Magdalen: A Catholic College Where the Students Sing (in Latin)
with two or three students just like myself, but at MC I have 80 friends." That is the kind of community we want to nurture. Couples actually thrive at Magdalen because the friendships are so strong.
Francis Cardinal Arinze is speaking on campus in April to mark your 35th anniversary. How did you get the cardinal involved with Magdalen?
I wrote inviting him to be the commencement speaker, but his calendar was full. Then he offered to come in April. The cardinal knew all about Magdalen College and wrote us a beautiful, very complimentary letter. Cardinal Arinze, evidently, had heard about our commitment to liturgy.
Each day on campus begins with Mass at 7:30 a.m. -- it is not mandatory, but there is 100 percent participation among the students. Confessions are heard every day before Mass, and there is singing at every liturgy. The altar servers have a great training program, and when Sean Cardinal O'Malley [of Boston] was here, he said they should come train his seminarians on how to serve Mass. The liturgical life coordinator, chaplain, altar servers, and choir directors put everything together in a beautiful, sacred way. Some Masses are the Novus Ordo Latin, and some are a combination of Latin and English.
By the way, we have two Protestant students at Magdalen who were so motivated by the seminars they come to Mass every day.
What is your vocation record?
Thus far we have had 45 vocations to the priesthood and the religious life -- a little more than one per year. It is very natural for Magdalen students to consider a vocation, since the spiritual life is so front and center. Diocesan vocations directors come to the campus all the time, and religious orders come as well. Four Magdalen College graduates are in community with the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Different religious orders come to campus each year to give the annual student weekend retreat. This way, students get the experience of different charisms.
How have your alumni done in the world of work?
Our alumni are found in all the professions, from education, business, medicine, technology, to the military. We help our seniors with writing their resumes and preparing for job interviews. An executive from Sun Microsystems was recently here interviewing students and was very impressed with the answers given by our students. He said Magdalen students could speak, write, and present themselves better than most students he had met. Magdalen students get intensive training in writing, including short stories, an autobiography, and a senior thesis presented to the whole school. Our students are not just learning a trade, they are learning the tools to sell a product, motivate others, provide leadership, communicate clearly, and think critically. Businesses need those skills but can't teach them.
Tell me about the month-long program in Italy.
Through a friend of the college, the prior at the Benedictine monastery in Norcia, we have created a program so students can spend time in Rome, Assisi, and Florence and live in a medieval walled city. In Norcia they walk in the footsteps of St. Benedict, read his Rule, and chant at Mass with the monks every morning. This program used to be done with the juniors, but now we schedule it for the month after the end of the sophomore year. The cost is rolled into the tuition, and students have chipped in by opening up a Norcia café on campus and donating all the profits to defray the costs of the program.
Where do your students come from?
We have as many students from California as New England. Many of our students -- 6o percent -- matriculate after having participated in our two-week summer camps for high school students. These camps are limited to 30-40 students, so we can get them all on one bus. Students are treated to academic classes, liturgy, recreation, and, of course, singing. By the end of the two weeks, the students are able to sing a full chant Mass in Latin. We also have two visitor weekends in the fall and the spring -- high school students can come and live with the college students and join in all our campus activities. In the fall, they can enjoy the New England fall foliage and our local fall foliage festival, and in the spring, they ski at a local ski resort and enjoy our drama weekend presentation.
What do you say to parents who ask you about Magdalen College?
Magdalen is a place where young people come to know and understand themselves better in relationship with others and with God and His beautiful creation. We provide the kind of academic environment described by Pope Benedict XVI in his address to Catholic college and university presidents last April: The Holy Father said that, first and foremost, every Catholic educational institution should be a place where its students encounter Jesus Christ and His love. That is very real at Magdalen College and is why our students are truly and joyfully Catholic.
Deal W. Hudson is the director of InsideCatholic.com. For more information about Magdalen College, please contact Rebecca Vinson at firstname.lastname@example.org
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