With 80 percent of Catholic youth leaving their faith by age 23, the need for Catholic education during the college years has never been more pressing.
Dr. Ryan Hanning, assistant vice president for strategic partnerships at University of Mary – Tempe, said the school helps form students in the Catholic intellectual tradition and grow in knowledge of their faith and themselves. Located near Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, U-Mary–Tempe is a stone’s throw from the All Saints Catholic Newman Center.
Last month, the school welcomed 35 high school juniors and seniors to its first ever Summer Institute. The event focused on introducing teens to a Catholic vision of college. The students stayed in the ASU dormitories, prayed at the Newman Center and participated in academic lectures on authentic community, love and service.
“It was an amazing event,” Hanning said. “It’s amazing to see how students respond when you put them in an environment that forms them intellectually and spiritually.
“The University of Mary–Tempe’s partnership with ASU and the Newman Center joins the very best of a large robust research university, with the energetic faith life of an active Newman Center and the deep Catholic intellectual tradition of a small liberal arts university. Our students get the best of both worlds,” Hanning said.
Jo Markette, director of curriculum and academic programming, said students experience a deepening of their faith through strong academic content, the practical examples of Catholic life embraced and modeled by professors, and friendships formed with other students who also desire to follow the universal call to holiness.
“The benefit of our program is its intentionality of merging faith and reason,” Markette said. “Our students delve into the ‘reasons behind the rules’ of Catholicism — the beauty of our Catholic intellectual tradition — and our small class sizes facilitate the opportunity to discuss what they read, learn, and hear in order to own it for themselves.”
With courses in theology, Christian ethics, the Gospels and Catholic studies, there’s an array of courses that help build faith. At the same time, students can earn credits toward a degree at ASU.
“We welcome students of all ages and backgrounds,” Markette said. “Military veterans, parents, newlyweds, and retirees. While our target student population is the traditional college-aged student, non-traditional students add diversity and a valued voice to class discussions.”