Nicholas Schilling (Law, Political Science, Peace Studies)

As a current law student at ND, and former undergraduate, I am distressed to hear of the possible changes to the THEO requirement of the core curriculum. I was a political science major and peace studies minor as an undergraduate, but my theology courses left an indelible mark upon my personal development as a student and as a Catholic person engaging the world.

The discipline of theology, as "faith seeking understanding", is a distinct and integral part of the Notre Dame experience. No student should graduate from Notre Dame without having taken theology courses. Religious studies courses are objective studies of how religion interacts with various portions of the human experience, but theology courses allow students to think more concretely and directly about how matters of faith can and do influence and guide the human pursuit of truth. Theology is a good that must be pursued as a good in and of itself by Catholic institutions. To ignore this responsibility would be to ignore the heart of what makes Notre Dame a special place. No amount of federal national research awards can ever measure up to the true value of theology upon the student experience. 

These THEO requirements have enabled generations of Notre Dame students to develop a faith that truly seeks understanding. My grandfather (Class of '53) used his theology background to supplement the way he saw the world and instill moral values in his children. His sixth child (and one of his six students to attend ND) was my father (Class of '86). My dad's commitment to his faith was nurtured by his study of theology at Notre Dame and affected the way he taught his children to love. My mother, an SMC grad of '86 and theology minor at ND, who is now coming back to pursue a master's of theology, finds that she is continually seeking to understand through her faith. The same goes for both of my sisters (Class of '10 and '16, respectively), who have developed notions of female adulthood based upon a true pursuit of truth through faith. For myself, my only regret is that I did not pursue more theology classes as an undergrad. I would never have known of my own insatiable desire to use my faith to seek understanding had it not been for those initial introductions in my THEO requirement courses.

Perhaps this decision is a reaction to some students' poor experiences in those THEO requirement courses, but that is not a reflection on the value of theology as a discipline. It is a reflection of the commitment of the University to nurture and develop its heart along with its mind. This phrase is used so often as lip service to justify enormous expenditures that push the University further and further from its core, and this decision to remove the THEO requirement is a sad expression of a loss of identity. If there is a problem with the courses offered or the faculty available, then, perhaps, Notre Dame would be better suited to use some of its expected $1 billion dollar expenditure over the next decade to reinforce an important and vital aspect of an undergraduate education. There are things that are truly important, and there are others that are not. How do we serve our students if we do not push them to think not only of their faith in this world, but also in the next?

Notre Dame should work less to be like its (so called) peer institutions and work more to be like itself. Catholicity, and thus the required study of theology, is the most important characteristic.

Julianne Corroto (Biochemistry, Education)

The first Catholic school that I attended was Notre Dame. While I was raised in a devout Catholic family, I attended an independent private school and received my theological education from my parents and at CCD through eighth grade Confirmation. I would have considered myself an academic, prior to attending Notre Dame. However, my relatively strong faith had remained this nebulous cloud of unknowing and unknowable, steeped with the emotion that youth group and service trips can bring, yet very detached from my intellect. 

I had thought about my faith in high school, but not in the way that brought much contemplation or depth of meaning. I did not have the means or the example to critically think about that which was most foundational to who I was. My faith was very detached from the life of my mind, a dangerous proposition for any questioning young adult. I had faith, but no understanding. I wasn't really even seeking understanding. This faith that I had didn't really have roots or the capacity to grow and sustain me without theology: faith seeking understanding. 

I am grateful for my Theology classes at Notre Dame for introducing me to an intellectual faith, one that fits more with my personality and has had the ability to grow and change as I have grown and changed. My theology classes at Notre Dame assisted me to develop a more mature faith, capable of growing and carrying me into my adult life. I was introduced to the great thinkers and the theology behind the traditions I believed whole-heartedly. Through my classes, I was given a language with which to speak about my faith and my identity. 

I ended up minoring in Theology, only because I had used all of my elective classes to pursue my newfound love: thinking, writing, and discussing my faith. If it weren't for the two required courses, I probably would not have thought to explore theology. I was very complacent in my emotion-based, heart-faith, which I now know is only part of the equation. My Foundations of Biblical theology was eye-opening, but it was my second required course that I took with John Meier on Christology that opened my eyes to the intellectual tradition of the Church. I explored the Sacraments with Max Johnson and had my world turned on its head in Fagerberg's Theology of the Mass and G.K. Chesterton classes. One of my only regrets was not having enough time to take more theology classes at Notre Dame. I would have wanted to double-major if biochemistry wasn't so difficult and the labs time-consuming.

Now teaching science in a Catholic school with a majority non-Catholic student body, my intellectual faith gives me the means to evangelize. I have a faith that has and can continue to grow up with me into my adult life. I still think about and reference works we read in our classes. It's hard to express how much my theology classes mean to me because they have so quickly become a part of who I am and how I think about the world. I wonder what my life would be like if I hadn't actively and intellectually pursued my faith in college. I remember starting ND complacent in my faith--how wrong I was and how much more I had (and still have) to learn.

Stephen Eckart, MD

I was a biological sciences major who ended up going on to medical school and am currently in residency training to be a family physician, and I feel my theology classes at Notre Dame were vital to my formation.  We as humans are so much more than our careers!  

Yes Notre Dame does a great job of shaping young men and women into people with successful careers, but to be honest, I could've gotten into medical school going just about anywhere.  Notre Dame is so special because of who it turned me into, not what.  I'm a cradle Catholic, but theology courses in my first two years opened me up to the excitement of exploring religion and faith and motivated me to keep seeking.  

I was honestly a little bit disappointment when my first year theo was a world religions course and not strictly about Catholicism, but exploring other religions and the universal symbols used by different cultures helped open my eyes to the beauty of our faith as well as others.  Other theo classes helped further my understanding of the sacraments and have helped me connect with the Church and the Body of Christ throughout different phases and struggles both in college and beyond.  

Without the theology background I gained at Notre Dame, I wouldn't be the doctor I am today.  

I wouldn't be as compassionate; I wouldn't be as effective caring for people from other faith backgrounds and finding the human connection we all share as travelers on the journey; and I simply wouldn't be as confident addressing the spiritual side of my patients' lives.  That's where I excel compared to many of my peers, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Nor would the Blessed Virgin on top of that shiny dome.  

Keep theology a part of the core curriculum at Notre Dame...


Stephen Eckart, MD

Derek Wolf (Mechanical Engineer)

I graduated in the class of 2013 with a degree in mechanical engineering.  Had ND not had the theology requirement, I would have missed out on two of my favorite classes and professors in my time at Notre Dame. 

As a freshman, I took the required "Foundations" course taught by Peter Fritz (If you happen to read this, Thank You!). This class widened my understanding of my own faith and forced me to think critically about what I had always just accepted as truth. This is clearly a skill which is important in all disciplines and in life. 

During my senior year, I was again lucky to take Professor Gabe Reynold's "Islam's Challenge to Christianity" (Professor Reynold's, if you also happen to read this, Thank you!).  Again, without the requirement, there is no way I would have taken this course. It turned out to be my favorite non major course in my time at ND. I learned so much about my own faith as I also learned about Islam, a previously little known religion in my life. This understanding allows me to be better educated when looking at world events today. It has made me a better human being and global citizen which I think is the main purpose of a Notre Dame education. By better understanding Islam and it's similarities and differences with Christianity, I can have an informed, rational opinion when otherwise I may have made a fearful one as so many people in this world have done. I can understand why the events are happening right now, and thus have legitimate ideas on finding peace. I know how to find the common ground which we all can stand on, and thus work to create unity. These lessons can be taken to any situation in which people have differences.

Theology courses teach far more than just theology. They teach us to investigate the differences (theological, political, or any other difference) we have with others both as a way to better understand ourselves and to understand them. They provide examples of how to have a civil argument with people who's views seem so very contradictory from our own. They show the importance of knowing yourself before being able to fully engage others, and yet still maintaining the ability to constantly reevaluate and recreate yourself. Notre Dame develops leaders in this world, and these skills, which were developed in my theology courses, are critical to developing the leaders this world needs.

On a completely different note, the theology courses added to the community at ND. I met people who I would never have been friends with at ND. As with all my core requirements, it was great to meet people who were not 1) in my dorm and 2) in my major.  The community at ND is one major aspect that makes the school special, and without these courses, I would have known fewer people and my experience would have been lessened. 

The theology requirement for Notre Dame made me a better person, and I will be forever grateful.

Jean Henegan (English and History)

My second theology requirement was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. When I was studying abroad in London, I was one of the first three students to intern with a local London parish for my final theo credit. Being immersed within a diverse parish was something a suburbanite like me had never experienced. I was able to visit the elderly parishioners, discussing their lives growing up in London (including hearing harrowing stories of their time in the London Blitz- amazing for someone like me, studying 20th Century History as one of my majors), as well as speaking to a wide array of immigrants about their journey in their Catholic faith.

As a double major in English and History, I wouldn't have sought out theology courses without the requirement, and would have missed out on an amazing opportunity. I still believe my ND theo requirements were crucial in helping me understand the world around me better, and offered me chances I never would have sought out on my own. 

Jessica Heintz (STEM: Biology - Medical School)

Although there are many things I could say about the value of my theological education at the University of Notre Dame, two things in particular come to mind. To begin, I majored in biology, and I will admit that I did not mull over the finer points of my science courses beyond the classroom anymore than I had to. However, the class that fulfilled my second theology requirement (War, Peace, and Conscience with Professor Michael Baxter, Fall 2010) was the complete opposite and undoubtedly one of the best classes I ever took at Notre Dame. Very few courses over my four years at Notre Dame kept me thinking about their topics outside of the classroom, and this theology class was one of the most engaging.

At the end of each theology class, I would find my mind still reeling over the discussion topic for the day as I packed up my bag and wandered back to my dormitory. During meals, I wanted to engage my friends in conversation about the class and all that I was learning. The papers and other assignments for the class were not just something to check off a list and get done as soon as possible. I really cared about the topics and wanted to take the time to understand the material and form my own educated opinions. Thus, although I greatly valued my science education at Notre Dame, it was a theology class that left the greatest mark on my heart and mind.

I feel that many other STEM majors would say the same thing at the end of their time at Notre Dame. It would be a disappointment if students missed out on the beauty of theology classes. If not required, many students might not have the opportunity to participate in a theology class due to the myriad of other required courses and demands that accompany a STEM major. Furthermore, some students might decline to take a theology course because they do not realize what they are passing up on. Help keep students' eyes open, help them see the bigger world around them, which is one that extends beyond science and engineering labs.

The second point I wanted to share is in regards to my minor in Catholic Social Tradition. I picked up the minor during my sophomore year, and that decision has had a truly enormous impact on my life. While I already knew I liked biology, I discovered I loved CST. I did not know it was possible to feel so passionate about something you were studying until I took up my minor. Once I began studying CST, I knew that whatever I did with my life, it had to be something that allowed me to live out the principles of my minor. Additionally, my CST minor was like a breath of fresh air in the midst of my heavy science course load. It let me use a different part of my brain that I had no idea even existed.

Because of my CST minor, I decided to pursue medical school, which would provide the perfect balance of my interest in science and my strong desire to help other people. I wanted to serve others and be God's hands in this world. After doing a year of postgraduate service abroad in Guatemala, I will be starting medical school in the fall of 2015. This journey has been challenging at times but overall such an incredible adventure of a blessing. I simply cannot imagine what my life would be like now if I had not been exposed to and become involved with CST and theology during my time at Notre Dame.

I sincerely hope that by sharing some of my story the committee reviewing the Core Curriculum may be inspired to leave the theology requirements intact. They help students grow in ways they did not know were possible and awaken hidden passions. May God bless you in your work.

Regan McGann (Science Pre-Professional)

Apologia Pro Theologia

I can still picture the study room where I was sitting in Pasquerilla West when it hit me.  While writing an essay for my Foundations of Theology class (taught by Matt Zyniewicz), I realized what the Eucharist was. (*Disclaimers galore: of course it’s a mystery that can never be fully grasped but I was given a great gift of insight about what God communicates with Holy Communion.)  That’s Jesus.  That’s His passion, cross, death, and resurrection made present every time.  For me.  For anyone.  Holy Lord God Almighty! I was floored.  I paused writing my essay to say: Thank you.  Eucharistia.

I grew up Catholic.  I went to a Catholic grade school and high school.  I was even heavily involved in my parish’s youth group.  But I had never been told to read Augustine, the Catechism or any Church documents really.  Thank God for my core Notre Dame theology classes; they gave me the opportunity to deepen my knowledge of God to better love and serve Him.

Jump ahead three years to the summer before my senior year: I was sitting around the dining room table of the St. Peter Claver Catholic Worker House here in South Bend (where I currently reside as a live-in staff member).  Sheila McCarthy, a Notre Dame Theology PhD student, was “practicing” her Foundations class on the summer volunteers before she taught in the Fall.  I was taking notes! I never take notes.  I had even theoretically taken this class already!  It was then I realized that I wanted to be learning theology and where better than Notre Dame?  I immediately bussed up to campus, switched my major from biology to pre-professional sciences, changed my class schedule and signed up for a full semester of five theology classes.  It was an incredibly blessed semester.  I took a total of eight theology classes that year and since I had taken my two requirements already, I graduated with a double major in pre-professional science and theology.

I took a picture under the “God is Love”-engraved doorway at Geddes in my graduation cap and gown.  “That’s the most important education,” I said to my family.  Nowadays, in daily Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, I sit behind one of my former theology professors (Dr. David Fagerberg).  As we sit before the Blessed Sacrament, I recall how he had further enhanced my knowledge of God’s love in the Eucharist by explaining in class how we are re-membered to God as we “do this is memory of Me.”  I will always remember with gratitude all that my Notre Dame theology classes taught me.

Eucharistia.  Thanks be to God.

Mary Faurot (Pre-Med, Chemical Engineering)

By far the most meaningful courses I have taken as part of my core curriculum experience were my two theology courses.  Coming into Notre Dame, I was not happy that I was being required to take these two courses.  I had already had fourteen years of Catholic schooling, and I thought that I should not have to take any more theology courses.  Frankly, I thought it was a waste of six credits that could have been used for other things that I felt were more pertinent to my career.
My theology courses provided me with a look into my Catholic faith that I had never had before.  Though I had already been in Catholic schooling for fourteen years, I hadn't read much of the Bible outside of Mass.  In my Foundations course, we read the Bible and came to understand it in both religious and historical terms.  I found myself much more engaged in Mass every weekend as I listened to the Gospel and thought about what I had learned in my theology class that week.  In my second theology course, I have gained a better understanding of what it means to live my Catholic faith.  I have been challenged to analyze the way I live my life and determine whether that is actually the way I should be living my life.  My two theology courses are the only courses I have taken at this University in which I read the assigned readings and then sit for a while afterward, contemplating how the things I have just read pertain to my own life.

Overall, my theology courses have been one of the most important parts of my Catholic education at Notre Dame.  I came to this University with the view that college was a path to a career.  After having taken my theology courses, I see my education as a way to form myself as a person and discover the kind of professional I want to be.  I have found that I don't want to be merely a competent and skilled physician; I also want to be a loving and compassionate physician who shows God's healing and kindness to every patient who comes through her door.  In my time here, I have come to understand that I was not made to be a person who does a job; I was made to be a person who does a job with love so that the world might be a little better because I have lived in it.  I would not have come to understand my vocation in this way if I had not taken my theology courses.  I hope that the University will continue to place an emphasis on theology so that all Notre Dame students can come to understand the faith and what it means to live out the faith in our daily lives.

Sam Flores (Electrical Engineering)

In August 2011, I stepped into my first ever theology class, Foundations of Theology. Two days later, I turned in a paper expressing my opinion on whether Notre Dame’s theology requirements were beneficial to students. In this paper, I conveyed my excitement to learn about a subject that was a huge part of my life, and – without having any experiences to back-up my claims – I voiced a few reasons explaining why I thought taking these classes would ultimately make somebody a better person.
Fast forward 3 ½ years, in which I completed two theology courses, a summer of Notre Dame Vision, and a philosophy course based on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, and I can honestly say I would not be the person I am today without having gone through any of that. Working for Notre Dame Vision and taking the corresponding theology course (which fulfilled my 2nd theology requirement) opened my eyes to what it means to be Catholic and has forever changed the way I view the world and my place in it. That experience even prompted me to make sure my 2nd philosophy course was intertwined with Catholicism.

The funny thing is I probably would never have taken a theology or philosophy class if it wasn’t required. I always knew I wanted to be an engineer, so even in high school I gravitated towards STEM classes. I figured math and science were what I needed to focus on and I really didn’t give much thought to any of my other classes. I did well in them, but I didn’t appreciate them because they didn’t really align with what I wanted to study in college. Because religion is a big part of my life, theology was the first non-STEM subject that I truly felt engaged in. I’m glad I had the opportunity to explore it because I truly did find it to be beneficial to my education. See learning about the bible may not help me to understand the mechanisms by which a transistor conducts current and exploring the beliefs of St. Thomas Aquinas may not help me to understand the methods of chip fabrication, but these courses taught me something completely different.

These courses are responsible for making me more well-rounded and more open-minded. They are responsible for teaching me how to express my opinions in ways that allow me to have meaningful discussions with others; and they are responsible for showing me where I stand in relation to the world, and in relation to God. As a result, I am no longer studying electrical engineering because it’s something I’m really interested in. I’m studying it because I realize that my passion for engineering is a gift and I want to use it to contribute to the world. At one point I may have thought that theology or philosophy classes didn’t play a role in helping me to become a good engineer, but now I know that they have set me on my way to becoming a great engineer. That’s the Notre Dame difference, and that’s why I hope that future students, who might not other wise have the opportunity to take these courses, get to experience the benefits of studying theology.

Tim Reidy (Architecture)

Lessons From A Not-So-Theology-Major

The theology and philosophy core requirements at Notre Dame serve more of a purpose than simply teaching students about God and reason.  The truths inherent in philosophy and theology are broader than just the words of the New Testament, and Soren Kierkegaard.  I know from experience, that my education without those truths, would have been aimless and egotistical.

One only needs to read the story of Howard Roark in Ayn Rand’s “Fountainhead” to understand the lonely path that many great architects take.  They rely entirely on their own talent and creative power for inspiration.   If they search for a genuine “human element” in their designs, they seek it from their own person, and not from history or tradition.  Such was the path that my architecture education at Notre Dame was taking, until I found certain un-questionable truths to inspire me and my creativity.

My first theology course at Notre Dame was a continuation of my previous 12 years of Catholic education.  Much of the material I knew already.  The knowledge was basic and did not call me to think outside the box.  My first philosophy course forced me to read and think in creative ways that I had never done before.  However, my heart and mind were not quite mature enough yet.  I was still trying to discover who I was, and therefore, the truths I found were not internalized.

I would not ultimately take my second theology and philosophy courses until my fourth and fifth years, after I had had a chance to spend a summer counseling at Notre Dame Vision, taken two trips to Appalachia to build homes, taught Math and learned Rutooro during my ISSLP in Kyarusozi, Uganda, studied abroad in Rome, experienced two critical and painful deaths in my family, and began and ended two formative dating relationships with Notre Dame girls.  A lot of life happens during four years (and in my case, 5 years) of college.  Our lives and vocations become more focused, our friend-groups become more solidified, and our maturity hopefully grows.  It was at this juncture that philosophy and theology steered me in the direction that my wonderful life has taken ever since.

G.K. Chesteron (through the masterful teaching of David Fagerberg) taught me to inject my abundance of joy into every facet of my life, including architecture, and to defend that joy with a genuine apologetic understanding of Christ’s love.  That joy ultimately led me to finding a new girlfriend that semester (who is now my wife and the mother of my child).  Chesterton taught me to remove my ego from my work, and to trust in the beauty of traditions, whether Catholic, Ugandan, classical, or vernacular.  My studio projects in New Mexico and India that semester were among the most beautiful and memorable of my entire student career.

My second philosophy course was Ecology, Economics, and Ethics.  The principles taught in this seminar course instilled a renewed sense of purpose into my career as an architect.  It guided me towards becoming LEED accredited, it helped me argue the purpose of sustainable vernacular design for my thesis (a Ugandan marketplace, which won the Norman A. Crowe award for Sustainability), and it has guided my efforts in dozens of LEED-certified and historic preservation projects as a professional.

The formative effect that those two courses had on my life and my vocation inspired me to take even more courses beyond the core requirements.  I took Daniel Groody and Virgil Elizondo’s
Latin American Spirituality, and Marriage and the Family (which I had to specially request from the Philosophy Department).  Understanding the plight of Latin Americans, and the beauty of immigrant culture prepared my heart and mind for life with my Belizian-born aunt and her extended family of immigrants in Chicago.  Critical-thinking about the role of working parents in their children’s lives has shaped my own family life, and given my wife and I courage to both work while still raising our child.

It doesn’t seem like much to take away one course from the requirements of the core curriculum. After all, the majority of the students at Notre Dame could care less about those requirements anyways.  Most of us wouldn’t bother taking theology or philosophy courses at all if they weren’t a pre-requisite for graduation.  I should know.  I used to be one of those students.  The University of Notre Dame has a wealth of knowledge and an ability to inspire students both within their careers, and beyond their careers.  It has a unique power to shape the mind and soul simultaneously.  The creative power of the Theology and Philosophy departments at Notre Dame is what sets Notre Dame apart from the Ivy Leagues.  Those departments feed the minds that start ISSLPs, lead retreats, cook breakfast at the Catholic Worker, raise loving children, and defend the faith in the workplace.

As my brother, Fr. Patrick Reidy, C.S.C. once told me, “Priests are not called to evangelize the whole world.  They are called to serve and minister to the people of the church.  They are called to prepare the laity of the church to become evangelists themselves, through word and action in the world.”  If theology and philosophy are left to only the theology majors and seminarians at Notre Dame, then the ability for the rest of us to evangelize suddenly begins to fade away.  In the case of architecture, we begin to lose the “human element,” as defined and discussed by thousands of years of brilliant and holy saints and scholars.

Some of those saints and scholars are teaching at Notre Dame today.  The school ought to find a way to make them more accessible to the general student population, not less.  The ability that Notre Dame has to shape lives and careers is astounding.

Vincent Birch

Sometimes subtle changes are the most dangerous ones. They do not appear drastic enough to warrant resistance, but often they have unintended consequences that extend far beyond what could have been easily predicted. And then the consequences transform thought and culture without ever really seeing it happen.

Though this sounds dramatic, this is how the current review of the truly seems. The theology faculty is crying out, recognizing the drastic consequences of the University of Notre Dame’s potential turn from the theology requirement. They are flying in the face of the change, asking not that the current requirement be maintained, but that it increase. The masses ignore the resistance, either apathetic toward the core curriculum entirely, apathetic or antithetic toward the theology requirement, or hoping to see the change carried out. Meanwhile, if the change is carried out, it will have serious ramifications on the identity of the University. The subtle change from the two-course theology requirement to the one theology and one “Catholic studies” requirement shifts, in whatever seemingly small way, the intellectual focus of the University away from the intellectual center of Catholicism. I can personally attest to the certainty of this consequence based on my own coursework.

My freshman year I took an excellent course called “Christianity, Commerce, and Consumerism over the past Thousand Years” with Professor Brad Gregory. This course fulfilled my history university requirement. Putting aside how the “Catholic studies” requirement could possibly be regulated, this course would surely qualify, as it discussed the Church’s understanding of money and wealth with the development of consumer-based societies. Despite what the course did teach me about my faith, it was most certainly a history course. It discussed Catholic thought, but primarily for the purpose of studying a historical problem. A theology course may very well address the same topics that this history course did, but a theology course would study the material for the purpose of learning about Sacred Scripture and Tradition. This touches the crux of the issue. With the elimination of one of the theology requirements, the University will be, in essence, turning its intellectual focus away from Scripture and Tradition. Courses offered by other departments that integrated “Catholic studies” would be fantastic for providing a curriculum that bolstered the Catholic education of the University. But turning away from a Scripture and Tradition based theology course in order to add a “Catholic studies” requirement would be essentially opposed to providing a Catholic-based curriculum. It is impossible for the University to replace a course with the object of studying Scripture and Tradition with one that integrates Scripture and Tradition in order to study another discipline and simultaneously maintain that it is not diminishing its Catholic intellectual focus.

I took a second-level theology course my junior year that was instrumental in my personal faith journey and that completely changed my future trajectory. I was a mathematics and philosophy major that was fully intending to get a job pertaining to my mathematics studies after graduation. My faith had been important to me, but not central. Taking “The Christian Experience: Vocation and the Theological Imagination,” with Professor Tim O’Malley taught me the significance of what it means to assert, “I believe,” in regard to my faith. It made me recognize that I was living inauthentically if I claimed to be Catholic but did not see the impact this necessarily has on every aspect of my life. I learned that everything I do has to proceed from my reception of the Body of Christ. Needless to say, it was transformational for my faith.

We read a novel in this course entitled Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. This is a novel that could have been read in courses in a number of disciplines, and in any of them something would have been studied regarding Christianity by the mere fact that it is about a preacher. But if I had read this novel in a Christian literature English course, it would have been for the purpose of discussing the Christian influences Robinson integrates, the religious imagery she uses, and perhaps for the moral questions that it raises—a course that would have an impact on my understanding of my faith. But only a theology course could have utilized this novel in such a way as to teach me about the Catholic imagination as seeing the world through the lens of faith anchored in the Church’s Sacred Scripture and Tradition, as this particular second-level theology course did.

This course not only changed how I look at my faith, and consequently my life, but also was the beginning of my new path. I graduated last May from the College of Science with majors in mathematics and philosophy, and a minor in theology that I added after taking this course. This year I have been serving with Christian Appalachian Project in Kentucky, but have discerned that I would like to pursue graduate studies—in theology. I will begin a Master of Theological Studies program somewhere next fall. Though the school is currently undetermined, I have been accepted. First and second level theology courses cultivate faith that is intellectually focused on Scripture and Tradition and often pique an unforeseen interest. Both of these consequences can have truly life changing effects.

I offer my personal testimony both to provide an example of how meaningful first and second level theology courses can be and to make a more general point about how important theology is to the core curriculum and University. If the theology requirement is reduced then the curriculum turns away from the intellectual heart of the Church, Sacred Scripture and Tradition. As a Catholic University, why ever sacrifice contributors to the Catholic identity?  Perhaps this is a minor shift, but what other seemingly small concessions will be subsequently made? This is why the theology faculty has cried out. They see that this change is a step away from being a Catholic University. A University is, in its essence, intellectually based, and if its intellectual center shifts away from the Church then so does the University itself.

The University of Notre Dame is a liberal arts university, not a seminary. But it is a Catholic liberal arts University. Ultimately, the question underlying this discussion is about how to be a great Catholic University. Catholic intellectuals have addressed this subject, and the University’s esteemed theology faculty and gifted students have been recently addressing this for Notre Dame in particular, but my testimony ends with one question for the Core Curriculum Review Committee: Can the University truly claim to be giving students a Catholic education if the majority of the students graduate after only taking one course on the intellectual foundation of Catholicism?

Marisel Wilbur (Finance)

I am a junior finance major from Walsh Hall. When I was completing my core requirement, I found some to be more useful than others. While I personally dreaded taking two philosophies, I am firm in my belief that we should still require 2 theology courses. As a catholic school, I think it is important to have these classes and to ensure that our students have a strong basis of theology. I enjoyed my second theology course that focused on the Old Testament. We studied aspects of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. By looking at the Old Testament from different perspectives, I became more literate in Catholic theology.  Notre Dame prides itself of being a premiere Catholic institution, and as such, Notre Dame should educate its students and require two theology courses.

Laura Schaffer (Program of Liberal Studies)

I can't help being concerned about the potential removal of theology requirements from the Core Curriculum.  My ND theology requirements, one of which I took through PLS and the other through the department itself, are honestly among the most valuable courses of my college experience.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Professor Mongrain's Christian Theological Tradition changed my life, for it influenced my perspective on the world and its relationship to God.  It helped me to understand my faith as a love affair rather than a series of imposed (albeit correctly imposed) tenets, and it allowed me to appreciate the personal, intellectual and richly beautiful Faith in its paradoxical mystery.

Professor Johnson's Liturgical Theology class then built on this foundation by shedding new light on the Liturgical Year as a cycle through which we seek to express and pursue the mystical relationship between God and man, celebrating it in its past and future by a kind of incarnation in the liturgical present.  As a Catholic who had attended Mass my whole life, I came to realize, through this class, the beautiful complexity and the living fulness of the Faith in its concrete manifestations.

The value of ND's required theology courses cannot be overstated.  Had it not been for these requirements, I might easily have missed out on courses which deeply informed my understanding of what it means to be a human being truly alive in the world.

Daniel Pittner (Math & Physics)

I graduated in 2009 with a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics.  However, I didn't start college at Notre Dame; I transferred in as a sophomore, with only some basic courses out of the way.  In order to accomplish a double major in only three years, I had to take at least 18 credits each semester, and for both semesters of my junior year I had 21 credit hours.  There were certainly some required courses that I wished I could have skipped--but theology was definitely not one of them.

I didn't expect to really enjoy my intro theology course, but it turned out to be one of my favorite classes my first semester at ND.  It was also one of the most demanding.  Our instructor constantly challenged us to think about scripture and Church teachings in new ways, and to think deeply about our faith.  To this day, I very often find myself reaching back to what I learned in that class during personal reflection and when talking about my faith to my family, friends, and even my children.

But my second theology class, War, Law, and Ethics, was by far the more rewarding of the two.  I was a ROTC cadet at Notre Dame and am now serving as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.  I believe my War, Law, and Ethics course was essential in my preparation to serve as a military officer.  I was able to fully explore how my faith related to the career I was training for, and find ways to apply it to ensure I could make moral and ethical decisions even in the most difficult situations, with lives on the line.  If I had to choose a single favorite course from my time at Notre Dame, it would be this theology course.

I chose to go to Notre Dame because I wanted not only to receive a top-tier education, but also to grow in my Catholic faith and learn how to live it from day to day, both at home and in my profession.  The university's mission statement gives as one of its goals "to provide a forum where, through free inquiry and open discussion, the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge found in the arts, sciences, professions, and every other area of human scholarship and creativity."  This perfectly describes the fantastic opportunity I enjoyed in both of my theology classes.  Removing or reducing the theology requirement would rob future students of this opportunity, and would run contrary to Notre Dame's own stated goals and mission.

Lesley (Fuchs) Kirzeder (History)

Dear Dr. Burish (Provost):

I am deeply saddened and disturbed to learn that the University of Notre Dame is considering removing the Theology requirement from the undergraduate curriculum.  Not only would this immeasurably dilute the Catholic identity of the University, it would rob students of opportunities for formation in the Catholic faith and, even more importantly, of unexpected instances of transformation and evangelization. 

I was blessed to have been unexpectedly transformed in my own faith life while attending Notre Dame from 1999-2003.  Although I was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith, I was not brought up in an environment of formation.  Like so many, I came to Notre Dame unsure of who I was and who I was going to be.  So much of that uncertainty resided in the uncertainty of my own belief system and personal relationship with the Lord.  Eager to steep myself in academia, I streamed every course selection possible toward my passion, Russian History.  As a member of the inaugural class of the History Honors Track, I was able to hone my interests further with the invaluable opportunity for thesis work and deeper study of historiography.  I had no plans to further my faith formation through academic work.

Surprisingly, I found that my required Theology courses planted irrevocable seeds in my mind and heart that would not have been planted had I solely followed a curriculum geared strictly toward my academic interests.  These courses gave me a language with which I could think and talk about my faith.  They supplied me with the fundamentals that I had been missing and opened up a new way of seeking out a relationship to God: not one of Sunday obligations, but one in which God could come to be known, loved, and served through study, reading, and engaging in discussion with peers.  All of these routes to formation were revealed to me and realistic to me. They were familiar and accessible to a history major, who thrived on those very same methods of coming to know the past and the present world. 

My Theology courses provided the basic but necessary framework on which I could finally begin to build my faith.  Through the intentional work of my professors, I found myself more confident in my faith.  I had been freshly equipped with a guided path to our Church traditions, and I could approach the prayers, recitations, and readings in the liturgy with a deeper understanding.  I could uncover connections throughout the liturgy to the Holy Sacrament, which took on a whole new meaning for me.

The University of Notre Dame, as I have known it, has always seemed to oscillate in its core identity.  Is it a research institution? A teaching institution?  I could not answer that as a student, nor can I answer that as an alumna.  However, it is shocking to me that in recent years, I’ve had to ask myself if my beloved alma mater is a Catholic university.  Notre Dame’s Catholic identity has been increasingly overshadowed by the massive building and fundraising projects that seem to have allowed the physical expansion to overtake the core mission of the university.  I was encouraged when the Office of the Vice President of Mission Engagement and Church Affairs was bolstered with new advisors and, what seemed to be, a new zeal in exploring the relationship between Notre Dame and the Church.  Would this mean that Notre Dame was once again putting its Catholic Identity on the same plane as growing its already enormous endowment?  However, with this new movement to rid the undergraduate curriculum of its Theology requirement, I have to question the leadership’s commitment to the University’s mission in a grave way.

I implore you, Dr. Burish, to consider our founder Fr. Edward Sorin’s intent, Fr. Hesburgh’s lifetime of work, and the University’s Mission. I encourage you to reflect on the countless others who have had transformative faith experiences launched by their theology courses and how you will be robbing future students of that opportunity.  Your position holds much greater weight than its title and authority.  As a leader of this beloved Catholic institution you assume, in part, a responsibility for students’ souls.  You are one of the torchbearers of Fr. Sorin’s legacy, just as those who Archbishop Elder of Cincinnati so eloquently charged to carry on the founder’s good works at Fr. Sorin’s funeral:

Pray, then, my dearly beloved, pray for the souls even of those whose lives have been most saintly. We know not what hidden debt they may owe to divine justice. Pray particularly for your priests, for they have to render a rigorous account both of their own souls and of yours. They have to answer, not only for what they have done, but for what more they might have done by the diligent use of those divine powers which God has given them -- not for their own glory, but for the service of His people; and as God requires them to use their priestly powers for you, so He requires you to use your power of prayer for them.

As a leader, are your decisions helping students get to Heaven?  Of course, that is between you and God, and only you will have to answer for that at the end of your days.  I pray that your answer is easy to give.

Brian Suehs-Vassel

I am blessed to work at Nazareth Farm, a Catholic Non-Profit that offers service retreats for High School and College students and provides home repair to local families in need.

This past year one of the Notre Dame students serving with us lead a prayer about Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and they were moved to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to all who could hear.

She shared that when the Holy Spirit spoke through human beings that day, the Spirit spoke through the voices of the poor - carpenters, fisherman, day laborers, folks who are just scraping by. God speaks through the poor. What a powerful message of good news this student shared with us in the midst of the week of service. “Pay attention, you may meet God in places and people you do not expect.”

This student made this profound realization during one of her introductory theology classes at Notre Dame. She is a History major and her dream is to open up an Early Childhood Education center in her hometown, specifically to serve children most in need.

This young women’s wisdom was a gift to everyone at Nazareth Farm and I think it will be a gift to all the children and families she serves in the future. Even though she is not a theology major, her study of theology helped form her as a loving person who understands that God has a special care for the poor and often speaks through their words and actions.

I hope that the Early Childhood Education Center that cares for all the children I know has leadership that studied Theology. I hope that those leaders can see God in all the small, vulnerable, beautiful children they serve. As an alumnus I would ask the University of Notre Dame to continue to form teachers, engineers, accountants, doctors and other professionals who have studied theology and thought deeply about how thousands of years of divine wisdom impacts their professional lives. #loveTHEOnotredame.

Lorraine Armstrong (Physician, Alum, Mother of Students)

I cannot be quiet after hearing recent developments for the future curriculum at Notre Dame. When both of my children were looking at colleges I stayed out of their decision making process even though I was a graduate. They looked at a combined total of at least 27 colleges and universities. Although admitted at most of their choices, they withdrew applications from some, such as University of Pennsylvania...because of their strong secular emphasis and lack for respect for core values. With both of our children, when it came down to the difficult decision on the night before the required moment that they had to submit their choice, Notre Dame won. 

Notre Dame won over Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, and over the Naval Academy. I quietly celebrated because I recalled my amazing experiences at Notre Dame 35 years ago. I am now a physician but have no significant memories of my premedical courses...other than Dr. Hoffman's amazing methods of teaching. My life changing courses were in Theology and Philosophy. Father Malloy and Father Dunne were powerful beyond words. They and my other theology class work transformed my life. My husband, who attended an Ivy, had no such experience. When my children looked at the syllabus for theology at Georgetown, it seemed to almost treat religion as a problem, or simply an interesting topic, not a way of life. In talking to students there, and at the Academy, their faith life, study and practice of religion were definitely not a priority. They were on their own to try to find it. Notre Dame filled that gap.

So that is why my children are at Notre Dame. They received no scholarships, no merit awards, or in-state tuition that so many other place offered. It was very hard let hundreds of thousands of dollars of financial aid slip away. 

But how do you put a price tag on someone's soul? We can't. And we hope you won't either.

Please don't let Notre Dame be just another nondescript expensive school on that list of top schools. Don't take away the theology, and do not allow it to be taught by those who are not Theology faculty.

Erin Kimbell (Theology, Education)

I started my freshman year not knowing what major to choose. My dad was really pulling for business, and my mom was more quiet about her opinion. I had a lot of ideas but nothing felt quite right according to the vocation God had planned for me. It wasn't until Introduction to Theology taught by John Cavadini that I felt comfortable declaring Theology as my major. I consider my time at Notre Dame invaluable largely due to the wonderful professors and conversations had within the Theology department. It is what led me to serve in Catholic Schools today as the third grade teacher at St. John the Evangelist in Pensacola, FL. I cannot imagine taking away the opportunity for students to grow in their faith journey at a CATHOLIC institution. Why call yourself a Catholic University if you don't expose *all* students to some form of faith formation? 

Katie (Geisler) Busch (History and Italian)

When I came to Notre Dame, the only religious education I had received had come from CCD at my home parish and taking part in some high school retreats. I thought I had already learned all I needed to know about the Catholic faith. Check off that box.

Second semester freshman year I took Prof. Robert Krieg's Foundations of Theology class after a friend recommended him as a great, funny professor. The class was mind blowing to me. The bible was written and compiled over a long period of time? The authors were real people, with audiences and cultural backgrounds that shaped their writing? This was not just the same old bible anymore. The stories in it had context and motives. I had thought I knew the stories and the lessons we were supposed to learn from them, but all of a sudden I realized I knew basically nothing at all. I loved Prof. Krieg's class. I couldn't get enough of learning about the Old Testament and the Gospels and how there was so much more inside them than I ever imagined.

Sophmore year I took my second requirement - an overview class of the sacraments. The last time I had learned about Eucharist in any kind of systematic way I had been in second grade, Reconciliation, fourth grade. Never had I learned about the sacraments of marriage, or holy orders, or baptism, at least that I can remember. It was wonderful to learn about the development and meaning of these sacraments that I'd just taken for granted. I may not be a theologian or priest, but these sacraments are a part of my spiritual life, and it was eye-opening to learn about the graces that I'd been receiving my whole life but had never stopped to think about before.

After I'd fulfilled my university requirements, I kept taking theology courses whenever I had room in my schedule, and I ended up with a minor in theology. Before I came to Notre Dame, theology was never something I thought I would study. It would just be a requirement to fulfil, no different than my science or math requirements. But these first two courses opened my mind to a God who's bigger than parish CCD or a few retreats. God and His grace can't be contained, and I'll never know all there is to know about Him. I hope I'll be able to instill this same sense my own daughters as they grow up - keep wondering about God and heaven and the saints. Keep asking questions about Him. Keep reading the stories in the bible because they'll always have something new for you to discover and hear. Keep being open to the movement of God's grace in your life through the sacraments. And it's all because of the seeds those first two theology classes planted in my own heart and mind.

Michael Sena (Engineering, Theology, Philosophy)

To my Notre Dame Family:

What is more important than the love of God and the love of neighbor?  That is, what is more important than for me to love God and to love my neighbor?  And how can I love what I have not seen or known?

In the course of the present discussion about the core curriculum, I defer to others, my fellow classmates, alumni, and professors, who are certainly more talented and gifted than I am.  Still, I wish to share a few words.

When I originally came to campus my heart was set on studying engineering.  But by 2004 I had walked a different path and earned a degree in theology and philosophy; and in the spring of 2006, when I finally left South Bend for home, I was a proud double Domer with yet one more theology degree.  

Although at this point in my life I have come full circle, having returned to engineering and now pursuing a career at one of our national laboratories, I look back in gratitude and realize what I gift I received — and consequently have been blessed to share — through my study of God.  In fact, when I went back to school to study engineering (where I attended only public universities), I came to realize how blessed I was to be able to engage and pursue the field of theology, guided by remarkable men and women, before venturing elsewhere.

Being exposed to theology at Notre Dame not only changed the course of my life, it also had an effect on my family, friends, and community when I returned to New Mexico.  To be sure, it is impossible to say with certainty what my life would have been like, and where I'd be now, had I never taken a theology class.  But I firmly believe that those first courses in theology allowed something within me to come alive and grow.  Had it not been for those unique opportunities, I doubt that I would have ever encountered those wonderful professors who opened my eyes to the science of God and helped me come to a deeper appreciation of the inexhaustible gift of faith.  Though our time together was brief, what they shared has remained, and I now carry it with me.

To those of you who have been charged with reviewing the core curriculum — which, as I understand it, will likely entail weighing the value of theology courses and entertaining the possibility of either modifying the current requirement or eliminating it altogether — you have elicited strong feelings of dissatisfaction and anxiety, not to mention several questions:  What are the perceived pros and cons of these few mandatory theology courses?  What is it that you see from where you are?  What might the rest of us be missing?  What might you be missing?

With what appears to be a lack of transparency on your part, I am left wondering (and so perhaps others as well) what motivates this desire for ‘bold change’ and whether there is some larger agenda at play?  What can and will you do to help us understand what is on the table, and why?  What is the larger vision and in what direction are we headed?  Quo vadis?

If indeed you are working according to some agenda or directive, then I am doubtful that anything I write here will make a difference to a closed mind.  If, however, you are truly seeking to find the best path forward for an institution established on faith, then I hope you might consider the significance and immeasurable benefit that (even small doses of) theology has provided to those who have passed through the halls of ND.

I wonder: If theology were not part of the natural way of life at Notre Dame, would it be possible for a student to miss the opportunity to encounter the beauty of Catholicism?  I admit that I think this likelihood is vanishingly small.  Yet it is possible.  (Even today, as in Jesus’s own time, people turn away from the Son.)  Therefore, wouldn't you agree that it seems more sensible to do everything within our power to reduce this probability rather than maintain or even attempt to increase it?  What is the chance that others not as interested in theology as I was, might on their own also engage and come to appreciate the Church’s perspective on God and creation?  Again, it is possible that a student could discover this beauty by way of the myriad paths on campus, from the architecture and art to campus ministry, from the CSC (Center for Social Concerns) to the various Catholic witnesses within the community (i.e., rectors, professors, priests, brothers, housekeepers, groundskeepers, dining hall workers, other students, and more).  But why not go further and engage the mind of the student (starting, as theology uniquely does, from a position of faith) along with his or her heart?

There is absolutely no reason we should either settle with what we have been or give up something we have held precious for so long.  Instead, we should take advantage of our uniqueness as a Catholic university and be seeking additional ways to make the Catholic tradition accessible — precisely in the natural mode of the university, not in some incidental fashion — to each and every student in concentrated form, not diluted; and be looking outward at the world from within the heart of the Church, rather than looking at the Church from the outside, as is possible at any other university.  

There is and always will be an irreplaceable need for the Catholic university to light the way in a world that continually hungers and thirsts for God; to help each individual student connect with our intellectual tradition of faith — regardless if what is proposed falls on the well-trodden path, on rocky ground, amongst thorns, or on rich soil; and to be a powerful means for doing good in this country.  May Notre Dame always strive to be such a place and community.  Otherwise, to whom else will they go?

With all my heart, and on behalf of my family and friends, I urge you to cherish and further the authentic mission of the Catholic university.

In Notre Dame,

Michael Sena
Class of 2004 and 2006
Echo Faith Formation Leadership Program, Echo 1, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
Proud student of professors J. Cavadini, Rev. J. Jenkins, Rev. E. “Monk” Malloy, and J. McGreevy, not to mention so many others

Meilia West (Architecture)

I came to Notre Dame, raised a Protestant, but living the life of an agnostic at best. I did not find the Introduction to Theology class to be intrusive or offensive, but entered it with the same interest and mental fervor as I did the Introduction to Philosophy required course (one could argue at length about the dynamic relationship of the two requirements together, but I leave that to those more learned than I). I then went on to take my second theology class while studying abroad in Rome (as part of the School of Architecture). The second class (building on the first), coupled with living and breathing the Church's history and Tradition, as well as God acting in my life in a very palpable way, lead to my gradual conversion. First, a conversion of heart, being lead to a simple yet unquenchable thirst to be united with Jesus; and second, being lead to the understanding in both heart and mind, that I could not find the complete Truth anywhere outside the Catholic faith.

In my last year at ND, I completed RCIA, and was received into the Church a few months before graduating. Post-graduation, I went on to work for a year and a half as a Catholic missionary with the Salesian order at an orphanage in Bolivia. My life in the Church is ever-growing, but I look back so fondly on my "required" theology courses from Freshman and Junior year; marveling at how God worked through Our Lady's University, and her curriculum - both in the core curriculum but also in the architecture school - to attract me to Himself.

To whomever might hear my plea, please do not remove Theology from the core curriculum of Notre Dame. I can truly say that my time and education at Notre Dame completely changed my entire being - not just in the challenging classes, first-class resources, and lifelong friends, but in my spiritual growth - a journey begun in an Introduction to Theology course... and book-ended with the gift of a stone-heart become flesh, through the reception of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Thank you for reading; I write you from a grateful heart.

Joe Wolf (Science Pre-Professional and Theology)

When I was choosing where to go to college, most people recommended that I go to one of the Universities that had offered me a substantial scholarship.  As a pre-med student, they believed, that it would not be wise to spend a large sum of money on my undergraduate education when I would also have to pay the substantial tuition charged by medical schools.  Despite this advice, I chose to attend the University of Notre Dame, knowing it would cost substantially more than my other choices.  I chose to come here for many reasons, but the most important to me was the university’s strong Catholic identity which permeated student life on campus. I felt that it would best prepare me to be a doctor capable of making a difference in the world by showing Christ’s love through his work.

As a freshman last year, I began to search for the aspects of campus life most inspired by this identity.  This led me to become involved in the Notre Dame Folk Choir, Notre Dame Vision, and the Center for Social Concerns.  I eventually realized that many of the people I was meeting, the ones who most cultivated the Christian spirit I experienced, were passionate about Notre Dame’s theology department.   At the time, this surprised me, because I was taking my Foundations course, and I honestly did not feel like I was getting a lot out of it.  It provided some great historical and textual analysis of the Bible, but I felt as if the professor kept this analysis separate from the beliefs and greater questions of Catholic faith I was so interested in.

At that point, I was not a theology major, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to become one.  This changed when I took my second theology requirement the following semester.  In this course, I found myself growing more in my faith than ever before.  I was asked difficult questions about life and faith, and I learned a new way of thinking about God, modeled after the words of Saint Augustine “credo ut intelligam.”  “I believe in order to understand.”  This way of thinking which is rooted in faith is different than anything I have ever learned in any of my other courses in high school or college.  It changed the way I thought about God and my own life.  Because of the positive impact this course had on me, I decided to pursue a supplementary major in theology.

Wherever I have felt Notre Dame’s Catholic identity most strongly, I have met people whose faith and inspiration have been profoundly shaped by the theology department.  For all of these people, their experience began with the university’s two required theology courses.  I attended Notre Dame looking for people inspired by faith, who wanted to make a difference in the world; when I found these people, I also discovered the amazing, often life-changing impact of a profound, well-taught theological education.

I believe that Notre Dame fosters a Catholic spirit and identity on campus which nurtures graduates to be prepared to share Christ’s love by changing the world we live in.  I also believe, however, that this would not be the case without the common foundation laid by coursework from the theology department which changes how people think about God and the world in a way that no other academic discipline can.  I hope that our future curriculum continues to inspire students by giving them exposure to the excellent faculty of the theology department, which understands the Catholic faith and its relevance in the lives of all college graduates.

Brian Shappell (Science, MBA)

Notre Dame's New Coke?
The recent passing of Donald Keough, the chair emeritus of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees, reminded me of a valuable lesson he had learned during the tenure of his presidency at Coca-Cola: Be very careful about changing the formula of an iconic brand.  I see a parallel to the current discussion about changing one of the key constituents of our core curriculum, the requirement of two theology courses.
The Notre Dame brand is one of the most valuable brands in higher education.  The Notre Dame brand includes a legendary football team, superior academics, and a dedication to having all who are involved with the University feel like they are part of a family.  But many of the other top 20 universities can, and will, lay claim to the some of the same characteristics for their brand.  We are not unique in these areas.

Where we distinguish ourselves from other top universities is that we are Catholic and that the Catholic faith informs the culture of the University.  Notre Dame’s Catholic character is the one part of our ‘formula’ that the other top 20 universities cannot lay claim to.  Many of the graduates of the University have placed significant value on the lessons taught and learned in the two required theology courses as a foundation of the Catholic character of the University.  The suggestion to alter this part of our formula in the hopes of providing a better ’product’  for future consumers is not a risk we should take lightly.  In fact, I believe it is a risk we should not take at all.