A study of student faiths at DePaul, deemed the largest Catholic University in the nation, has concluded that Catholic students are not the majority at the school.
Statistics gathered by the Institutional Research and Market Analytics strategy group illustrate that while 33 percent of students at DePaul declare their Catholic faith, nearly 45 percent of the student body do not identify themselves as being part of any sort of faith-based religion.
Although “First Things Magazine,” a publication through The Institute on Religion and Public Life, ranked DePaul the “Least Catholic Catholic School” in past years, it is undeniably the largest Catholic university by enrollment with 25,398 total students, 8,314 of which identify as Catholic.
St. John’s University follows closely behind with 21,354 students, and as of 2010, reports a higher percentage of Catholic students with 46 percent of its students identifying as Catholic, compared to the 33 percent at DePaul.
Senior finance major, Adam Belkalrous, identifies as Agnostic and despite his Catholic upbringing said, “I go to church when my parents force me.”
Senior mathematics and economics double major, Michael VanDorpe, who serves on the Pastoral Council, is a liturgist assistant and facilitates student mass, said although DePaul may not have the highest number of Catholic students; its identity is illustrated through its Vincentian values, “values of service and to the poor.”
VanDorpe also admitted that the founding values at DePaul, based on the practices of Saint Vincent de Paul, are found in many faiths and are often “universal values to humanity.”
“While we are a Catholic University, we are not the Catholic Church,” he said while describing DePaul as supporting diversity in a way not always accepted by the Catholic Church such as issues within the LBGTcommunity.
VanDorpe said this inclusion is one way that the university is projecting its Vincentian values which includes “respecting who people are…and how they are born is important…” He described DePaul as keeping up with its Catholic tradition in many ways, such as offering religious services at the school.
“People don’t necessarily always see it, but it’s always there,” he said.