The Catholic University of America

Elise Crawford

Studying Marriage, Family at John Paul II Institute 

Elise Crawford, a 2012 graduate with a degree in philosophy and pre-law track, planned on going to law school. Instead of becoming a lawyer, she decided to enroll at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.

"I chose pre-law [at CUA] because my dad is a lawyer and I thought I would go to law school, but that desire to understand the human person and to understand myself more drove me to the John Paul II Institute."

She recalls how her time at CUA as an undergraduate helped her gain insight into her role in society and in the Church.

“When I became involved in the Live Out Love club and became a resident minister, that was my first encounter with any kind of idea of a pro-life or theological approach to life, [which propelled] me into a desire to know what our purpose is in life, ” says Crawford.

She also was involved in campus life as a RENEW core leader, President’s Society member, and Radius secretary and president. In addition, she interned at the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute in Washington, D.C.

She says her love for the University inspired her to get involved. “I really believe in the mission of CUA as being a beacon of faith for the United States and for young people.”

At the Institute, she is enrolled in the Master of Theological Studies: Marriage and Family Program.  The roles she obtained while at CUA helped shape her perspective on marriage and family today. “The John Paul II Institute teaches that civilization passes through the family. My experiences at CUA [showed] me how much students are still affected by their families, [which showed me] how important it is to understand the family,” says Crawford.

She decided to continue her studies at the institute because of its curriculum. The John Paul II Institute has two program tracks for students to pursue: bioethics or marriage and family. The institute studies the human person in theological, philosophical, anthropological, and cosmological-scientific dimensions. It is one of seven institutions in the country that grants degrees by authority of the Holy See, according to its website. 

“We really study the anthropology of the human person, which means understanding how the Church meets the modern world,” said Crawford. “I wanted to be formed to be active in the Church and active within society so I can bring others to know what we are made for.”
Crawford is currently involved with Communion and Liberation, an ecclesiastical law movement within the Church. After she completes her master's, she hopes to go into pro-life advocacy through public policy or teaching. She adds that her education, faith, and leadership skills will enable her to become the woman God created her to be. "I understand more my role in the Church and society and how I am meant to affect [both]." 

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Elise Crawford 

Hometown: Ellicott City, Md. 

On being a new alumna: "I feel very proud of my alma mater. I am very proud of my education and of where it brought me."

Favorite study spot: Mary's Garden

Favorite class at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute: Faith and American Culture Class

Fun Fact: Co-founded CUA's Encounter with The Spirit prayer group. 

Current Internship: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Pro-Life Secretariat