Students in action: working for Olympic moment of silence

Students in the Sociology of Sports class at The Catholic University of America have joined a project to try to commemorate the massacre of 11 Israeli Olympic team members at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

In addition to posting this video on YouTube, in December the students wrote Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, and Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Organizing Committee, urging a moment of silence during the opening ceremony July 27. CUA President John Garvey supported the students’ letter in his own letter to the officials, dated May 31.

Members of the sociology of sports class at The Catholic University of America advocate one moment of silence during the opening ceremony of the Olympics to commemorate the Munich Massacre. (CNS photo/courtesy of David Bauman, CUA)

In the letter, the students said although they were not born at the time of the massacre, “We are the Sept. 11 generation … we are confident that we have (an) understanding of the magnitude of the attacks that occurred on Sept. 5, 1972.

In their video, the students ask others to sign a petition for the moment of silence.

“This is not about politics, this is not even about religion,” said one student.”This is about 11 victims who lost their lives by an act of terror.”

In 1972, members of the Palestinian group Black September kidnapped the Israeli team members and demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners. The Israelis, a West German police officer and eight members of Black September were killed. Israel is widely believed to have retaliated against those suspected of involvement, beginning with military operations in 1973.

Catholic Charities USA makes top 10 in Philanthropy 400

This week the Chronicle of Philanthropy published it annual Philanthropy 400, those U.S. organizations that raised the most money in the last year. According to reporters Noelle Barton and Holly Hall, who wrote the piece accompanying the list, “America’s big charities expect fundraising to rise in 2011, but the increase won’t come close to making up what they lost in the downturn.”

Philanthropic giving in the U.S. still has yet to recover from the losses in the 2008 recession. Most of this year’s gains, they reported, were seen by international charities that receive in-kind gifts and by community foundations and organizations that receive donated stock.

“When those groups are excluded from analysis, the increase in gifts was flat,” they said.

Catholic or Catholic-related organizations in the Philanthropy 400, their ranking and their total 2010 gifts are:

10. Catholic Charities USA, $793,815,584

15. American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, $659,370,821

51. Catholic Relief Services, $294,287,000

78. University of Notre Dame, 221,615,902

110. Catholic Medical Mission Board, $177,207,054

144. Christian Appalachian Project, (Ky.), $131,586,590

147. Father Flanagan Boys’ Home (Neb.), $130,737,000

159. Boston College, $120,537,000

160. St. Mary’s Food Bank (Ariz.), $119,703,302

214. Georgetown University, $90,858,000

221. Catholic Healthcare West (Calif.), $86,286,000

288. Marquette University, $60,461,194

340. Covenant House, $51,195,438

394. Villanova University, $43,483,000

Catholic institutions that made last year’s list but fell from the top 400 this year are Fordham University, Le Moyne College and St. Louis University.

According to the report, “charities in the Philanthropy 400 are an important bellwether for the state of giving, and how American donors are responding to the bad economy. The nonprofits on the list raise $1 of every $4 contributed to nonprofit causes.”

Rare voice: Flannery O’Connor reads from “Good Man”

Author Flannery O’Connor lingers long in Southern Catholic letters. One of the best-known and strongest Catholic apologists during the 20th century, along with fellow Southerner Walker Percy and only a handful of others, she remains today widely read and taught. She was a prodigious writer of novels, short stories and essays.

Born in Savannah in 1925, of parents from two of Georgia’s oldest Catholic families, she spent the latter part of her life in Milledgeville, Ga., where she struggled with a debilitating disease, systemic lupus erythematosus. Her father had died of it in her youth, and the disease would claim her in 1964 at age 39.

There is an entire academic industry around O’Connor. Next month, Loyola University Chicago will hold a three-day symposium on her life, work and influence on modern Catholic thought.

In New Yorker magazine’s The Book Bench, writer Mark O’Connell posted a blog this week about O’Connor and turned up a rare recording of her reading an excerpt from her acclaimed short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The reading is from a 1959 writers’ conference at Vanderbilt University.

It is a remarkable find of the voice of a remarkable Catholic writer, possibly the finest of her generation.

Catholic universities, colleges rank well in 2012 US News annual best list

It seems that everyone is in the school-ranking games these days. Indeed, you can’t turn around without getting a top 10 list of everything from movies to animal acts. However, U.S. News and World Report remains the all-time champion of university and college ranking. Academicians love to hate them, but they all check it out.

In the just-published 2012 rankings, the 250 or so American Catholic colleges and universities did well, especially in the liberal arts and regional universities categories. Here they are:

Among the national universities — those that offer a full range of undergraduate and graduate degrees and do grand-breaking research — the University of Notre Dame again led the pack at #19. Georgetown University was next at #22. In the top 100 were Boston College, #31, Fordham University, #53, Marquette University, #82, St. Louis University, #90, and the University of San Diego, #97.

Also in the top ranking national universities are University of Dayton, #101, and University of St. Thomas (Minn.), #115. Four tied for #119: The Catholic University of America, Duquesne University, Loyola University Chicago and University of San Francisco. DePaul and Seton Hall universities tied at #132. The other ranking schools were St. John Fisher University, #143, St. John’s University (N.Y.), #152, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, #177, and Immaculata University, #194.

In the rankings for liberal arts colleges — those that “emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half their degrees in liberal arts fields” — College of the Holy Cross ranked highest at #29. St. John’s University (Minn.) and Thomas Aquinas College (Calif.) tied for #71. The College of St. Benedict (Minn.) tied with St. Mary’s College (Ind.) for #90. St. Michael’s College ranked at #99.

Filling out the liberal arts rankings were Siena and Stonehill colleges tying at #112, St. Norbert College, #127, St. Anselm College, #139, and St. Vincent College, #157.

The annual ranking groups together regional universities. These are defined as offering “a full range of undergrad programs and some master’s programs but few doctoral programs.”

In the south, Loyola University New Orleans was the top Catholic school at #8. Bellarmine University, #14, Spring Hill College, #17, and Christian Brothers University, #24, made the top 25. The others that ranked were Marymount University (Va.), #45, Thomas More College, #49, and tying at #63 were two Florida Catholic universities, St. Leo and St. Thomas.

Catholic universities rocked the western rankings with Trinity, Santa Clara, Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount (Calif.) taking, respectively, the first four spots. Seattle University was a close #6, and the University of Portland was #9. In the top 25 were also St. Mary’s College of California, #12, and three Texas schools, University of Dallas, #14, St. Edward’s University, #21, and St. Mary’s University of San Antonio, #22.

Others in the western rankings were Mount St. Mary’s College (Calif.), #28, University of St. Thomas (Texas), #30, Regis University, #31, Dominican University of California, #37. St. Martin’s University, #57, Notre Dame de Namur University, #69, and Holy Names University, #83.

Both the Midwest and the North are jam-packed with Catholic schools, and there was an explosion of them on the listings.

In the Midwest, Creighton University took the #1 spot. Xavier University (Ohio) was #4, and John Carroll University (Ohio) was #7. In the top 25 also were St. Catherine University, #14, Dominican (Ill.) and Rockhurst universities tying at #19 and University of Detroit Mercy, #23. Rounding out the top 50 were the College of St. Scholastica, #26, Franciscan University of Steubenville, #32. Illinois’ St. Xavier University and the University of St. Francis tying for #37, St. Ambrose University, #40, and Lewis University, #41.

Ranking in the top 100 were Aquinas College (Mich.), #53, Alverno College, #62, Fontbonne University, #66, College of Mount St. Joseph (Ohio) and Walsh University tying at #72, Ursuline College, #78, College of St. Mary (Neb.), #81, and Avila University, #88. Quincy University was at #91, and Madonna University was at #96. Ohio Dominican University tied with University of St. Francis (Ind.) at #98.

Finishing the ranking in the midwest were University of Mary (N.D.), #103, Marian University, #109, and Newman and Viterbo universities at #110.

The largest region, of course, is the north. Again Catholic universities trumped took the top four spots with Villanova, Fairfield, Loyola Maryland and Providence respectively ranking. St. Joseph (Penn.) and Scranton universities tied at #8. Making the top 25 also were Marist College, #13, Manhattan College, #15, Le Moyne College, #18, Canisius College, #20 and Mount St. Mary’s University (Md.), #21.

In the top 50 also were Iona College, #30, Notre Dame of Maryland and St. Bonaventure universities tying at #32, Assumption College and Salve Regina University tying at #34, College of St. Rose, #39, LaSalle and Sacred Heart universities tying at #41, St. Francis University (Penn.), #46, and Mercyhurst College, #49.

Following in the top 100 were Marywood College and Misericordia University tying at #52, Emmanuel College, #60, Niagara University, #68, Rosemont College, #74, DeSales University, #79, St. Joseph College (Conn.), #82, and St. Joseph College New York, #91.

Also in the north regional ranking were Gregorian Court University, #102, Holy Family University and St. Peter’s College tying at #104, New York colleges, Mount St. Vincent and St. Thomas Aquinas, tying at #125, Chestnut Hill and Mount St. Mary (N.Y.) colleges tying at #132, and Albert Magnus and Alvernia colleges tying at #136.

Regional colleges are defined as schools that “focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than half their degrees in liberal arts disciplines.”

Four Catholic schools in the south were included: Wheeling Jesuit University, #8, Brescia University, #21, Belmont Abbey College, #38, and Aquinas College (Tenn.), #61.

Only two Catholic schools ranked in the west region, both in Montana: Carroll College and University of Great Falls.

In the midwest, eight Catholic schools made the rankings. They are Mount Mercy College, #24,  St. Mary-of-the-Woods College (Ind.), #25, Benedictine and St. Joseph (Ind.) colleges tying at #27, Marian University, #33, Mount Marty College, #40, Notre Dame College of Ohio, #50, and Silver Lake College, #63.

In the North, Catholic colleges are almost always large, but there are some small gems. Five ranked this year: Merrimack College, #8, Seton Hill University, #13, College of Our Lady of the Elms, #25, La Roche College, #30, and Mount Aloysius College, #37.

Of course, different ranking organizations rank in different ways. Rankings of neither #1 nor #150 indicate the success or failure of a student’s education. The criterion that the matters most of all is that a college and a student are well matched.

After the Arab dictators fall, will democracy follow?

A big question on everyone’s mind since the Arab Spring began  and dictators from North Africa to the Arabian peninsula began falling like dominos is “what will take their place?” In some places — Egypt, Tunisia and Libya the most recent — the rebels prevailed. Yet the opposition is unorganized. Who will fill the power vacuums and what form of government will emerge are still largely guesswork. Western hopes always look to democracy, but there is no guarantee. None of these states has ever had anything remotely resembling a democracy. Can it work?

Another even more compelling debate is whether democracy can work in an Islamic culture. Can one of the oldest forms of government and one of the world’s largest religions exist in harmony? Recall that not so many years ago some wondered whether Christian principles and a secular democracy could go hand-in-hand.

In the July issue of One magazine, the official publication of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, scholar John L. Esposito explores this issue in his article, “Is Islam Compatible with Democracy?” Esposito, a professor of international affairs and of Islamic studies, is the founding director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington. His conclusion: “The relationship of Islam and democracy remains central to the development of the Middle East and the Muslim world in the 21st century,” but it won’t be easy ironing it out. Moreover, the survival of ancient Christian communities in these lands may very well depend on a successful outcome.

Also check out the Alwaleed Center site for a video of Esposito discussing the future of Christian communities in the Middle East with pollster James Zogby.

What are your thoughts on the chances of democracy catching fire in these once oppressed nations?

Healing and teaching go hand-in-hand for Sister Diana

Religious orders of women are known far and wide for two important apostolates, education and healing. Teaching and nursing sisters and brothers are legendary around the world. Take a moment to meet a Dominican sister who unexpectedly found herself the lone medical practitioner in a community of teachers.

Vanderbilt Medicine, the alumni publication of the Vanderbilt School of Medicine, this issue profiles an alumna, Dominican Sister Mary Diana Dreger, a Long Island, N.Y., native who entered Cornell University as a pre-med student. After taking a year off and falling in love with teaching, she became a high school math and science teacher. Then she had a serendipitous encounter in Virginia with some Dominican sisters from Nashville, Tenn. The next thing she knew she was in the novitiate in the motherhouse of the Dominicans’ St. Cecilia Congregation.

A few years later, after Sister Diana took her final vows and was still teaching, the prioress general said, “I’m thinking of sending you to medical school.”

“Teach. Pray. Heal.” by Kathy Whitney is a great story of faith, commitment, trust and a bit of the unexpected from the hand of God and Mother Superior.

Catholic colleges, universities among US schools with largest education endowments

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports in its annual Almanac Issue 2010-2011 that 16 Catholic colleges and universities hold some of the largest endowments in North America. The Chronicle ranked 217 schools who participated in the survey by the 2010 National Association of College and University Business Officers.

Fordham among schools with largest endowments. (Photo/Fordham University)

Endowments are important to both public and private schools. Endowments provide two ready sources of funding for schools: interest on the endowment’s investment or cash from the endowment itself. Admittedly, schools are reluctant to spend down endowments they have worked so hard to build. Funds from endowments are used for scholarships, teaching, research, faculty salaries and infrastructure, and a host of other uses. A healthy endowment does not always ensure a quality education — there are a host of other factors that measure quality — but it never hurts.

The 16 Catholic colleges and universities with their rankings, locations and endowments are:

14. University of Notre Dame, Indiana, $5,234,841,000

37. Boston College, Massachusetts, $1,479,700,000

61. Georgetown University, District of Columbia, $1,009,735,760

88. St. Louis University, Missouri, $708,345,000

104. Santa Clara University, California, $603,617,774

120. College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts, $522,494,000

156. Fordham University, New York, $371,543,516

162. University of Dayton, Ohio, $346,581,897

168. Loyola Marymount University, California, $326,212,657

169. Marquette University, Wisconsin, $326,003,000

171. Creighton University, Nebraska, $317,824,000

180. St. John’s University, New York, $303,057,055

183. Villanova University, Pennsylvania, $297,684,473

187. University of St. Thomas, Minnesota, $294,007,718

196. DePaul University, Illinois, $284,017,288

215. University of San Diego, California, $259,994,000

Who hit the number one spot on the list? As always, Harvard University with over $27 billion in endowment, the largest by a magnitude. Yale, Princeton, the University of Texas system and Stanford round out the top five.

Forbes cites Catholic colleges in top U.S. 100

(Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Eight Catholic universities and colleges made Forbes’ top 100 in its annual list of America’s Top Colleges, published earlier this month.  The magazine lists 650 U.S. colleges and universities based on teaching quality, student career prospects, graduation rates and student debt levels, according to the magazine. The University of Notre Dame in Indiana ranked highest among Catholic schools at #18.

Here are the Catholic higher education institutions that made the top 100, along with their ranking, location, annual costs and enrollments:

  • 18 — University of Notre Dame, Indiana; $53,239; 11,816
  • 26 — Boston College, Massachusetts; $54,624; 15,036
  • 27 — College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts; $54,432; 2,932
  • 47 — Georgetown University, District of Columbia; $56,485; 16,520
  • 67 — Santa Clara University, California; $53,742; 8,846
  • 84 — St. Norbert College, Wisconsin; $37,392; 2,304
  • 85 — St. Anselm College, New Hampshire; $45,705; 1,915
  • 88 — St. Michael’s College, Vermont; $45,630; 2,466

Dozens of other Catholic schools were listed throughout the rankings.

College ranking always are dubious at best, but college administrators and recruiters continue a love-hate relationship with them since they don’t go unnoticed  by parents and students. Probably the best known rankings are the U.S. News and World Report annual lists of best colleges and graduate schools. The Forbes list uses a different methodology which takes into account student debt levels — a very important issue for students since it indicates the size of student loans that they may carry after graduation.

St. Gregory’s University student calls being Miss Indian Oklahoma 2011 an ‘honor’

Devon Frazier, a sophomore at St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Okla., says she “felt completely honored” when she heard her name called for the “prestigious title” of Miss Indian Oklahoma 2011 at the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women’s annual pageant in McAlester, Okla.

“My first reaction was to look at my mom – who made me stay up night after night to perfect and critique every little detail – and I knew I made her proud whether I had won or not,” Frazier said in a statement.

“We are very proud of Devon,” said Benedictine Father Nicholas Ast, St. Gregory’s vice president for mission and identity. “She is an exemplary young woman and represents St. Gregory’s University and the community well in all she does. We are pleased that she has this opportunity, and we support her fully.”

This spring Frazier was chosen for the title by a panel of judges based on her performance in several areas, including personal interview, essay, traditional dress, talent, platform and her answer to an impromptu question. The theme of  the 2011 pageant was “Honoring Our Mother’s Journey by Keeping Our Eyes on the Future and Our Hearts in the Past.”

According to the pageant’s custom, Frazier was presented with a silver crown and cedar box. Her reign will last one year. Continue reading

Confirmand raises bar for re-gifting

First communicants (CNS photo)

First communicants and confirmandi are often given the gift of cash from well-meaning (but gift-giving-challenged)  friends and family members.

The recipients can then buy something for themselves — or they could follow the example of  Brianna Montecalvo   and donate the cash to a worthy cause.

As the Rhode Island Catholic reports, Brianna recently gave $800 from her confirmation gifts to the Alzheimer’s Association in memory of her grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and died four years ago.

The 16-year-old student from La Salle Academy in Providence told the diocesan newspaper she was happy to make the contribution and felt her grandmother would be proud of her. She also said she hoped the donation would help her mature.

She only wished she had done something like this before. She noted, rather maturely, that some people need the money more than she does.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 704 other followers