Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted addresses a crowd gathered Sept. 20 at Benedictine University’s new Mesa Services Center. (J.D. Long-Garcia/CATHOLIC SUN)

MESA — Benedictine University, a Catholic institution based in Illinois, will begin offering classes next fall in the the East Valley.

“We believe a Catholic university is born from the heart of the Church,” said Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, referring to Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic constitution on Catholic universities.

“Universities aren’t like an app you can add, it’s from the very heart of the Church,” the bishop said during a Sept. 20 ceremony which marked the opening of the university’s services center. “God gives all of us the gifts to pursue the truth — through reason and faith. Any love that is genuine is one that is true.”

The bishop also thanked the City of Mesa and Mayor Scott Smith for inviting Benedictine University to open a campus “in the heart of the city.” The services center is located at 51 E. Main St., Suite 105.

“This historic initiative with Benedictine University holds great promise for expanding in Arizona opportunities for higher Catholic education and for collaborating with all people of good will,” he said, “especially young people in Mesa and throughout our state.”

Benedictine University at Mesa will offer classes beginning fall 2013 at 225 E. Main St. The university will offer degrees in fine arts, criminal justice, communication arts, psychology, theology, nutrition, management and organization behavior in addition to a minor in religious studies.

University President William J. Carroll, Ph.D., also applauded the city for inviting religious universities to “the heart of the city.”

“It’s a symbol of what we wish to be,” he said, “a light to the world.”

He said scholarships would be available for Catholic high school graduates, practicing Catholics registered at their parish and children of Mesa residents.

“Since its founding, Mesa has attracted people of all faiths that believe the spiritual side is important,” Mayor Smith said, noting other colleges — like Westminster College — who plan on offering classes there. “When you see what these universities have to done to life their communities, it’s amazing.”

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