When you and your spouse decided to begin your family did you ever think where they would go to college? Maybe I’m different, or really didn’t think it would come this fast! Now, here we are I have a teenager who is getting ready to begin his freshman year at college! College, graduation and remaining catholic all at the same time is a challenge!
Suddenly, I am hit with this overwhelming feeling of did we prepare him enough for the road ahead. I am worried obviously that he can shop on his own, and do his laundry and all that yeah. But what about the faith? Did I prepare him enough in the short time I had to lean on his faith and let it be his guide? Catholic Answers puts out a neat little book on Staying Catholic in College , it can be a little tool to help along the way. I would recommend buying, it as a parent, to have in your arsenal. But I would also invest in one for each one of the kids as they go away!
Living the Faith as a Family
My wife and I practice our faith, we go to Church, we live a prayerful life. Our family celebrates the sacraments, we spend Sunday’s together. We discuss our faith and the kids have all received instruction in the faith and all the necessary sacraments. But did we discuss it as it pertains to life beyond the safety of the home?
It is quite shocking to me, I never really paid much attention to the fact that he would be moving away, and it was coming fast! Four years of High School flew by so quickly. Let me tell you that the constant search for a solid college was a treat too! Where in the world is a solid Catholic College? Notre Dame, is a great college. Growing up I dreamed of being part of that great university. I wanted to have all my kids go there. Consequently, my childhood hero even went there, Joe Montana. It was destiny! Then I watched as my Catholic College, fell to liberal ideologies and became more secularized. So now what? Where do I look for authentic Catholic Colleges?
What Colleges are really Catholic
I did a little research and found that The Cardinal Newman Society had a website with some suggestions. From online to residential to international suggestions. I can say through contacts and friends who have attended some on the list as well as my own attendance at some of the locations on this list they are seriously Catholic and have amazing academics!
Ave Maria University has received great reviews from all sorts of backgrounds. I have heard many good things about the authentic holiness that emanates from this College.
Franciscan University of Steubenville, is another great college full of great minds in catechesis and Theology and a a philosophy built on community and accountability.
Aquinas College in Nashville, is a solid school for Catholic teaching. Run by the Dominicans it is very faithful to the magisterium and has a focus on living Sacramentally.
All three offer wonderful opportunities for students to meet other faithful Catholics and to hear great speakers and attend some awesome events through the course of their learning there.
Focus on Community
Searching for colleges and facing the fact of your kids leaving is stressful enough. As Catholics if we can find solid schools for them to attend that will help them stay the course it only helps. I mean isn’t that what the faith is about? Community is supposed to be a main stay of our Church. Most of us try to get away from the communal aspect of it for whatever reason. Maybe it is accountability, or maybe it is we are shy to admit we don’t know or live the faith as much as we feel we should. Who knows, honestly who cares? Maybe we can send our kids off to a solid Catholic campus and they can come back and teach us a thing or two. Then our investment pays off two fold.
Advice to new parents and to those who are getting to the point of the college search. Begin early, don’t wait till everyone else starts looking. My middle school kids are looking into colleges now. Send away for information early. But even more than that, I would say get involved in your parish. In some form of community environment. In this time of Easter we hear a lot about the “Community of Believers”.
Community is not just the crowd we gather with on Sundays. We should gather together with others, who are faithful members of the Body of Christ. For accountability and for support in rough times. Authentic friendships in Christ. Then we have nurtured that in our children too. So that when they go to whatever college they choose. They will know to look for a community of catholic believers too. And will want to be held accountable for their daily lives.
Give them the proper supplies
We can’t prepare them for everything that will come their ways. They will certainly be faced with temptations and will fall for some of them. We can not wrap them in bubble wrap and place them on a shelf to keep them from all dangers. That would not be fair, and would not be Catholic. What we can do it prepare them best we can. Entrust them to Our Lady, and teach them to look for those who are filled with the Authentic Faith of Jesus Christ.
Regardless of where they go it ultimately is up to them to embrace the faith, we have given them all the tools needed. It is time to assume our roles as advocates before His thrown for them, and to pray as they embark on this journey. I have not read the book yet but I have heard of great reviews on the book ” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener sponsored nofollow”>How I stayed Catholic At Harvard I am looking forward to reading it and seeing what interesting insights are shared on the writers journey through school in a very secular world.
Elements of the Domestic Church to take with them
We should also send them to college with a few more things to help them on their journey. Every student should have a good” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener sponsored nofollow”> Catholic Bible and their ” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener sponsored nofollow”>catechism. I would recommend the Youcat as it is smaller in size and easier to understand. We should also remind them to take their rosary!
No student should leave home without their rosary. They might not pray it, but in times of trouble they might just reach for it! Last but not least is a good Catholic Picture! Maybe their patron Saint, an image of Our Lady, or the Sacred Heart. Something that will hang in their dorm and remind them. Have the Rosary and Image blessed by your parish priest and make it a family thing! Like I said in the beginning, College, graduation and remaining catholic all at the same time is a challenge! So working together we can help make it a little easier.