By FATHER PAUL A. BURKE, Special To The Bulletin | Published July 19, 2012
Holy Spirit College, on the campus of Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Atlanta, graduated its charter class on May 22. The degree of bachelor of philosophy was conferred on Alan Rauda and the degree of master of theological studies upon AnnMarie Jordan.
At the baccalaureate Mass, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory spoke about the purpose of Catholic higher education. He noted that in the contemporary world, university education is often seen as merely utilitarian, based on a flawed view of the human person whose value is calculated in terms of productivity. Citing Blessed John Henry Newman’s “Idea of a University,” published in 1873, he emphasized that a Catholic university is directed towards the formation of the whole person in the intellectual, moral and theological virtues.
The archbishop listed three goals of Catholic higher education, including success—the intrinsic good of knowledge for the sake of temporal prosperity, to provide for families and communities; and cultural leadership—the intrinsic good of knowledge for its own sake, to cultivate the mind toward truth, goodness and beauty for a healthy development of culture and society. Third, he said, faith is the intrinsic good of knowledge for the sake of evangelization and the challenge to be living witnesses of Christ’s truth and sacrificial love. Archbishop Gregory said his prayer for the graduates is that they may put their education at the service of the Church and society in being examples of faith and truth.
Both students spoke briefly. Alan Rauda said as a student at Southern Catholic College, his future was uncertain when the Dawsonville college closed in 2010. The school’s last graduation took place at Holy Spirit Church. Alan believed that it was divine providence that brought him back to Holy Spirit College to receive his degree. He expressed his gratitude to the faculty, staff and students and prayed that he would put his degree in philosophy to good use.
AnnMarie Jordan expressed her gratitude by saying, “You encouraged me to live my faith in every way, every day, to stay current with the developments in all religious matters. More importantly you armed me with the best weapons for this spiritual warfare.”
She went on to say that she was inspired by one of the stained glass windows in St. Mary’s Chapel: that of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the priest who died in Auschwitz. He is depicted as holding two crowns, one white, symbolizing purity, and the other red, representing the blood of martyrdom. St. Maximilian desired both crowns and received them, as he gave his life for another prisoner condemned to death. AnnMarie said that she would hang her diploma under a crucifix in her home “to remind me that I have been handed a cross. I pray that if I carry it with humility and obedience, perhaps I will some day be handed the crowns as well.”
Established in 2005 and inspired by “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic letter on Catholic higher education, Holy Spirit College began offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fall of 2010. Professors take the mandatum, a solemn promise to teach in accordance with the magisterium of the Catholic Church.
At the undergraduate level, concentrations are offered in theology and philosophy. The college seeks dedicated, curious learners willing to engage great ideas and texts from the richness of the Catholic intellectual tradition. Especially suited for students desiring an intimate learning experience or those wishing to attend classes while saving money, Holy Spirit College currently has 12 undergraduate students enrolled.
There are two graduate degrees offered in theology: the master of theological studies and the master of theology. The graduate program draws both students who are actively pursuing a graduate degree and adult learners who are not matriculated but looking to further their education in the Catholic intellectual tradition. Thirty-one students are enrolled in the graduate program. There are also non-degree evening mini-courses offered every semester. This past year several dozen students enrolled in beginning Mandarin or iconography.