Branching out through Christus Magister
by Kathleen van Schaijik
Several times over the years friends of the Concourse have suggested that we expand publication beyond Franciscan University. “Why limit such a great forum?” they’ll say, “there are so many people out there who would love to be able to participate in discussions like these.”
But up until now I’ve resisted. It seemed to me that a prime factor in the value of the Concourse lay in its concreteness—in its being created by and for people who share the FUS experience. That common ground of faith, love of Truth, desire for holiness, commitment to evangelization, and so on, makes for a particularly interesting and effective kind of intellectual conversation. Consider, for example, how, if we want to discuss the practical implications of Ex Corde Ecclesiae at FUS, we don’t have to first spill gallons of ink on acres of paper establishing the (to us obvious) principle that submission to Catholic doctrine and Church authority does not stultify the life of the mind. We are free to turn our attention to what the document says, to examine ourselves in its light, and to consider how it challenges us to grow in specific ways.
Further, when we discourse in the Concourse, we do so as among friends, even if we do not always know each other’s names and faces. This makes for a degree of courtesy and deference in our debates rare to find in wider-open forums. We take care what we say when we are conversing with friends—especially if we are disagreeing about something important. We also listen more attentively, and open ourselves more conscientiously to other points of view. In other words, the relative smallness and familiarity of our readership makes our discussions peculiarly efficient, not only in terms of content, but in terms of their effect on readers.
Hating to risk losing that powerful concreteness, then, I have so far declined to expand publication. But now I think we have found a natural way to grow without sacrificing it.
A couple of years ago saw the formation of the Christus Magister Foundation, chaired by (former FUS VP, my Dad) Nicholas Healy. The purpose of CM is to support new initiatives in Catholic higher education by guaranteeing that the credits they offer will be recognized by FUS and other orthodox Catholic colleges. In other words, it cuts through miles of bureaucratic red tape, allowing new schools to get rapidly established. In this way, Franciscan University has lately become associated with a number of brand new Catholic institutions (in Ireland, Vancouver BC, Texas, and Michigan so far, with Arizona, Atlanta, Sacramento and Philadelphia in the works.) And it is much more than a mere “on paper” association. Several of these schools are recruiting and employing FUS alumni. More importantly, they share the University’s vision for a new Springtime of Catholic higher education—her Christo-centrism, her willing submission to the Magisterium, her joyful endorsement of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and her ardent commitment to the re-evangelization of culture and the Catholic life of the mind.
My husband Jules (class of ‘89) now teaches philosophy at one of these new colleges: Ave Maria in Ypsilanti, Michigan (founded by FUS benefactor and former trustee, Tom Monaghan.) We began distributing the Concourse here with the last issue.
We will also be distributing at another new college, Our Lady of Corpus Christi in Texas. Dr. Ronda Chervin, who used to teach at FUS, teaches there now.
Our hope is that the Concourse will gradually make its way to all Christus Magister colleges and institutes, serving as a concrete and lively means of intellectual exchange and mutual influence between like-minded Catholic university men and women all over the world.
Meanwhile: to students, faculty and staff of Ave Maria and Our Lady of Corpus Christi colleges, welcome aboard! We hope you will not only enjoy our discussions, but contribute your ideas and insights to them too.
Kathleen van Schaijik