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Catholic College and Universities

For these students, Catholic means morality, service and tolerance


What does being Catholic mean at Xavier? For one thing, it means a focus on morality.

Said Deirdre Labat, a Biology professor, “I tell them, ‘The choices you face are far more dangerous and challenging than the ones I faced -- as a scientist and as a young parent. You want a son who’s 6 feet 2 inches with these characteristics? We can do that. You want to be a person whose kids won’t have genetic diseases? Those things are going to become routine.’

“We want to prepare Xavier graduates with the moral capacity -- not tell them what’s right or wrong -- to come to their conclusions in handling these questions. We want our premeds to talk now about how they’re going to handle those questions in the future,” said Labat.

“They’re working in a hospital, and the patient says, ‘I want to abort, I don’t want another girl, I want a boy.’ They need to know they’ve thought about this. The greatest tragedy is to be put into these situations and have to make a decision you’ve never even contemplated.”

Xavier is one-third Catholic. Arts and Sciences dean Harold Vincent is also a Catholic deacon who takes a Wednesday prayer service and preaches once a month at Mass.

Where are Xavier’s students as Catholics?

“Not conservative Catholics like we used to know. They are active Catholics. It’s service more than the liturgy. ... Retreats are very well-attended,” he said.

The students “are also into living their religion,” Vincent said. “They’re active in MAX -- Mobilization at Xavier -- volunteering in the community in many different places.”

As individuals Vincent finds them tolerant, not particularly aware of the bishops’ or the Vatican’s issues -- they don’t voice their opinions on church matters unless asked. Many are probably sexually active, he said. They respect homosexuals as individuals and would not want them forced to change. “They’re more tolerant than I was in my younger days,” he added.

What catches their attention when Vincent preaches? “I end each homily with implications, suggestions as to how you can live what Jesus means by this or that. They listen, they respond, they’ve heard the lesson. I think they go out and try to live it.”

National Catholic Reporter, October 16, 1998