I’m Catholic and Conservative and Not Sorry

During my time at Carlow University, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve been able to explore my faith, and I’ve gained a better understanding of what all I can do with it. Currently, I’m going through a process of discernment, and I’m strongly considering a future in the seminary. I’ve been lucky enough to find a select few people here at Carlow to help me in my discernment process; however, it’s been a challenge expressing my Catholic, and often conservative views on campus.

Carlow succeeds in embracing its Mercy identity. Mercy is weaved throughout almost all the classes offered here, as well as student run clubs and activities. This is wonderful, and I very much appreciate that; however, I do believe that without properly valuing the Catholic part of our identity as a University, we can’t fully embrace our Mercy identity. They go hand in hand.

While I think it’s wonderful that we value our Mercy tradition, I wish we could put as much focus on our Catholic heritage as well. I attend Mass twice a week here on campus, and I am often the only student at the Thursday mass. Usually, there are only three or four people there, including the Priest. At the Sunday mass on campus, we have fewer people show up than we have fingers and toes to count on. In addition, I have felt that I could not freely talk about my faith and my beliefs with my peers, in the classroom or out.  My understanding for this is: we apologize for our Catholic heritage. I’ve spoken with several faculty and staff members here at Carlow, and they agree with me. When I toured Carlow’s campus as a prospective student, I was told that Carlow is a Catholic university, but Catholic “with a small ‘c’.”  I still hear this being referenced today, especially as a Carlow SPiRiT ambassador. While some might think it’s ok to say this, I don’t think there’s a reason to use  that phrase. We were founded by the Sisters of Mercy as a Catholic institution, with a capital ‘C’.  

I don’t think we should apologize for being a Catholic University.  Although we were founded in the rich tradition of the Catholic Church, that doesn’t mean we don’t support those who follow different faith traditions. When we say, “We’re Catholic with a small ‘c’,” I feel as if we are saying sorry for something we should be proud of.  Perhaps, if we embraced our Catholic identity as much as our Mercy identity, more students would be attending Mass.

I’m hopeful for change at Carlow University, for the better. My hope is that students who are Catholic and conservative will not have to apologize for it and be able to be express who they are without judgment from others.

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1 reply »

  1. Hi, Russell! Remember me from First UMC, Waynesburg. I am glad you are embracing your university and its rich Catholic history. However, catholic with a small ‘c’ is not apologetic no matter which faith uses it. It’s inclusive of all people. Your school is saying we will accept you whether or not you are Catholic. United Methodists say in the Apostles’ Creed last paragraph ” we believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church , the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” I think you are sensitive because of your recent embracement of Catholicism. If Carlow wasn’t welcoming of the small ‘c’ catholic church prior to your conversion, based on your interpretation, you would not have been accepted to Carlow. Be proud, but be cautious. Conservatism has nothing to do with it, in my opinion. Grace does. Blessings, Mrs G.

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