Marian University: A Catholic Institution

by Jason LaPaglia | Sep 10, 2020
One of the main questions I receive from parents when their child considers where to attend college is, "How Catholic is Marian University?" This is a great question, and through conversations, I have learned that it usually is born from one of four situations: 
  1. The family is Catholic and wants to be reassured that their daughter or son's Catholic faith will be supported;
  2. The family practices Christianity in a different denomination and wants to know how Marian's tradition connects with but does not override their own;
  3. The family is Jewish, Muslim, or a different faith tradition and wants to know if their child's faith journey will be respected and supported; or
  4. The family claims no faith tradition and wants to understand how Marian's tradition will impact their son or daughter's education. 
As a parent of three- admittedly younger children, I can personally identify with wanting my kids to be supported and respected in school. So, I am happy to share how Marian approaches this question in general while also mindful of the four situations mentioned. 

In 2017, the Marian University Board of Trustees adopted a Mission and Identity Statement which outlines how we live out our Catholic Franciscan mission. It addresses the question at a high level. In that statement, we identify the five ways all students should experience our Catholic Franciscan tradition (1) transformational education, (2) unity in diversity, (3) leadership through service, (4) faith and life, and (5) institutional witness. I hope you take a moment to read the document (it is a brief two pages). When you do, you will understand that Marian is passionately Catholic. Because of that, we support students from all faith traditions. One saint named in the document helps enflesh what this means for your child, Mary, the mother of Jesus. 

On the seal of Marian University, one will find the Latin phrase, “Sedes Sapientiae," which means "Seat of Wisdom." In the Catholic Church, this is a title given to Mary. It refers to her holding Jesus in her lap –Jesus is Wisdom incarnate, and Mary is the seat. By putting this on our seal, the Sisters of Saint Francis, who founded our university, were trying to capture how we go about education. That is that we: want to be like Mary. While your daughter or son is at Marian University, we attempt to give them the same parental care Mary gave to Jesus. We want to teach them in a way that is life-changing for them (transformative education), help them promote peace and relationships in a diverse and divided society (unity in diversity), encourage them to use their knowledge for the good of others (leadership through service), discover their calling through prayer and reflection (faith and life), and do all of the above in the setting of a university that practices what it preaches (institutional witness).   

For Marian, this is what it means to be a great Catholic university in a great American city. WE share our Catholic Franciscan tradition in a way that enhances your son or daughter’s journey of education and faith at Marian University.  

Blessings,

Adam Setmeyer
Vice President of Mission and Ministry
Director of Campus Ministry

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