There are approximately 230 Catholic Colleges and Universities in the United States, the first of which – Georgetown University – was founded in 1789. At last official count, 787,574 young Catholic women and men from all across the country were enrolled in these institutions of higher learning. Unlike Catholic elementary and secondary schools, the overwhelming majority of these are independent of any formal ties to the Catholic Church. They depend upon tuition, grants and the generosity of alumni or other benefactors for their survival. Needless to say, all of them look for financial support from those who believe in their Catholic mission.
The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., was founded in 1887 by the bishops of the United States to be the “national university of the Church in our country” – a place where the Church does its thinking. It is the only papally chartered university in the nation. Pope Leo XIII approved its establishment on the proviso that the bishops and dioceses of the United States would support it annually. Hence, the creation of the special collection for CUA each year, that continues to the present moment.
I know as a former, longtime president there that CUA struggles mightily to do its great work for the Church. Without this collection, CUA would be hard-pressed to support itself, given its unique nature and purpose, even among other Catholic colleges and universities. Our Diocese sends one of the largest diocesan groups of Catholic students in the whole country to CUA. As a CUA alumnus, as its former president and, now, as your Bishop, I invite you to be generous to CUA in the annual collection taken up in the parishes of our Diocese this weekend, September 13-14. The university, its students and its Catholic research depend upon your gift. Thank you.