayton is up there. And Purdue, while secular, famously has more Catholics on the football team than Notre Dame does! ;) )

  2. Julie says:

    Hey Patrick. Thank you for your post. I think that your recommendation is very helpful. I am not at all offended by you pointing out the reality that our children are facing a great risk of loosing their faith in faithless institutions, and that we, as Catholic parents, have good alternatives to CINCO colleges or secular institutions. In the end, I may not be able to afford to send all of my children to one of these schools, but it's good to know what my options are.

    Along that line, my friend is considering sending her daughter to Spring Hill in Alabama. It is a Jesuit college, but beyond that I don't know anything about it. Is there any kind of publication that rates Catholic colleges on there "catholicity", so to speak? Any direction in this area would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for your great work!

  3. David Marciniak says:

    Thanks for your reply, Patrick. I understand your intention in your post, and appreciate your understanding of my situation. It would be marvelous if such institutions were more affordable…but so many of the grads go on to ministry and Church work; unfortunately such alum do not a big endowment make!LOL! We do the best we can, and God makes good from it because of our love. Thanks again, and God bless you and your work!

  4. Patrick Madrid says:

    Well, Deirdre, perhaps we're talking past each other on this issue. Not sure, but it kind of looks that way.

    I don't for a moment disagree with you that colleges that are "Catholic in Name Only" (CINO) are more often than not the place where a young Catholic's Faith will be eroded and even, sadly, taken from him. No argument there. You may be interested in a blog post I made a few weeks ago on this very issue: http://patrickmadrid.blogspot.com/2010/12/catholic-college-girls-lament.html It essentially concurs with the issues you raised here.

    But getting back to the focus of this post about Belmont Abbey College, my sole aim was to make people aware of yet another good Catholic school that many have not been aware of. My earlier point was that it's not playing on anyone's fears, as you characterized it, to bring this to the attention of parents who didn't know about it, especially since — as you yourself have already stated — there are real risks involved in sending Catholic kids to CINO schools. At least, that's how I see it.

  5. doanli aka "orange blossom" says:

    I wish the Bishops in this country would rally behind AUTHENTIC Catholic colleges and provide scholarships for families who cannot afford to pay the tuition.

    I have a soon to be 13 year old and I dread it when and if he goes off to college. I'd much prefer him to go to one of the great schools here where I live, but I may come across some opposition from my husband. (As far as his being allowed to live at home—hubby thinks he should be able to live independently away from us when he starts college— the way HE was raised, but not the way I was.)

    Pray for our family, please.

  6. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Hmmm… I realize that anecdote is not the sigular of data! ;)

    I think the biggest danger to the faith is actually a school labeled 'Catholic' that actively undermines Catholic beliefs.

    At a totally secular school, students can find spiritual sustanence in the local church and are very clear that the opinions of their professors are NOT the voice of the Church.

    At a Catholic school committed to upholding Church teachings, students can recieve further education in the faith.

    At a 'Catholic' school that routinely supports anti-Catholic teachings, a student has to be VERY knowledgable and strong in his faith, or he may wander down the garden path.

    But, as examples of Secular schools that do well by Catholics, we have vocations powerhouses like Wisconsin and Texas A&M. (Both have very good Catholic student centers.)

    And, the new (very young!) abbot of Marmion Abbey in IL is a U of C alum! :)

  7. Patrick Madrid says:

    I'm okay with your anecdotal evidence and all, but please, don't be so quick to call this playing on parent's fears. It's really not. After all, every study on this subject that I have seen shows that the exception to the rule is the Catholic child who remains strong in his or her Faith during and after college. The great majority of times, sadly, their Catholic identity suffers substantial erosion there and many drift away from their Faith altogether. Not all do, of course, but many do. Which is why it's not playing on fear to point out that, if it's possible to send your child to a Catholic college where he stands a much better chance of coming out the other end strong in his Faith, then one should try to do so.

    Hello, David. I regret that my post made you feel saddened. That wasn't my intention at all. In fact, I can relate to your own circumstances. My wife and I have 11 children, she is a stay-at-home mom (i.e., we're a single-income family and have been for the 30 years of our marriage) and we simply could not afford to send them to college. The only reason we are able to do so is because of my affiliation with BAC. But even so, there are many Catholic families,. just like yours and mine, who are able to swing it with a combination of sacrifice, savings, and loans. I know this from experience, since we are doing all of the above to make it work for our kids.

    To be candid, when a good Catholic dad like your suggests that I am somehow inferring that you're not "doing your duty" just because you can't send a child to a college like BAC is depressing to me. Anyway, I hope you can understand where I'm coming from on this. It was never my intention (far from it!) to ruffle anyone's feathers.

  8. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Err…. Newman center! Sorry… grew up at St. John Neumann parish, and so always default to the Bohemian!

  9. Deirdre Mundy says:

    I went to that Den of iniquity known as "The University of Chicago" and actually GREW in my faith while I was there.

    The Neumann center was excellent, and I made good friends who were interested in their faith.

    The Western Civ sequence (taught by the late, but very great Karl Weintraub) did more for my knowledge of the Church than all my years of catechism classes — we met Augustine, Benedict, Bonaventure, Aquinas, More, etc. etc.

    I volunteered with Catholic Organizations and made regular Friday evening pilgrimages to St. Peter's in the loop, so that my friends and I could hit confession before we went out for dinner and a movie.

    I met a really great man, who happens to be my husband. :)

    Your child can lose their faith at a Catholic school, especially if they decide to sleep in and miss mass, or start sleeping with a significant other (and decide to 'become agnostic' rather than to admit sin.)

    Your children can grow in their faith at a secular school, if they are willing to find a parish community (Neumann Center or Local Parish) and become adult members.

    There's no magic bullet. Actually, I think it's a bit unhelpful to play on parents fears— the key is to do the best job you can with them BEFORE they leave home, so they'll have the Faith and Maturity to follow Christ wherever they go to school!

  10. David Marciniak says:

    Thank you – your words are very encouraging! Two of my daughters are in college, one a state school, one a Jesuit college(scholarship)- both have been remarkably faithful. Both lead pro-life clubs and service clubs, lead active faith lives, and are known for being "the good girls"… I believe preparation and good, solid parenting that doesn't end when they leave for school is the answer.

    I am so proud of them both, and know they have to struggle against sometimes militant anti-Christian rhetoric at both schools (sadly) among students and professors, but they do so with strength. I pray all my children will fare as well, and plan to do my part to insure it.

    Thank you again for your encouraging and gentle response. I hope I didn't sound too irritated in my original post, but I have empathy born of experience for parents who feel the guilt of not being able to afford a solid Catholic college because of financial inability. God bless you!

  11. priest's wife says:

    David again- I have 'friends' that limit their family size (Catholics to 3 or so, non-Catholics to 1 or 2)because they want to be able to send them to college. Although we have 'only' 4 (medical reasons, etc, etc)- we are preparing them that we cannot give them tons of money. You did right by having a super big family. The money for college will take care of itself because your kids will have to take a lot of the responsibility- if you live in a city with a state college, have them live at home, teach CCD and go to school.

  12. priest's wife says:

    David- my siblings went to either Franciscan or Ave Maria (school of law)- they took out big loans. I didn't want to do that. Here is what I did to stay Catholic :)

    1. live at home
    2. cantor the 7:30 Mass and then join my family at the 9:00 mass
    3. go to a (good) Newman center
    4. be involved with pro-life causes
    5. teach ESL for Franciscan for 4 years after I graduated from my pagan school (in Austria!!!!!)

    I think the biggest help was to live at home (with good parents, of course). Although I didn't really have any rules as a college student (because I was a good kid and working a lot, too)- they always knew where I was- I didn't want them to worry

  13. David Marciniak says:

    This looks wonderful…unfortunately, for so many Catholic parents, such institutions are out of reach financially. Such institutions tend to also have a rather small endowment, comparatively, with lesser opportunity for financial aid.

    "My wife and I would never send any of our children to a school where they would be in danger of losing their Faith because the school did not nurture and feed it. And I'm sure that all of you Catholic parents are just as serious about finding a Catholic college where your children's Faith will be strengthened, not ripped away from them."

    I understand your concern, but what of the countless Catholic parents struggling to make ends meet who do not have the option? Does "never" mean don't send them anywhere? Are only the affluent to be nurtured in the faith in institutions that are beyond reach?

    I have a dear friend who teaches at Franciscan University. His children are happy to attend…tuition-free. The rest of us must do our best to encourage faith in our children. As a father of nine, I could not hope to send them all to Belmont Abbey College; I am saddened that your statements might infer that I am not living my duty as a Catholic parent because of that reality.

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