Some of America’s most faithful Catholic colleges are enjoying record enrollment numbers this year, setting an important example for the Church and for the bishops who recently gathered in Rome for a synod on evangelizing young people.
Even while some voices at the Synod seemed to have lost confidence in the ability of the Church to reach young people with sound teaching and reason, these colleges successfully teach students the Truth of Christ, including the liturgy, traditions, and doctrines of the Church. All are recommended in The Newman Guide for their strong Catholic identity.
At the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., there are more students today than any time in the University’s 60-year history. The university enjoyed an overall enrollment increase of more than six percent in just one year, and there are no signs of slowing down in the near future.
“We are definitely booming — our Catholic identity is a big part of that vibrancy,” said Tom Ackerman, director of communications at the University of Mary.
Five other Newman Guide colleges also boasted record undergraduate enrollments for the 2018-19 academic year, including Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C.; Christendom College in Front Royal, Va.; Holy Apostles in Cromwell, Conn.; the University of Dallas in Irving, Tex.; and Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyo.
A strong Catholic identity at a Catholic college is good for the souls of students and for the Church. But it turns out that it may also be an increasingly strong marketing proposition, as families are beginning to realize the great value in a faithful Catholic college.
Arthur Ortiz, vice president for enrollment management at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Tex., says, “The University’s focus on the primacy of the human being and the importance of all aspects of the human person — mind, body and soul — is unique.”
He continues, “This commitment of the Basilian Fathers to the Catholic intellectual tradition and the formation of the whole human person sets us apart from most other institutions.”
This year, the University of St. Thomas welcomed its largest freshman class in its 71-year history. The University serves a high percentage of Hispanic students, defying concerns that Catholicism is losing ground with young Latinos
Ave Maria University in Florida and Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, also had record numbers of incoming freshmen. Chris Krivoniak, Franciscan University’s director of admissions, told us, “Students choose Franciscan University precisely for our Catholic identity, which ensures that our academic excellence is rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition.”
“Whether it be on the athletic field, household life in the residence halls, student government, clubs and organizations, our identity remains rooted in Christ and his Church,” Krivoniak said.
Other Newman Guide colleges on the rise, with more undergraduate students than last year, include Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan.; The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.; and Northeast Catholic College in Warner, N.H. John Paul the Great University in Escondido, Calif., saw an increase in incoming freshmen over last year.
More Catholic families are discovering the treasure that is an authentic Catholic education. As our shepherds look for ways to move forward following the Youth Synod, it’s an excellent time for them to take note of these faithful colleges where students are receiving a true Christian formation. They are excellent models for the Church’s efforts to evangelize young people in a secular age.