The Catholic University of America

April 4, 2007

CUA President Exhorts Catholic Institutions to 'Live Up to the Ideal'

At the invitation of Bishop Lawrence Brandt of the Diocese of Greenburg, Pa., Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., president of Catholic University, joined St. Vincent College President James Towey, Esq., and Seton Hill University President Joanne Boyle, Ph.D., on April 3, 2007, to address administration, faculty and staff of the two Pennsylvania schools on the subject of Catholic identity and mission in Catholic institutions of higher learning.

"All of us who work at Catholic universities or colleges - administration, faculty, staff as well as students - need to understand what the label 'Catholic' means before we can reveal our 'catholicity' to the world and make a real contribution as a result," Father O'Connell said. "Similarly, we need to make an institutional commitment to live up to the ideal."

Father O'Connell cited five specific areas for reflection: leadership, faculty/curriculum, campus ministry, student life and relationship to the universal/local Church. "It is our responsibility," he stated, "to attract to our campus not only those who are the 'best in their fields' but also 'the best in their faith.'" He concluded, "At the end of the day, it is not enough simply to presume on our Catholic identity and mission. We have to make it happen."

Father O'Connell's remarks highlighted the ways Pope John Paul II's apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, contributed to the discussion of Catholic identity and mission within the Church's colleges and universities.

Introducing Father O'Connell, Bishop Brandt called CUA's president "not merely a theoretician in the area of Catholic identity, but a practitioner, widely recognized for his expertise."

In her presentation, President Boyle shared the story of an alumna who returned to Seton Hill University campus earlier in the week to express her gratitude for the university's support in her own journey of faith. Citing a passage from the Gospel of John (14:2), President Towey remarked that he has observed how the "many dwellings" on the campus of St. Vincent College have been established to lead students to the realization of truth and an ever-deeper commitment of faith.

Approximately 150 people from both institutions attended the gathering, which was held at St. Joseph's Conference Center in Greensburg.


Media contact(s):
· Chris Harrison, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,
· Katie Lee, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,