Saturday, December 5, 2015

Newman Options

One of the reasons Rod Dreher often cites for the necessity of a Benedict Option is the way that secular universities have become in some ways actively anti-Christian. And, indeed, there's much to be said for encouraging one's Catholic children to attend the sort of supportive, faith-nurturing universities highlighted in the Cardinal Newman Society's recommended colleges. But not all the college-bound will attend rigorously orthodox, welcoming and warm Catholic colleges. Many will--and should, for whatever reason--attend secular universities, whether public or private.

In contexts like that the campus Catholic chapel, often called a Newman Center, can be an oasis. Indeed, the Newman Center at UMass Amherst (where I was then taking posbacs for my erstwhile career as a math teacher) played an irreplaceable role in my own journey home to Rome.  So I was delighted to read that some Newman Centers are taking things to a whole new level, essentially creating a BenOp not of separate colleges, but of Christ-saturated life within secular universities, through the creation of "Newman Halls," that is, Catholic-focused dorms centered on Newman Center chapels.

This is a very, very promising development. I learned of it through a great story in the National Catholic Register, and I hope you'll take the time to tolle, lege, especially if you're an academic in a position to help build something like this at your own school. 

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