08 October 2011

Day Two-- the Recap

How many times can you walk the same stretch of concrete before you can do it blindfolded?

That question became relevant during our tours of the University of Dallas and the College of St. Thomas More, though for different reasons.  

Through a quirk of scheduling, the official "tour" of the University of Dallas campus took place at the end of the day's visit on Friday.  So, before then, our eldest had a scholarship interview.  Then we attempted to sit in on a couple of classes.  But, because it was "Charity Week" (First point in Dallas' favor:  "Not Social Justice Week"), the students could donate money to "arrest" their professors and thus cancel class for the day.  These being teenagers, of course they did so.  We also had lunch with one of the student ambassador-types, who was VERY ENTHUSIASTIC.  As a result, we traced the path from the admissions office to one nearby building quite often before getting the actual tour.

For Catholics, University of Dallas has a lot going for it.  It is academically challenging.  The core curriculum for the first two years requires taking the humanities/liberal arts slate by reading the great books themselves, and not a plethora of textbooks.  And nearly every student goes to Rome for a whole semester in the sophomore year.  

Dallas definitely sells themselves as a Catholic school, and there is some reason for that.  Masses are available several times a day.  There is perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, and I saw several students there when I popped in.  The promotion of the classics of Western literature, art, philosophy and theology is a very Catholic thing.  I would note that I don't think they can be called traditionally Catholic in the praxis, and thus somewhat in the theology, of the faith as I try to promote on this blog.  This is certainly not news, as that covers about 98% of Catholics.  And I think that a traditional Catholic wouldn't be brow-beaten out of their piety.  But there are two little digs that I can't resist (sorry, MarieZ!):  

1. In the admissions packet, I saw a flyer wherein the University was proclaimed as "Best Catholic College in America" by George Weigel; and 2. The chapel is soul-killingly ugly.

All in all, though, I think it is a plus school.

Later that afternoon, we also visited the campus of the College of St. Thomas More in Fort Worth.  Here again we traversed the same patch of concrete often, but this is because the campus is very small.  The college, though founded in 1981, has changed direction for the better (both academically and in terms of the faith) in the last year by a change of leadership.  The new President and Academic Dean are committed to an authentically Catholic college in the liberal arts tradition, with a community of students and faculty whose core communal expression is the liturgy of the Church.  Students here experience Terce every morning, Mass in the Extraordinary Form every day, and like Dallas will canvass the great books of the West.  The faculty is, to my certain knowledge, brilliant and faithfully Catholic.  And they have an excellent chaplain.  As a parent, I could be certain that my daughter or son would get an authentically Catholic formation that I would not have to remediate at home.

For the sake of full disclosure, I will say that among the leadership of this college are good friends.  Our family was invited to a dinner with the college President and Dean, and several faculty and students.  Hey, we didn't get that at UD.

At this stage of the college's development, the student-body is numerically small.  And they are scouting for a larger campus.  So, in a sense, I think that those students and their families who sign on to this exciting project will be pioneers for the faith--their own and for those who will follow.  There will be some hardship and sacrifice for the very real benefits one will gain, but hey-- that's the promise of Catholicism, too.  It may not be for everyone, but I am excited for the future of this college.


Patrick Kinsale said...

Several years ago, my daughter and I visited Dallas. Great classes and people but I was turned off by the chapel and when the priest at Mass, on the feast of Christ the King, argued against looking at Our Lord that way because he (the priest, not Our lord) did not like the idea of royalty.

Methodist Jim said...

Aren't both of these fine schools seeking to replace Texas A & M in the Big 12?

Curnudgeon KC said...

The choice is clear...be a pioneer. The College Of St Thos More is indeed small and in flux, but wow...what an opportunity with a great faculty in a darn-toot'n Traddie Catholic college that's fully accredited. Dallas's prez has announced he wants the college to be less Catholic and more academic. The CSTM prez has a vision to make his college more Catholic and more academic. Nuff said. In the interest of disclosure I'm friends with the President of CSTM, too, but that makes me all the more comfortable in encouraging anyone to send their tradlings there. They will be among the founding classes of something remarkable.

Dad29 said...

It's a short walk from the U of D campus to the Cistercian monestary across the highway (complete with tunnel for ease-of-crossing).

That's a REAL church (albeit typical Cistercian--not very decorated.)

Prekast said...

Sounds to me like you've already made the decision....

thetimman said...

No, haven't made the decision, prekast. For one thing, I'm not going to college, so my eldest will have plenty to say. Also, there is lots of time for prayer and discernment before the decision must be made. And there are two other schools under consideration. So, it will take a little time.

M.L.P. said...

You're completely right. The chapel isn't attractive. That said, students fill it often for a group rosary at 7 pm many nights and matins (sung in Latin!) morning&night - the students are what make UD so fantastic. Dad29 is correct, too. Cistercian is really pretty to pray in if the UD chapel is a more distracting environment than pietistic.

The whole "Best Catholic College in America" thing is relative. As a biology major, UD is by far the best Catholic Uni for me. If I was interested in law, I'd be at TAC. If I wanted to sing praises with my guitar, I'd be at Stubenville. If staying close to home was most important, I'd be at SLU.

I'm sure if UD had around 10 or so incoming freshmen like Thomas More the college President and Dean would be able to meet with everyone, too. Not to mention if relatives went to DeSales....

To get a little PC, I know everyone has a different disposition and different schools are better suited to different people.

But, still had to add my two cents! :)