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Friday, December 19, 2008

Great Catholic Colleges Part III - Franciscan University of Steubenville

One of the biggest changes in college life over the past few generations has been the abandonment of young people by adults. When I entered college in 1964, most schools, at least those that were Catholic, still took seriously their obligation to operate in loco parentis. Students signed out with a destination when they left campus. Curfews (similar to what students might have at home) were in effect. The rules weren't intrusive; they simply provided an opportunity to gradually make the transition to adult life without some of the dangers inherent in the first foray away from home. I especially appreciated that after watching my son's freshman roommate at the University of Virginia turning from a Catholic gentleman into a dissipated drunk over the course of the year. My husband and I made a decision early on when our first left home (also to attend UVA)to visit one Saturday or Sunday a month so our kids wouldn't forget where they came from. We went bowling in bad weather or took lawn darts and a picnic in good. The strategy helped our kids stay connected with their younger siblings and just have family fun. They looked forward to it, and often asked before we left when we were coming again.

Franciscan University takes seriously their responsibility to act for parents and they offer many opportunities for students to create a family-type atmosphere while they enjoy their new freedoms. The household program brings young people together in a group that has a spiritual focus. Each household has its own charism, but all are focused on growing in the faith. They allow students leaving home for the first time not to be alone, but to find deep friendships centered on Jesus Christ. The household program at Steubenville is just one element that makes the university truly unique among all the rest.

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