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Forming Vocations through Experience
To be certain of anything, it must be tested. This is especially true in discerning vocation. At Holy Cross College, the experience matters and it is through this experience that one can determine what they are called to do. From seeing the recent documentary BRO: Men with Hope to Bring, to seeing the Brothers in everyday life around campus, students are becoming more aware of the call to religious life.
Many young men desire to explore that call while working on their undergrad studies. The St. Joseph Residence Program is offering that opportunity for those aspiring to discern their vocation to religious life. This formation program is comparable to Old College at the University of Notre Dame. However, the characterizing difference is that the St. Joseph Residence Program is an act of residence and formation; those participating in it are also involved with the campus life. This is obviously true based on the fact that the community is contained within the walls of one of the residence halls.
This summer the second floor of Pulte Hall is being renovated to accommodate a formation community of young men who are contemplating the religious life. The renovations will include: bedrooms, a chapel, an office, a kitchen, living room, dining room, and television room. Br. John Paige, President of Holy Cross College explains the program, “Undergrads can live in community for a year with the Brothers to observe, as well as participate in, our religious life. They have experienced single life, and coming from families, they have an idea about married life. But religious life is counter-cultural and therefore, needs to be experienced to be understood.”
The Brothers are also going back to their roots with a reintroduction of past dress codes. Br. John elaborates, “Students comment that they like seeing the brothers wearing their habits at Mass. So to create greater visibility in ministry at the college, the brothers of Pulte Hall will now wear their religious street dress which consists of a black dress shirt, slacks, the cross and anchors pendant, as well as the brothers’ collar.” This collar is different from the priestly Roman collar that is notched. The brother’s straight collar is simply white across the top. This code of dress was common back in the founding days of the College in 1966 when Holy Cross was established to educate those in religious formation.
Br. John concludes, “We are reviving these old traditions because the young people are asking for them. Our origins are being reestablished in an effort to return to our roots while expanding our outreach. If there is a need for these young people to know about religious life, we have to fulfill that need and give them that experience.”
Elevating High Standards
At Holy Cross College, the goal is to meet the needs of the students so as to prepare them for their next goal in life. This is especially done in the classroom experience. Over the last several months, the College has been able to review the current honors curriculum and compare it with the classes offered at Notre Dame. The recent Gateway program has afforded an opportunity for Holy Cross to collaborate with Notre Dame on a new level. Gateway is a program in which students are referred by Notre Dame to Holy Cross to complete a one-year program before transferring to the University.
In order to meet the needs of these students, Holy Cross has worked to evaluate the current honors classes and verify that they have the same rigor comparable to first year classes at Notre Dame. As the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Justin Watson, has stated, “The idea is to mirror the first year curriculum at Notre Dame. This is to make sure the Gateway students are appropriately ready for Notre Dame. But it also verified that our own curriculum is rigorous.” This is a great asset to the community at large since Holy Cross can offer the same rigor of academia in a more close-knit and affordable setting.
This endeavor gave Notre Dame and Holy Cross professors a chance to interact and offer insights into each other’s courses. This exchange of ideas in order to enhance the courses, already of a high caliber, is a wonderful service to the students as these professors have worked to make sure they are getting the best education possible.
Dr. Watson recalls this past academic year, “I had two composition classes with a total of 28 students. They were both honors courses. Of those students, just 10 were in the Gateway program. The majority were not.” This illustrates how the reevaluated curriculum is not just benefiting Gateways. It is bettering the larger Holy Cross student body by offering them these rigorous classes as they go through an education that will transform them and make them more prepared for the future.
“Our honors courses were already very much aligned with the rigor found at Notre Dame. These slightly revised courses ended up being really successful, and that says something about where we already were in terms of our academic expectations,” Dr. Watson said.
He credits this striking alignment to the fact that the research was done thoroughly in terms of finding the right core classes with the most senior faculty. It also allowed Holy Cross to gain feedback on where they could serve Notre Dame. “Holy Cross was already planning to implement the first year of a pre-professional science curriculum for the '14-'15 academic year, but Notre Dame recommended that the two semesters of pre-professional calculus be lined up with Notre Dame’s so that potential pre-professional Gateways could complete some of their requirements at Holy Cross. It turns out to be a win-win for everybody.”
Exchanging Excellence: Polish Seminar held at Holy Cross
On July 8th, Holy Cross College hosted four Polish scholars from the John Paul II Catholic University in Lublin: – Jadwiga Daszykowska, Barbara Lubas, Piotr T. Nowakowski, and Miroslaw Rewera. The seminar focused on the theme “Enhancing Teaching and research Quality.” Each of the Polish guests presented an academic paper, so did ten members of the Holy Cross College faculty: Louis Albarran, Dianne Barlas, Isaac Desta, Michael Griffin, Br. George Klawitter, CSC, Sarah Kolda, David Lutz, Adrian Reimers, Br. John Tryon, CSC, and Sean Walton.
The seminar was held in the Pfeil Center Conference room from 9am until 5pm. Informal discussions were also part of the seminar. The purpose of the seminar was not only to improve the teaching and research excellence of the contributors, but also to form an informal relationship between the two institutions that will contribute to higher standards of Catholic education at both establishments.
Supporting Saints is a Success
A huge thank you to everyone that participated in Holy Cross College’s Fourth Annual Athletic Golf Outing! It was a tremendous success in terms of people playing and sponsors contributing. Main St. Pub did an amazing job catering the event and the fantastic weather made the day extremely enjoyable. We had 27 teams of four and raised almost $15,000! Your Holy Cross Saints thank you and we look forward to seeing you next year!