Catholic Student Housing

The NYT has a feature on a Christian dorm at a public university (Troy, in Alabama) built and run by Catholics.

Different opinions, including a thumbs-up from university chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr:

It is not about proselytizing, but about bringing a values-based opportunity to this campus.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation gives a thumbs-down:

We are very concerned about this idea of religious-based dorms. This is very insidious.

Matt Zerrusen, president of the Newman Student Housing Fund, which financed the dorm, spoke about building in 3% Catholic territory:

It’s definitely an evangelization opportunity, which is why we went down there.

A student doesn’t mind:

We don’t want to offend people, but we don’t want to be offended. We have to be tolerant of so many things, but nobody has to be tolerant of religion.

I seriously doubt that my parish would ever consider opening a residence hall. It’s a lot of work (for someone) for an endeavor that doesn’t really address the matter of evangelization on campus. I’d like to think we do better investing in people rather than buildings. Leader to cultivate dialogue with non-believers.

That said, many young Catholics do feel besieged. They see a Newman Center as a refuge. Would a dormitory serve the same purpose?

On the other hand, when Pope Francis talks about taking the Gospel to the farthest boundaries, I’m not sure building Catholic dorms on Bible Belt campuses is exactly what he has in mind.

Constitutional scholars and other concerned citizens see problems. I’m not sure I see too many benefits.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Catholic Student Housing

  1. John Mack says:

    Well this sounds very different from Catholic colleges in the northeast, where drinking and sports are the real religion.

  2. John Donaghy says:

    If it were a real community (or a number of communities), with a sense of Catholic identity in the broadest sense, with a sense of mission – to other students and to the poor, with a Gospel- and prayer-spirituality it could be a leaven and an antidote to consumerism, upward mobility, drinking and sports.

  3. Mary says:

    All I see are problems: if a student misbehaves, doesn’t pay, you have to kick them out for the sake of the other students – but this will never be perceived a Christian. Bottom line: the church cannot be a landlord and an advocate for the poor a the same time.

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