Franciscan University of Steubenville not recommend; alumni aren’t happy.

Integralism, jansenism, americanism, capitalism – heresies on campus?

Why is it such an emotional subject for someone to refrain from recommending his alma mater to others?

I don’t often share that I attended Franciscan University of Steubenville – most people don’t even know it exists. For those who do know that it exists, I am usually quite blunt in offering a firm but simple ‘no’ when asked if I would recommend attending the school.

Today on Facebook I shared the following: Franciscan University of Steubenville is not a place I would recommend you attend for a wholesome, Catholic experience.

Quite the thread.

I don’t understand why people are quick to reject my simple witholding of a recommendation, ready to snap and get fiery, defensive, angry. Additionally, for many who are easy to anger when reading my short Facebook status updates, I don’t quite know why they continue to “follow” me.

Either way, few people know what kind of experience I had at Franciscan University of Steubenville, how long I was there, what I was involved in and tried to do, etc.

Additionally, few people seem to be able to distinguish holiness from the reception of sacraments; personal experience from the nature of an institution and culture; Catholicism from conservatism; Christianity from Christendom; etc.

There used to exist a student editorial called The Gadfly. I wrote more than a few pieces for it that I, for the most part, still stand by – both with my name and with pseudonyms. (I would use pseudonyms to express extreme opinions and then offer a piece in my own name to offer a middle path for students/readers.) People who knew me during those years would not be shocked to know I wouldn’t recommend the university. Maybe you can look up the pieces for greater understanding.

I started an organiziation called Students for a Fair Society, which aimed at embracing and promoting all of Catholic teaching – something that many students and I found lacking on campus. If you knew me then, you’d be in the loop.

I don’t often take time to explain myself on social media, because I don’t see social media as useful for explaining things like these, to an impersonal mass of individuals, who often seem to dismis or forget the substance behind one’s positions.

Concerning Franciscan, one shouldn’t think good is unable to come from being there – for school or otherwise -, or that one cannot learn there, or experience something spiritually beneficial, etc. God’s grace is not limited to institutional brokenness. This doesn’t mean Franciscan is the reason for good, either.

Sure, I met many good people there – and I meet many good people where you wouldn’t expect. Sure, I learned many things there – and elsewhere. (By the way, many of my philosophy professors were champions – and a handful of others from various departments.) But, this doesn’t change the fact that, in my experience, the University ‘not a place I would recommend you’ or anyone ‘attend for a wholesome, Catholic experience.’ This has to do with the problems we’ve experienced there concerning the heresies of americanism (see Leo XIII), capitalism, jansenism (see Saint John Eudes, especially, in his arguments against it), and integralism (I’d recommend H U von Balthasar).

Getting into this, I suppose you’d have to get an idea about what we’re talking about when we say americanism, capitalism, jansenism, and integralism, and have some examples. We’re also concerned by the republicanism, conservatism, classical liberalism, materialism, dualism, and modenism throughout campus – the campus advertised as academically challenging and passionately Catholic, or something like that.

It would be useful to know how things went with Students for a Fair Society, the student government, the reception of different opinions, etc.

We won’t get into that tonight, and I don’t know if we will. Perhaps reading the comments on the Facebook post thread will shine some light on this for us all.

If you’re looking for more commentary, or examples of individual experiences – I’d be happy to share.

We could discuss the treatment and compensation of faculty and staff while fulltime on campus undergrads pay $36k/year; of the faculty to administor compensation differences; of the diversity of opinion; of the openness to wisdom versus rigidity; of the attitude towards and treatment of gays and lesbians; of minorities and the poor; of different religions and denominations; of war and peace; of migrants and strangers; of alternatives to embracing the heresy of capitalism; of protecting the environment; of restorative justice; of condescenion and superiority; of nationalism; of celebrating death; of an almost wholehearted rejection of Catholic moral teaching that does not fit in with liberalism or the Republican Party, etc., etc.

As far as university recommendations are concerned, it may be worth remembering that a university and an education are two separate things. Further, Catholic life is not limited to attending a university. If you’re looking for an education, perhaps a university isn’t the place to go. If you’re looking for growth in your Catholic faith, perhaps a place, like Franciscan, that appears to try and sell you the seemingly exclusive opportunity to become a saint for thousands and thousands of dollars, in addition to fostering a culture of sorrowful partisanship, distrust, individualism, etc., may not be the place to go – what you’re looking for isn’t a place, but a Person – three of them.

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