Walter Ong, SJ’s essay on Catholic higher education gives us an image for our identity at St. Catherine University. Pointing out that the Greek word katholikos means “throughout the whole,” Ong says Catholic universities are to be like yeast, affecting all with whom we come into contact by our search for the common good. Our search for truth, goodness, and beauty is to move outward “throughout the whole” of society. Ong writes: “We need the collaboration of all the knowledgeable people we can relate to …. The Catholic intellectual life that lies ahead is one we can welcome.” See Ong—Yeast, 1990
At St. Catherine University, we live our Catholic identity by committing to engage with and learn from each other in ever-larger wholes. We expect to learn from every member of this community—inclusive of gender, ethnicity, identity, ability and faith tradition. We begin by respecting each other, both seeking to refrain from harming one another and committing to make amends when we do cause harm. We, all of us together, want to grow into a deeper understanding of who we are and what our human lives are for.
Sister of St. Joseph Helen Prejean (CSJ, Province of Medaille) has her own way of speaking about katholikos, saying that our task is to open up to a “power and life that brings [us] into the big waters, then dissolves boundaries quietly, gently, like the unfolding of the petals of a rose.” (p. 253, Flinders, 2006)
From Ong and Prejean, we learn about our Catholic identity: we learn that we are to commit ourselves to seeking a wisdom that will show itself when, together, we search for truth, goodness and beauty.
The Catholic identity of St. Catherine University leads us to value:
Believing there is a spark of divine dignity in each person here, we commit to learning from one another—from all who join our community.
Believing that truth opens out into goodness, we commit ourselves to finding deeper ways to love and do justice in the world.
Taking seriously the divine promise inscribed in words on our Chapel’s altar (“Behold I make all things new”), we seek to be bringers of beauty, making our world more livable and spreading hope “throughout the whole” of our University, our surrounding community, our world.
The Catholic Intellectual Tradition is an ongoing search for TRUTH; so, it brings us into conversation with all good-willed seekers of truth—across academic disciplines, historical periods and spiritual traditions. We are convinced that, deeply understood, faith and reason are partners, not antagonists in the ongoing search for truth. The CIT is something received, shared, revised, and passed on. Faculty, staff, and students, all of us, are both recipients and sharers of the tradition. Our faith is made manifest when we open ourselves to REFLECTION and learn from each other in an ongoing search for truth.
The Catholic Social Teaching Tradition calls us to seek GOODNESS; we do this by engaging with, serving and learning from those who find themselves on the margins of society. We work toward a more just world by advocating for, including and learning from marginalized persons. But not only from our fellow human beings: we expect our lives to affect and be affected by an ever-wider circle of God’s creation, human beings and all sentient beings alike. Like our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph, we commit to LOVE our “dear neighbor, without distinction” so that God’s inclusive reign of goodness and justice may be more and more evident in the world.
Our Sacramental Tradition calls us to open ourselves to the BEAUTY and mystery of God in everyday experiences and interactions, even in the hardest, most difficult and even tragic experiences. Through personal and communal meditation, prayer, contemplation (or through all of the above!), we commit ourselves to grounding ourselves more deeply in the reality of mystery and beauty, so that together we can increase HOPE in the world. In sum, our faith calls us to REFLECTION; our commitment to goodness calls us to LOVE; and our commitment to seeking beauty calls us to increase HOPE to the world.
In sum, our faith calls us to REFLECTION; our commitment to goodness calls us to LOVE; and our commitment to seeking beauty calls us to increase HOPE to the world.
The Myser Initiative brings in professionals annually who exemplify in their life and work, the values and principles inherent in the Catholic Identity of St. Catherine University. Discover how these leaders are living our Catholic identity.
Here are the three faculty members bringing St. Catherine University's mission to life.