Follow usTwitterFacebook


08 Dec 2015 Articles No comments

The Origin of Advent Wreath

The Advent wreath is part of our long-standing Catholic tradition. Also, families, especially those with young children, can incorporate the Advent wreath light…

Read more

30 Jul 2016 News No comments

Pope: ‘In welcoming the outcast, our credibility as Christians is at stake’

Holy Father urges youth to follow Jesus's Way of the Cross through works of mercy By embracing the hunger, thirst and loneliness of others, young people can to…

Read more

22 Jul 2016 Articles Comments (2)

Receiving the Sacraments After Divorce and Remarriage

I recently got a call at Catholic Answers from a woman who had fallen away from the Church many years ago but had come back home after watching EWTN and listeni…

Read more

07 Jul 2016 Articles Comments (2)

Are There Cults in the Catholic Church?

A friend of mine is a school principal, a job that often requires the skills of a seasoned diplomat. He must balance the desires of students, parents, teach…

Read more

28 Jan 2016 Articles Comments (1)

Gnosticism Is All Around Us

I once gave a lecture in a Northwestern diocese—up in the morning, back to San Diego in the afternoon, the entire trip taking only ten hours—and came away…

Read more

20 Sep 2016 Articles Comments (2)

7 powerful morning prayers you need to get your day started with God

Rise and shine - the great morning awaits all of God's children. This may be a well-known fact ... not everyone is a morning person. Some people really strug…

Read more

06 Nov 2016 News No comments

Authorities on high alert - Al-Qaeda plans attacks to thwart U.S. elections

U.S. authorities believe terror group al-Qaeda is plotting attacks in three states on election day. According to CBS News, unnamed sources revealed al-Qaeda …

Read more

24 Dec 2015 Europe News Vatican No comments

Pope Francis named "Charlemagne Prize Winner"

Pope Francis has been selected as the Charlemagne Annual award winner for 2016 for bringing “a message of hope and encouragement” to Europe in a time of uncerta…

Read more

05 Sep 2015 News USA No comments

Holy See expresses cautious support for UN development goals

The Holy See on Tuesday expressed its “strong support” for the 2030 United Nations development agenda, but added it has “firm reservations” about some items in …

Read more
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

What’s the point of education? Bishop Conley has some ideas

  • Written by:
  • 1 Reply

Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb. vividly remembers his father asking him what on earth he planned to do with his English degree.

“Open up an English shop?” Bishop Conley said with a laugh.

Most English majors can probably relate.

But even today – decades after his undergraduate studies – Bishop Conley stands by his belief that a liberal arts curriculum is the foundation of a well-founded education and the true calling of the education system.

“We live in an age that is so pragmatic, so utilitarian,” he said. “People go to university primarily to learn a skill in order to build a career and because of that hyper-emphasis on career paths, I think students lose out on really what universities have always been. And that is really the liberal arts.”

“For students to really have a well-rounded education, to be truly educated in the best sense of the world, they need to be familiar with these great works (of Western Civilization).”
A liberal arts education is precisely what Bishop Conley hopes to provide students at the University of Nebraska through his latest initiative in the Diocese of Lincoln: The Newman Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture.

Starting next fall, the institute will offer fully accredited academic courses on Catholic intellectual tradition and the humanities – particularly literature, history and philosophy – through a joint initiative with the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center at the University of Nebraska Lincoln and St. Gregory the Great Seminary in neighboring Seward, Neb. The courses are designed for students of any major and faith background.

Bishop Conley inaugurated the institute Wednesday with a discussion on wonder and a reading of poetry. However, he was quick to stress that a liberal arts education “is not just a dreamy kind of poetic education.”

“We want this program to be an experience of delight and wonder; something that (students) will long to go and be immersed in,” he said. But “there is a practical aspect to this as well.”

“The broader your education is and the wider read you are in literature and poetry and music … the more marketable your talent is going to be. It’s almost paradoxical! These classic works present to the students what centuries of students have benefited from.”

The institute is named for Blessed John Henry Newman, who founded the Catholic University of Ireland in the 19th century. Bishop Conley described Newman as a champion for the liberal arts in education.

“Newman wanted students to experience the great richness of Western Civilization,” Bishop Conley said. “A liberal education means someone who is liberated by the fullness of the truth.”

Bishop Conley experienced this liberation firsthand as an undergraduate involved in the short-lived Pearson Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas.
“The (program) was the impetus for my conversion to the Catholic faith,” he said. “I used to tell people that I read my way into the Catholic Church. That was true to a certain extent, but when I look back at it, it was more than that. It was the whole experience: relationships, friendships and the community I was a part of. It really had a tremendous impact on my life.”

Students involved in the Integrated Humanities Program not only explored classic literature but also star-gazed, travelled the world, memorized and recited poetry together and even learned how to waltz. Bishop Conley said students can expect similar things from the Newman Institute.

“This is not just an academic program,” he said. “We’re going to offer opportunities that will engage the whole person.”

The Newman Institute’s thoroughly Catholic underpinning will set it apart from the Integrated Humanities program and even the humanities program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where the Institute is based.

“We want to teach these courses in the full vision of philosophy, history, art, architecture, music,” he said. “And theology is woven in all of these.”

The Institute will host three additional public lectures this fall with speakers including First Things magazine editor Dr. R.R. Reno and a literature professor from Wyoming Catholic College.

By Kate Veik and Mary Rezac


1 comment

  1. Franklin P. Uroda Reply

    Taking a liberal arts course, then throw in philosophy, theology, scripture, perhaps Latin/Greek is a great idea, but possible only for candidates to the priesthood or the monied class. For ordinary people, I hear that the costs even at schools where the $$$ is down (is it low at U of Nebraska?), it would take years to pay off the debt. Getting married and having children, for some, would be out of the question until they get into their 40s. By the time the children are college age, parents would be hovering around retirement age.

Leave a Reply

  1. most read post
  2. Most Commented
  3. Choose Categories