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The Roman Catholic Tradition

The Roman Catholic Church has historically engaged intimately with affiliated higher education institutions. Similar to evangelical Christian higher education, Catholic higher education has its own unique identity and mission, while still providing space for each individual institution to have its own culture. Although each university enacts its mission uniquely and cultivates its own campus culture, Morey and Pident (2006) argue that across Catholic institutions there arc four unifying foundational goals, or “ways of being”:

  • • Catholic Immersion: attracting a large majority of Catholic individuals
  • • Catholic Persuasion: fostering appreciation and increasing knowledge of Catholicism among all
  • • Catholic Diaspora: accepting of religion in general, regardless of beliefs and practice
  • • Catholic Cohort: influencing the formation of Catholics (pp. 62-68).

Regardless of the model chosen, Catholic institutions are dedicated to a set of values—such as a caring environment, respect for all persons, human connection, and a responsibility for the care and keeping of the community (Murphy, 1991). These values serve to connect programming and curriculum to the Catholic faith and the Catholic intellectual tradition on Catholic university and college campuses. Weaver (2012) explains that the Catholic intellectual tradition can influence, and ultimately preserve, the faith identity and culture of a Catholic institution. The Catholic intellectual tradition is a multi-faceted concept inclusive of the actions and initiatives utilized to interpret and apply the Catholic faith, a dialogue related to the challenges of living in the historical Catholic tradition in the modern day world, and the active construction of community centered around followers of Catholicism (Weaver, 2012). It is these values, as well as the faithfulness to the Catholic intellectual tradition, that make the experience on a Catholic campus distinguishable from other institutions.

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