Lumen Summer 2023

a major, and we did not expect large numbers to show interest. The results quickly outpaced our expectations. What started

Studies has amplified the Catholic intellectual and spiritual life of St. Thomas specifically and Catholic higher education more broadly.

rather than a specific formula. To rightly understand this initiative, it would not be too much to say this movement in Catholic higher education demands not only an understanding of its various forms and expressions, but also and more importantly, a grasp of the underlying principles that inform its work within university education. While there are different ways to describe these principles, I find the distinction made by St. John Henry Newman, the great 19th century educationalist, between the university and collegiate principles, the most comprehensive. AN EDUCATION IN SEEING THINGS WHOLE The university principle expresses the essence of education. It concerns the acquisition of knowledge in the classroom, the lab, and the library where the mind is cultivated and sharpened, disciplined and made more precise, active, and penetrating. At the heart of the university principle is the

“ Catholic Studies has gone forward

under a set of guiding principles rather than a specific formula.”

as a trickle of students grew to a steady stream to become one of the largest humanities majors on campus. Catholic Studies at St. Thomas is the first, the largest, and the most defining program of its kind in the world. More than 1,600 alumni bring the Gospel to their corners of the world: 160 are priests, 65 are religious, and hundreds more are spouses, parents, teachers, business leaders, engineers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, and entrepreneurs.

With more than 60 Catholic Studies programs across the country today, Catholic Studies at St. Thomas is viewed as the “gold standard” in innovation and vitality. Our humble beginnings nurtured undergraduate and graduate degrees, highly regarded institutes, an academic journal, outreach to the Latino community, a leadership intern program, educational internships and fellowships, and other activities

The Heart of Catholic Studies

When Catholic Studies began 30 years ago, it did not start with a blueprint, strategic plan, or well- developed curriculum. Rather, it was formed within a community of faculty whose commitment and desire to strengthen and renew Catholic higher education was guided by the virtue of faith in relation to key intellectual convictions in Catholic education. This faith is rooted in the extraordinary claim that the “Word became Flesh,” and that the

Incarnation impacted everything in education — humanities, arts, sciences, social sciences, the professions — and the overall life of the university. Inspired and led by Dr. Don Briel and supported by a small network of faculty from a variety of disciplines, the plans for Catholic Studies were modest. In fact, it was simply an interdisciplinary program with no formal home on campus. We assumed that most students would pursue a minor rather than

and programs that display a distinctly Catholic character.​


Catholic Studies has gone forward under a set of guiding principles

With a regional, national, and international impact, Catholic

1990  John Paul II issues Ex corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church), an apostolic constitution



 The Interdisciplinary Program in Catholic Studies is approved by the University of St. Thomas Senate. Professor of Theology and program visionary, Don Briel,

regarding Catholic colleges and universities. Its aim is to define and refine the Catholicism of Catholic institutions of higher education.

is named head of the program. By second semester, more than 60 students are enrolled in Catholic Studies courses.

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St. Thomas Lumen Summer 2023 Page 7

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