Skip to comments.Higher education with a higher calling: Kevin O'Brien [ Franciscan University of Steubenville ]
Posted on 05/22/2011 6:25:49 AM PDT by Diago
Higher education with a higher calling: Kevin O'Brien Published: Thursday, May 19, 2011, 5:10 AM Updated: Thursday, May 19, 2011, 7:55 AM By Kevin OBrien, The Plain Dealer The Plain Dealer
Until last Saturday, I had successfully avoided quite a string of college graduation ceremonies.
Neither my wife nor I attended our own, because we went to a huge university where the proceedings consisted of a speech or two and a series of commands along the lines of, "OK, accounting majors, stand up. Congratulations. Sit down. Biology majors, stand up." And so on.
I went in and worked my shift at the paper that day, the university mailed my degree to me and everybody was satisfied.
The first three of my children to earn their degrees didn't bother with the ceremonial trappings, either. All graduated from big schools, and my impression was that all viewed the graduation formalities as something more to be dreaded than embraced.
I didn't object. Far from it. I applauded their good sense.
My wife, my first three children and I all left college with a similar feeling: Glad that's done.
No. 4, however, took a different approach -- a lifelong custom of hers, I hasten to add.
She was graduating from a small school that she loved unreservedly, and she was going to take every last step -- figurative and literal -- that she could with her classmates.
So my wife and I went. Of course we went. When your child considers something in her life a significant rite of passage, you go.
And we -- lifelong college commencement evaders though we were -- went with a sense of anticipation.
We had gotten to know the school and her friends a bit through her stories and through our visits, and we had been impressed. We strongly suspected that this school would put together a graduation well worth attending. We were not disappointed.
And as we stood to leave, I was finally able to put into words what made this institution so radically, refreshingly different from every other college or university I'd come in contact with, either personally or professionally -- and there have been many.
This was the first I'd seen whose primary mission is to affirm, reinforce and build upon the religious faith, moral clarity and strength of character that loving parents strive to instill in their children.
How wonderful it was, after all these years of matching parental wits against a society that seems intent on going off the rails, to finally find an academic ally.
When I think back to my own college years, what I remember is an almost relentless institutional effort to tear down any religious, moral and patriotic lessons students had been taught thus far. And I've heard similar stories from my children and their friends. The situation, if anything, has worsened.
What parent of sound mind doesn't worry at least a little, while pulling away from freshman move-in day at the dorm, that 18 years of parental love and guidance will prove insufficient immunization against an unremitting stream of bad advice and worse example not only from peers, but from "authority" figures?
Higher learning has always been about questioning. But there was a time when the goal of those doing the teaching was not to raise the questions and walk away, leaving the students to devise the best answers that untrained minds could devise. There was a time -- a time before my time, unfortunately -- when the broadly understood purpose of a university education was to impart to good, young minds the wisdom and knowledge of the best thinkers the world has produced.
At colleges with religious underpinnings, that mission was amplified by the effort to impart a sense of individual place and purpose in God's creation.
The questions had correct answers, and those answers were rooted in an appreciation of what is good and virtuous and beautiful and blessed.
I would suggest that there are precious few campuses in this nation where that description fits today.
But there are a few. The place where we attended Saturday's graduation, Franciscan University of Steubenville, is one of them.
You can feel the difference just by taking a walk through the campus. You can see it in the way students act toward one another. You certainly can see it in the way they dress. You can hear it when they talk about why they're there and what they hope to do once they move on. You can hear it when they talk about their professors and their mentors on the faculty.
"They love us," my daughter explained. But, first and foremost, they love God.
And therein lies the difference.
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Literally right down the road from me! I will be heading to Heavenly Grounds, the coffee shop on campus, for an iced coffee later today!
Thank-you for posting this article.
**”They love us,” my daughter explained. But, first and foremost, they love God.**
Would that all college students could say that about their professors and their college.
My oldest son went to a ‘regular’ university, with all the accompanying secular stuff. My younger son graduated from FUS and just finished up his first year of major seminary, and my daughter is beginning her junior year there as a nursing major. Night and day, the contrast.