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Franciscan University of Steubenville, the Federal Government and the Gates of Hell
By Deacon Keith Fournier
October 9th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Ken Blackwell said the "Obama administration is also the most anti-Catholic administration in American history." He is correct. Pray for Franciscan University of Steubenville and all other genuinely Catholic Universities. The promise of Jesus still stands. The Catholic College, as a part of the Church which Jesus founded upon Peter the Rock, still stands under the protection of heaven. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. (Matt. 16:17,18)
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (Catholic Online) - I am an alumni of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Way back then it was called the College of Steubenville. Many of my readers know I am a "revert" to the Catholic Church. I came back to the faith of my childhood after turbulent years searching for truth and meaning. I was a teenage "hippie", caught up in the sixties and early seventies.
My journey culminated in a harrowing hitchhiking journey across the country to California searching for truth and meaning. There, on a beach, I gave my life "back to the Lord". I later came to understand He had never left me. After that experience I ended up in a Protestant Bible College where I hoped to study "the word". Naturally inquisitive, I could not shut down my brain. I questioned myself right into studying the writings of the early Church Fathers. That led me back into the Catholic Church.
Desiring to give my whole life to the Lord in the wonderful Church I had rediscovered, I soon entered a Benedictine monastery. During all of this period, I became enamored with that little poor man of Assisi, Francis, with whom I identified in so many ways. In my faith journey I reached out to one of his brothers, a holy Franciscan priest named Fr. Michael Scanlan, T.O.R. who was the rector of a seminary in Pennsylvania.
When I left the monastery - after discerning I was not called to consecrated celibacy - I called Fr. Mike. He had taken over the presidency of a small college in Steubenville, Ohio and was dedicated to returning it to the faith. I had a year of philosophy and wanted to continue my studies. So, with his full support and encouragement, I joined him at that College as a kind of "first responder". I became a part of the early renewal of that great work of the Holy Spirit which led to what is now called the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
I led one of the first student households and helped in many other ways to form the Catholic culture on campus, one of the distinctive marks of that now extraordinary Catholic College. I became a worker in the vineyard, a part of that miracle of the Lord. I soon graduated with honors in philosophy and theology. After marrying my wonderful wife on the campus we began to have children. I went on to law school in nearby Pittsburgh. Upon graduation I stayed to serve the work of Steubenville in any way that I could, standing with Fr. Michael Scanlan. I learned so much from that wonderful priest and champion of the Church.
In the nineties, I started my first law firm while still helping Fr Mike in his work. I soon left the practice to go in house as a Dean. I served as the Dean of Students and the Dean of Evangelization. That chapter of my life helped to informed the chapters of my life which followed. I love that College and consider it to be one of the seeds of the spiritual renewal which has broken forth in Catholic higher education around the world. I was privileged to stand at the side of a man who understood the mission of a Catholic College and had the courage and the heroic faith to fight to both establish it and protect it against all odds.
The Catholic College is not a private College with a church affiliation. Catholic identity is not an "add on" to its mission but the very lifeblood which animates it. Catholic identity at a Catholic College requires that the academic community understand its ecclesial nature. In an institution, just as in persons, it begins from the inside and works its way throughout like leaven or yeast in a loaf. Catholic identity must be the beating heart of a Catholic College and provide the infrastructure for its entire educational mission.
Catholic culture on campus becomes a fruit of this mission.This Catholic culture then helps to ensure the integration of the faith in every aspect of the academy, through both word and witness. Catholic identity flourishes when all who are involved in this educational mission, from the Catholic College President to the Professor in the classroom, first view themselves as disciples, lifelong learners, followers of the Teacher, Jesus Christ. The Christian life is lived within the Body of Christ, the Church, into which we have been incorporated through Baptism. The Catholic College is an expression of that Church.
The Church is by its very nature, a teacher. Those involved in serving at a Catholic College participate in the educational mission of the Church. Education is the very heart of the ecclesial mission. In speaking of herself, the Church often notes that she is an "expert in humanity" who "walks the way of the person". In the words of Pope John XXIII echoed many pronouncements of the Magisterium, The Church is, both "Mater et Magister" "Mother and Teacher." She is an educating community and institution.
Education is not something the Church adds something to, as though the process of educating were some kind of nakedly secular pursuit which the Church somehow makes "religious". Rather, education is the very heart of the Churches' mission. On August 15, 1990 Pope John Paul II, issued his apostolic letter "Ex Corde Ecclesia" (At the Heart of the Church) affirming the vital mission of the Catholic College. In that letter Blessed John Paul II wrote:
"Since the objective of a Catholic University is to assure in an institutional manner a Christian presence in the university world confronting the great problems of society and culture, every Catholic University, as Catholic, must have the following essential characteristics: 1. a Christian inspiration not only of individuals but of the university community as such; 2. a continuing reflection in the light of the Catholic faith upon the growing treasury of human knowledge, to which it seeks to contribute by its own research; 3. fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church; 4. an institutional commitment to the service of the people of God and of the human family in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life"
The Catholic College is NOT simply another private College with a church affiliation. It is a Catholic College. Catholic identity is not an "add on" to its mission but the very lifeblood which animates it. In his masterful letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul calls all Christians to a "renewal of their minds". (Romans 12:2) This renewal of the mind is the essence of Catholic education.
In an age which is being enslaved by the Dictatorship of Relativism, the Catholic College affirms the existence of truth and insists that there is a constitutive connection between truth, freedom, education and the ability to form an authentically human and just culture. This commitment to truth characterizes the entire Catholic educational mission.
In the words of the great Western Bishop Augustine: "Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and members" mean? Christ and the Church."
The living Christ still teaches and directs His Church. Through that Church he continues to influence all of human culture. The faithful of the Church are called to inculcate and live the truth as articulated under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the teaching office of the Church. At the forefront of the mission of the Catholic Church is the education of the next generation of faithfully Catholic men and women who do just that. It is Christ the Teacher who teaches His children in the Catholic College. As the late John Paul II said so succinctly in an address to educators in 1979 "Catholic education is above all a question of communicating Christ, of helping to form Christ in the lives of others."
Education is about much more than increasing earnings capacity. It is about cultivating character and instilling virtue. Catholic education is about even more, it is about preparing men and women to participate in the ongoing redemptive mission of Jesus Christ. The Catholic College serves a vital role in the mission of the Church in this critical time in history.
Recently, I read an article by a friend and a great public servant, Ken Blackwell entitled "Will Obama Destroy Franciscan University of Steubenville?" In it he reported that "(President) Obama's HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, is trying to force Steubenville to dispense abortion-producing drugs and pay for sterilizations. This is a Roman Catholic institution. Such things are strictly proscribed by the Catholic faith.
"Sec. Sebelius may be aware that Catholic institutions are required by faith and fidelity to their mission to uphold these principles. It is an indispensable part of their mission and their reason for being. To force a Catholic institution to violate the consciences of its faculty, students and alumni in this fashion is like forcing a Yeshiva to serve pork to Orthodox Jewish students.
"This attempt to crush The Franciscan University of Steubenville is, tragically, not an isolated example. From the first days of the Obama administration, there has been a kulturkampf (culture clash) against Catholic institutions not seen since the days of the Iron Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck. It was Bismarck who attempted to put all churches and universities in Prussia under his hobnailed boot."
Ken correctly asserted the "Obama administration is also the most anti-Catholic administration in American history. Never before have tens of millions of Catholic Americans been forced to subsidize the killing of unborn children with their taxes-as they are under ObamaCare.
"But now they are also forcing Catholic institutions to take part in the destruction of innocent human lives and the maiming of others by paying for abortifacients and sterilizations. As Americans, we must defend our religious liberties--while we still have them. Steubenville is a little college, but there are those who love it!"
As one of thousands of "living stones" (I Peter 2:5) formed in the early days at Steubenville, I know that genuinely Catholic University will not bend the knee to the new Caesar. I also want Fr Terry, Fr Michaels worthy successor, to know I am still a loyal living stone, placed in the foundation of that great work. I will help him and that wonderful University in any way that I can.
I ask the readers of Catholic Online to pray for Franciscan University of Steubenville. I also ask you to pray for all other genuinely Catholic Universities. The promise of Jesus still stands. The Catholic College, as a part of the Church which Jesus founded upon Peter the Rock, still stands under the protection of heaven. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. (Matt. 16:17,18)
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