Category Archives: Catholic Higher Education

Father Theodore Hesburgh dies at 97

Fr Ted HesburghIt was announced that the famed Father Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., died at 11:30 p.m. Thursday (February 26, 2015) at Holy Cross House adjacent to the University of Notre Dame. Father Ted was 97.

We all know Father Ted as the president of the University of Notre Dame from 1952 to 1987. He was a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and known as a leader in Catholic higher education. Father has been awarded the most honorary doctorates in US history.

“We mourn today a great man and faithful priest who transformed the University of Notre Dame and touched the lives of many,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s current president. “With his leadership, charisma and vision, he turned a relatively small Catholic college known for football into one of the nation’s great institutions for higher learning.

“In his historic service to the nation, the Church and the world, he was a steadfast champion for human rights, the cause of peace and care for the poor.”

Several years ago I had the privilege to meet Father for a good hour of conversation. His eyesight was very poor but he was a great conversationalist. I am grateful for the time we spent talking to in the library named in his honor.

May God be merciful to Father Ted and may he rest in rest from his labors. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for your son.

First woman named Rector of a Roman School

Sr Mary MeloneSister Mary Melone, a  Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Angelina, born in 1964, is the next Rector of the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical University Antonianum. The venerable Antonianum is run by the Order of Friars Minor.

In recent history of this Roman pontifical university, Sister Melone is the first woman to be appointed a dean, and now the first woman to become a rector of a pontifical university in Rome. Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education appointed Melone to a term lasting from 2014-2017. She is an expert on St. Anthony of Padua, and other points in Franciscan theology.

May Saint Anthony of Padua intercede for Sister Mary Melone’s intentions.


When Sr. Melone was elected the dean of the Antonianum she gave an interview to L’Osservatore Romano where she said: 

The approach of a woman: “I don’t give much importance to these kinds of labels, female theology. Above all, I don’t like comparisons although I recognize that in the past there may have been a reason for making comparisons. Maybe there is one today as well, I don’t know. More space definitely needs to be given to women. The reference to female theology does not really fit with my vision of things: all that exists is theology. Theology as research, as a focus on mystery, as a reflection on this mystery. But precisely because this requires different sensitivities. A woman’s approach to mystery, the way in which she reflects on this mystery which offers itself and reveals itself, is certainly different from that of a man. But they do not contrast.  I believe in theology and I believe that theology created by a woman is typical of a woman. It is different but without the element of laying claim to it. Otherwise it almost seems as though I am manipulating theology, when it is instead a field that requires honesty from the person who places him/herself before the mystery.”

More on women:  “a reflection on this cannot be commensurate to the Church’s age as this reflects a development of thought that has gone on for hundreds of years. However, in my opinion a new space does exist and it is real. I also think it is irreversible, meaning that it is not a concession but a sign of the times from which there is no return. It is no pretense. I believe this depends a great deal on us women too. It is us who should get the ball rolling. Women cannot measure how much space they have in the Church in comparison to men: we have a space of our own, which is neither smaller nor greater than the space men occupy. It is our space. Thinking that we have to achieve what men have, will not get us anywhere. Of course, although the steps we take may be real, this does not mean the job is complete. A great deal more can be done but there is change, you can see it, feel it. I think that (my case aside) the election of a woman in a pontifical university is also proof this. The body who elected me was made up entirely of men!”

The Church does NOT need gender quotas?  “No, it doesn’t need quotas, it needs collaboration. And collaboration needs to grow!”

Pope to Notre Dame: give unambiguous testimony to the Christ

Earlier today Pope Francis spoke to a large delegation from the University of Notre Dame. I think my alma mater can follow what the Pope is aiming at… don’t you think? In reading this address I am thinking and hoping that the UND does not explain away what the Pope really means.

UND campusI am pleased to greet the Trustees of Notre Dame University on the occasion of your meeting in Rome, which coincides with the inauguration of the University’s Rome Center. I am confident that the new Center will contribute to the University’s mission by exposing students to the unique historical, cultural and spiritual riches of the Eternal City, and by opening their minds and hearts to the impressive continuity between the faith of Saints Peter and Paul, and the confessors and martyrs of every age, and the Catholic faith passed down to them in their families, schools and parishes. From its founding, Notre Dame University has made an outstanding contribution to the Church in your country through its commitment to the religious education of the young and to serious scholarship inspired by confidence in the harmony of faith and reason in the pursuit of truth and virtue. Conscious of the critical importance of this apostolate for the new evangelization, I express my gratitude for the commitment which Notre Dame University has shown over the years to supporting and strengthening Catholic elementary and secondary school education throughout the United States.

The vision which guided Father Edward Sorin and the first religious of the Congregation of Holy Cross in establishing the University of Notre Dame du Lac remains, in the changed circumstances of the twenty-first century, central to the University’s distinctive identity and its service to the Church and American society. In my Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, I stressed the missionary dimension of Christian discipleship, which needs to be evident in the lives of individuals and in the workings of each of the Church’s institutions. This commitment to “missionary discipleship” ought to be reflected in a special way in Catholic universities (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 132-134), which by their very nature are committed to demonstrating the harmony of faith and reason and the relevance of the Christian message for a full and authentically human life. Essential in this regard is the uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching, and the defense of her freedom, precisely in and through her institutions, to uphold that teaching as authoritatively proclaimed by the magisterium of her pastors. It is my hope that the University of Notre Dame will continue to offer unambiguous testimony to this aspect of its foundational Catholic identity, especially in the face of efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness. And this is important: its identity, as it was intended from the beginning. To defend it, to preserve it and to advance it!

Dear friends, I ask you to pray for me as I strive to carry out the ministry which I have received in service to the Gospel, and I assure you of my prayers for you and for all associated with the educational mission of Notre Dame University. Upon you and your families, and in a particular way, upon the students, faculty and staff of this beloved University, I invoke the Lord’s gifts of wisdom, joy and peace, and cordially impart my Blessing.

Fr Michael Scanlan to retire from Franciscan University

Fr Michael Scanlan.jpg

After 11 years as chancellor and 26 years as president, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, announced today that he’ll be retiring from Franciscan University. Scanlan is to move to the TOR motherhouse in Loretto, PA. The retirement is effective June 30, 2011.
More can be read here, included is a brief biography.
May Saint Francis of Assisi reward Father Michael abundantly for helping to rebuild the Church.

Non-discrimination admission policy for schools issued by Boston Archdiocese

The Archdiocese of Boston, under the direction of His Eminence, Seán Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap., issued a new educational policy for its schools which includes a non-discrimination policy and reiterates that Catholic teaching will be taught in the curricula. There’s an openness to the real life situations people face and live each day but there is no compromise in the passing on the Truth to others: care for the whole person and concern for the eternal destiny of souls.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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