While blessing a new Catholic college building in Mesa, Ariz., Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix delivered a strong message about the role of a Catholic university and its importance to the mission of the Church.
“Jesus is not an afterthought of a Catholic university, not an elective of a Catholic university,” he said. “The Eternal Word of God is the light that enlightens everyone that enters into this world.”
Bishop Olmsted was in Mesa for a ceremonial ribbon cutting to celebrate the new local campus of Benedictine University of Illinois. He has encouraged Catholic educators to serve the fast-growing Phoenix region, and plans for a faithful Catholic university on the west side of Phoenix are also underway.
Bishop Olmsted made it clear that secular pursuits and religious pursuits should not be viewed as being at odds with one another. “From her founding of the first universities in Europe over a thousand years ago and down to the present day, the Catholic Church has been intimately involved in the pursuit of truth on the wings of both faith and reason,” he said.
“A Catholic university comes from the heart of the Church. It is not peripheral,” he said. “It is founded on the conviction that every human person is created in the image of God, is created by God out of love and in love. And since God created each of us in his own image, we not only defend the dignity of every human person, but we also lift up his eternal destiny.”
Bishop Olmsted linked faith and freedom. “The work of a Catholic university is closely bound up with freedom. God created us for freedom because he created us for love,” he said. “We cannot love if we are not free, and we cannot be free unless the truth sets us free.”