A University in Wisconsin With a Vital Catholic Ministry (not Marquette)
The St. Paul’s center in Madison has daily Masses, some of them in Latin, daily Rosary, long lines for confessions, uses Gregorian chant in some of the liturgies, etc. The homilies are frank and address topics like moral relativism, salvation, etc.We wondered whether this was in fact all true, and e-mailed Scott Hacki of St. Paul’s and asked him to comment. His response:
Most kids coming to college never got any of this in their Catholic childhoods at home, they are having an encounter with stuff they had only heard about (and were often told was bad, old-fashioned, backward, rigid, judgmental etc.) Sure this may turn some people off, but it attracts others, at St. Paul’s they are experiencing growth.
Kids don’t want to be patronized, they want to learn something.
The campus ministry at St. Paul’s is indeed thriving. I wouldn’t necessarily say there are long lines for confession. We have two daily Masses and four Sunday Masses with confession heard thirty minutes before Mass every day. There is a line everyday but it depends on what you call long. Usually it’s about 5-10 people waiting in line before each Mass. On Ash Wed and Good Friday we have priests in the confessional the entire day and students coming in and out the entire day as well.So why is it that public universities can have a more vital and active Catholic campus ministry than the nominally Catholic Marquette?
On a better note we also have about 300 students involved weekly in our bible studies all over campus and a Thursday night weekly program that usually brings in another 200 or so. St. Paul’s is truly a very exciting Catholic place that has experienced a tremendous amount of growth. Ten years ago we had one Bible study with ten students, now we have 72 weekly studies with 300+ involved. I would say the rest of this persons comments are accurate.
We would suggest it’s the “established religion syndrome.” The bland assumption is that since Marquette is “Catholic” evangelism is really out of place. Somehow not needed. And besides, who would want students to be the sort of traditional Catholics who might want to celebrate a Latin Mass, or might actually believe church teaching on sexuality?
But it follows from this that a job at Marquette is a rather bland sinecure. It is not the sort of place where people with any missionary zeal would particularly want to be.
But places like Marquette are attractive to people whose agenda is more political than spiritual. Thus Marquette’s campus ministry seems more interested in opposing Church teaching on homosexuality and demonstrating at the School of the Americas than in gaining converts. Or deepening the faith of merely nominal Catholic students (unless “deepening” is interpreted in terms of leftist political activism).
But ironically, the percentage of entering Marquette Freshmen who call themselves “Catholic” has declined to the point that (among the class entering in the fall of 2010) only 44% will claim to be Catholic.
Ironically, for parents who want a Catholic college experience for their children, Marquette and similar institutions may be about the worst places to send them, inferior not only to newer, smaller schools that take their Catholicism seriously, but to public universities.