To go from home environment to hostile environment skips a developmental step. The first stage in growing in the faith is to practice it under someone's tutelage (one's parents) in a friendly environment. The last step is to practice it on one's own (though not without friends) in a hostile environment. But in between is the step of practicing it on one's own in a friendly environment -- which is what a Catholic college is supposed to realize.
The final misguided presupposition is that a tenable goal for any Christian is not losing one's faith. Actually, if at any point in your life your goal is merely not to lose your faith, you most likely will lose it. Those who are not progressing, are regressing. Christ says "seek first the Kingdom of God."
Obviously the goal of college education for a Catholic is to grow in the faith, to become, by the end of those four years, a mature Catholic man or woman. One can describe the same reality in a variety of ways. The Church needs "well educated laity," as Newman said, who have a broad and well-grounded grasp of their faith. The New Evangelization requires professionals whose education in Catholic philosophy and theology is commensurate to their technical education.
The Catholic Moment came and went because there were no Catholic citizens to be found.
Also, the primary task of a Catholic layperson today is to live the vocation of marriage well. But the same institutions which undermine the faith also turn out students who do not understand marriage, and are hobbled for living it.
The odd person who converts at a hostile secular campus (such as myself) or finds it invigorating to be defending the faith against attacks does nothing to disprove my claims. All sound advice must be based on what is true for the most part, not exceptional cases.
So my final advice is to put aside that misguided advice and begin to think clearly about these most important matters.
Michael Pakaluk is professor of philosophy and chairman of the department at Ave Maria University.
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