Evangelization as fitting for the Catholic university

If we run over the components of evangelization outlined by Paul VI it is striking how fitting evangelization should be intrinsic to the Catholic university — and how solicitous must a Bishop be for the well being of universities within his diocese.

Renewal of humanity, witness, proclamation, adhesion of the soul, joining the community of believers, participation in signs, apostolic work. These activities are fitting for places where the young congregate and learning is advanced. The success f Newman Groups at Texas A&M or University of Illinois show the power of the word among the youth when Catholics are willing to put themselves out for the young.

I have always liked this passage from Ex corde (§48) in which he quotes Paul VI:

“The primary mission of the Church is to preach the Gospel in such a way that a relationship between faith and life is established in each individual and in the sociocultural context in which individuals live and act and communicate with one another. Evangelization means ‘bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new…. It is a question not only of preaching the Gospel in ever wider geographic areas or to ever greater numbers of people, but also of affecting and, as it were, upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, humanity’s criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation.’ (from Evangelization in the Modern World)”

In a university setting, the activity of challenging received standards of judgment, and using the Socratic method for questioning the settled assumptions of secular culture, should be a part of every classroom. Witness of life and proclamation of the truth of Christ could be quite natural in this setting. But again, it is clear that faculty are instrumental for this to happen. Who will educate the educators?.

1 Comment
  1. This is a critical insight because part of the problem in the Academy is that those who teach have lost the sense of a telos. This bad enough at a strictly secular university but somewhat understandable because of this stance. There is no telos to aim at despite Latin phraseology on university crests. But at a Catholic university for this telos to be forgotten or worse ignored is a scandal. I like how you say that the Socratic model should prevail Similarly, when teaching our students we should raise Christ's key question, even if indirectly, "Who do you say say that I am.?"

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