Keep Christ at Mount Mary
The title of our fair college holds the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As students, professors, faculty and visitors enter the driveway off Menomonee River Parkway, they are greeted by a beautiful fountain overlooked by the Virgin. But upon entering the building, most visual signs of Mount Mary College’s Catholic identity are nowhere to be seen.
For example, the sitting area at the front of Notre Dame Hall includes a statue of Jesus, invisible to visitors walking through the front doors at the top of the stairs unless they turn around. Some newly renovated classrooms also seem to have lost their crucifixes.
Beyond just the visual signs, the practice of Catholicism seems to be fading as well. Mount Mary offers mass Monday through Friday, as well as Sunday evenings. However, according to Lea Rosenberg, director of Campus Ministry, the 15 or so people that typically attend mass include the sisters, a few professors and members of the community. There may be a few students at the Sunday evening mass.
Campus ministry also hosts a weekly Bible study with only two consistent attendees, which is surprising at a Catholic college that boasts a Catholic education. Only one theology course beyond Search for Meaning is required, and it does not have to be Catholic-centered.
In recent years, Mount Mary College has been focused on promoting social justice, but without enough emphasis on our Catholic faith. There is a required class devoted entirely to social justice leadership, but none to Catholicism — only a broad-based theology component to Search for Meaning. Social justice is even included in Mount Mary’s vision: “The College encourages leadership, integrity, and a deep sense of social justice arising from a sensitivity to moral values and Christian principles.” While Mount Mary is identified as a Catholic college in the mission, no further mentioned of the faith nor its presence at the college is made in the statement.
Social justice is obviously an important value for the college that we want to retain. However, a belief in social justice and serving the community has deep roots in Christ’s work and Christianity.
Mount Mary faculty members need to bring the Catholic faith back into the classroom and apply it to the lessons they teach every day. For example, when Obama’s new health care plan is discussed, there could at least be a mention of its effects on Catholic institutions and the separation of Church and state. Or in Leadership for Social Justice, the professor and students could examine why the Church strongly encourages service and social justice.
As the physical presence of the School Sisters of Notre Dame diminishes and Mount Mary transitions into a university, we worry we may lose our Catholic identity. This does not mean Mount Mary should force its beliefs on students. Obviously not every student who attends Mount Mary is Catholic; but students make a conscious decision to attend a Catholic college and should respect the presence of Christian values and the Catholic faith on campus.
This Christmas, let’s put Christ back in Mount Mary.