Benedictine Students Response to Catholicism on Campus and Abbot’s Statement

Benedictine and Abbey logo

Kaitlyn Estopare

News Editor

Benedictine and Abbey logoAbbot Austin, Chancellor of Benedictine University and Benet Academy released a statement last week pertaining to the recent hire of a gay coach at Benet.

In the statement, Abbot Austin stated that he is still deeply troubled by the school’s decision because it calls into question its adherence to the doctrines of the Catholic faith.

The University is stating that they are considered two separate institutions from Benet Academy. The University also values its hallmark of being a welcoming, open, and inclusive community.

But what does this mean for the University students when it comes to obeying Catholic rules and values?

Mixed feelings and thoughts came from Benedictine Students as they learned about the incident and what the Abbot had to say:

  • “We are a diverse school and over time I believe we adapted more with the world’s changes and the church has not,” Freshman Addie Mcconnaughhay said.
  • “The founding beliefs, course ideas, and physical symbols throughout campus represent Catholicism, but I feel the student body and the ideas that are actually represented do not represent that catholic religion. I am Lutheran and the lack of Catholicism on campus doesn’t truly affect my beliefs and religion,” said Sophomore Nate Klimisch.
  • “I think Catholicism is present on our campus but has diminished in my four years being here. The university has trended away from some of its Catholic roots as it tries to figure out its identity in the modern world. I am Catholic and believe that many principles this school holds are in line with the values of Catholicism but prefers to distance itself from “Catholic” with intention to be “inclusive”. I do believe both are possible and is the best way to move forward. Catholicism should be open to all, not the few, so finding ways to share the word of God for all does not need to eliminate people from participating in this university. I would like to see more effort in rebuilding the Catholic tradition with modern social movements, not deciding that it is one or the other. It would help my faith and the faith of all members of our community if we understood how both should exist in a Catholic institution,” said Senior Robbie Dudzinski. 
  • “The university does a good job of including things like prayer rooms and clubs for all different types of faiths. Although this is a Catholic University, being Muslim on campus has not affected me in a negative way. Personally, I think times are changing and the University and Benet are trying to be more inclusive, and the Abbey needs to catch up with the times. Now people should be looking more at what someone has to offer rather than their personal lifestyle,” said Senior Ahmed Arain.
  • “When I look around campus, I see all sorts of different religions so I don’t think that Catholicism presence on campus really affects that much simply because school is so diverse,” Senior Braxton White said.
  • “Catholicism is presented okay on campus. I’ve seen things with campus ministry, but I feel like the majority of the Benedictine population is very diverse when it comes to different religions. I feel like everyone should be able to practice whatever religion they want to, it’s a free choice you know, free religion is one of our rights and I am spiritual than anything,” said Senior Mercedes Wynter.
  • “Catholicism on campus is pretty prevalent, in a lot of my classes, in previous years, we have started with a little verse or reading from the Rule of St. Benedict before a class or something that is somehow related to Catholicism,” Junior Alyssa Mojica said.
  • “I grew up Catholic and still am today. I choose to go to Benedictine partially because it was a Catholic school. Since I’ve been here, I’ve met people from many different backgrounds and from many different religions. I’ve found there is a large Catholic community here, but there are also large communities of different religions. There are no “Catholic” classes that are required to take. The closest thing we have are IDS classes which have a connection to the Rule of St. Benedict. I find Benedictine values, while not directly catholic, are very heavily valued and respected here. The University does not have a big impact on my religious values or beliefs, but I do like that the university has the values that they stand by,” Senior Caroline O’Connor said.
  • “The presence of Catholicism is a fragment of this campus only represented by the Church, prayer emails, and the occasional monk sighting. Personally, I do not feel affected by the presence of Catholicism on campus however, many students on this campus may feel imposed upon by this due to their sexual beliefs. Being the Christian that I am, I believe that the Catholic presence at the school needs to make some adjustments to the times. Accepting is not the same as agreeing,” said Senior Josh Harris.