By Luke Olley
Despite being two Catholic institutions, only a little more than half of the students at CSB/SJU identify as Catholic. And being Catholic does not guarantee singularity of opinion. This is evident with hot issues that buzz around campus every day, such as the debate chronicled in The Record about a pro-choice club.
Even though our school is Catholic, I believe that you shouldn’t be required to
adhere to Catholic teachings on campus. I’m Catholic, and I often miss the mark myself. But, I do believe CSB/SJU can and should do a better job of learning what it means to be Catholic.
As first-years, nearly all of us took a lower theology class. In my class, we examined the Old testament and questioned what it means to have faith. It was by no means a bad class, but there was nothing to distinguish itself from a Biblical Studies class at Bethel, Martin Luther or any other Christian school we have in Minnesota.
I don’t recall having a conversation about the Eucharist, the Catechism or even Jesus for that matter.
Many of our non-Catholic students have a negative view of Catholicism, whether it be disagreement on reproductive rights or pedophilia and economic scandals. Other non-Catholic students find issue with the fact that they cannot take
communion, or that the entire congregation knows what to say, resulting in them feeling out of step and excluded. One common complaint that my non-Catholic friends have told me is that they feel that (theologically) Catholics think they are better than everyone else. These problems could easily be covered in a lower level theology class.
There are great outlets on campus for learning about Catholicism outside the
classroom. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) has three missionaries stationed on the first floor of Mary Hall that would be more than happy to talk about being Catholic. We also have Campus Ministry offices on both campuses that can be a sound resource.
As a Catholic male who has gone through Catholic schools his entire life, I understand that my viewpoint is privileged. I have never been told to compromise my behavior for a belief system, nor have I felt like a member of an “out-group” as it pertains to a matter of faith. I only think that as a Catholic institution, instruction specifically in the Catholic tradition should be provided. Additionally, I believe that students should take it upon themselves to learn more about what the Church and what it means to be Catholic.
Being Catholic is so much more than believing that life begins at conception or following the pope. It means believing in the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. It means being a faith of all nations; Catholic means “universal.” I am not calling for campus-wide indoctrination, nor an increase in Catholic culture, I just think our community can do more to understand the belief system our two institutions are built upon.
This is the opinion of Luke Olley, SJU junior