Since Pope Benedict XVI released Summorum Pontificum in 2007, the Traditional Latin Mass has experienced steady growth, including in more recent years (see data here). One need only read many of the accounts offered of these Masses around the blogosphere to see that a great many attendees of these Masses are young, and with large families. Many of these families homeschool their children (see here). The question naturally arises: to where shall these families send their children for college? Of the 93% of young Catholic adults who no longer attend Mass regularly – yes, that is 93% – most of them lose this habit in college (see data here). Our colleges have been the vanguard of post-conciliar teaching: abandoning Aquinas, the Church Fathers, traditional interpretation of Scripture, and perennial teaching on faith and morals. Even orthodox colleges still view the world and operate through a post-conciliar lens. They are in the predicament of trying to embrace a modernist view of the Church while simultaneously trying to reject its teachings.
This is why we opened the doors of The Collegium this fall (August 2021)!
There are many ways to describe The Collegium. First, we are faithful, affordable, and classical. We are faithful to the unchanging teachings of the Church. Indeed, our board members, faculty members, students and parents sign the Oath Against Modernism. Our curriculum is built upon the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Church Fathers, and the works of great artists, poets, historians, musicians, and composers in the Church. We are one of the most affordably priced colleges in the country. We are classical, in our curriculum and in our liturgical life. Since growth in the intellectual life is meant to be correlative to a growth in one’s spiritual life, the spiritual life of The Collegium is intimately intertwined with the classical nature of our liberal arts curriculum: we sing Lauds and Vespers, the Angelus, and we pray the Rosary daily; thus, we most naturally find our home in the ancient rites of the Church, as the preeminent expression of the Catholic faith, toward which our entire curriculum is directed.
There are many features of The Collegium that I could mention, but the most important aspect of The Collegium – and this is what distinguishes us from every other four-year college – is that we embrace tradition. We don’t accommodate tradition.
Why do we do this? Clinging to the traditional teachings and practices of the faith are the best way to attain heaven. In that same group of young Catholic adults I mentioned earlier, if you filter the group for traditional Catholics, the regular Mass attendance is not 7%. It is 98%!! (see data here). Our liberal arts curriculum is grounded in a tried-and-true method of educating used by the Church for over a millennium; our students are formed in the rites of the Church which also formed the greatest Saints and produced one of the most magnificent cultures the world has ever seen.
We tell parents and prospective students that our primary goal is to help our students transition from lives at home to independent lives with their faith intact, and with an education and formation that will help them live virtuous lives and get to heaven. That is primary. All of our classes, our prayer, and our communal activities are ordered to that end. We also believe that we give them a set of tools that will help them be successful in earthly endeavors, but that is secondary – important, but secondary. A formation in the liberal arts and sciences are one of the best ways to prepare students for a lifetime of learning and work to provide for the material needs of their families. The data tells us that the best way we can achieve our primary goal, and serve our secondary goal, is to embrace tradition. So we do.
Several years ago, Pope Benedict XVI opined that he thought the future Church would be much smaller. He was certainly correct. We are a small institution, and we expect to remain small, with a maximum enrollment of 100-120 students, primarily because we do not want to feel pressured to change our mission, in order to enroll more students. We are here for the families who are looking to ensure that they have an authentically Catholic college for their children.
All are welcome to explore The Collegium at www.the-collegium.org.
This article was cowritten by Phillip Berns. Berns is the Dean of Academics and Professor of Philosophy at the Collegium Sanctorum Angelorum. He is from New Orleans, LA; and is currently writing his dissertation for a PhD in Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas-Houston.
Edward Schaefer is president of The Collegium, a position to which he brings 40 years of experience in higher education. His academic formation was in music; he has an expertise in Carolingian chant.