Nearly one year ago, in an address to U.S. bishops who were making their seven-year “ad limina” visits to the Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI called on America’s colleges and universities to strengthen their Catholic identities. He urged Catholic institutions of higher learning in the United States to “reaffirm their distinctive identity in fidelity to their founding ideals and the Church’s mission.”
At Marian University in Indianapolis, we welcomed the Holy Father’s emphasis on the importance of Catholic identity. We believe that the founding ideals of our university, which are summarized in our statements of vision, mission and values, need to be constantly reaffirmed if we are to carry out our distinctive mission: to be a great Catholic university located in a great American city for service to the world.
In his remarks last year, Pope Benedict said that preservation of a university's Catholic identity "entails much more than the teaching of religion or the mere presence of a chaplaincy on campus." We wholeheartedly agree. Visit our campus, and it will become immediately obvious that we are not ashamed of our Catholic identity. On the contrary, we celebrate who we are, and we invite everyone who becomes part of our university community—regardless of their religious, ethnic, racial, social or economic backgrounds—to grow in their understanding and appreciation of what Catholic higher education contributes to the lives of individuals, society and the world.
We take our Catholic identity seriously because it defines who we are, and it compels us to be a transformative community that builds on a rich history of faith and learning. We have a broad-based initiative called Rebuild My Church that focuses all our energies as a Franciscan university on helping our students and all the people we serve to grow in their understanding of God’s call to be a holy people who can truly make a difference in our world.
Marian University's bold vision is "to provide an education that profoundly transforms lives, society and the world." The University's Franciscan values, informed by prayer, are:
- Dignity of the individual,
- Peace and justice,
- Reconciliation and
- Responsible stewardship.
Now Marian University joins Catholic colleges and universities in every region of the world in welcoming a new pope. As a Franciscan university, we are, of course, delighted that the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has chosen the name “Francis” and that news reports at the time of his election have focused on his commitment to the Lord’s commission to St. Francis of Assisi “rebuild my Church.”
Pope Francis is an intellectual, a teacher, dedicated to communicating Catholic belief and practice—especially in matters of faith and morals. He is also a humble man who is committed to serving the needs of the poor and oppressed. This is music to our ears at Marian University. We are committed to excellence in teaching and learning. We work hard to make an excellent Catholic, Franciscan and liberal arts education available to everyone—regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, economic or social status. We also believe strongly in the teaching, healing and pastoral ministry of our Church, and we’re doing everything we can to prepare servant leaders who will dedicate themselves to transforming lives, society and the world.
Here at Marian University, we welcome our new Holy Father, and we pledge our wholehearted support, and our prayers, as he begins his new ministry on behalf of the Church and the world. We proudly share the pope’s devotion to St. Francis and to the mission given to all who share our Franciscans values to “rebuild my Church!”
Marian University aspires to be a great Catholic university located in a great American city for service to the world. May our service always be in solidarity with Pope Francis and the Church he has been called to lead. The Marian University community is praying for our new pope, and our new archbishop, to rebuild Christ’s Church here in central Indiana and throughout the world. May our patron saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary and Francis and Clare of Assisi, sustain Pope Francis by their prayers, and may all of us grow in holiness under our new pope’s pastoral care!