For almost one million college students in the United States, the Catholic university is Church. This study describes the experience of students at three Catholic universities. A work of Practical Theology, these reflections offer an opportunity for examination of the ecclesiology of the university not only in the liturgical sense but in the relational sense as a community of the faithful. It contains a full explication of Catholic and non-Catholic students’ description of their experience of Catholic identity at three metropolitan Catholic universities, how that experience was evoked in the process of interpretive theological reflection, and the themes that have emerged from those reflections. The themes most emphatically expressed on all three campuses were community, relationship, and service. The students describe their experiences in the chapel, the classroom, the dormitory, and the offices of administration and financial aid.
Students in this reflection expressed an expectation that their personal interactions with faculty, staff, and administration, as well as their prayer and worship practices, would be different at a Catholic university. When these interactions did not meet their expectations, it was the university as Catholic that had failed. The failure was, in student Rachel’s words because “you can’t just call yourself Catholic and not do anything about it.” For these students, everyone on the university campus is seen as a part of the university’s Catholic identity because for them the university is Church, both in the liturgical and ecclesial sense. The insights gained have value for Catholic institutions committed to an ongoing conversation on what it means to be Catholic.
|School:||St. Thomas University|
|School Location:||United States -- Florida|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Theology, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Catholic identity, Catholic university, Ecclesiology|
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