Wendell Berry and Lay communities around Catholic universities
15 October 2022
The choices of Nate, Hannah, and our community expose a tension for the Church’s lay university teachers between the necessity of remaining faithful to local culture and the need to follow the call of Catholic higher education. On the one hand, many (myself included) empathize with Berry’s point. Local communities in America are dying out, a process accelerated by two years of societal isolation. We have a responsibility to the places that formed us; we cannot simply leave them behind, or abandon the first community in which we participated, our parents’ families. Similarly, it seems impractical to suggest that you need to work at a Catholic university to find a good Catholic community and naïve to rely on a community centered around something as volatile as religious higher education.
On the other hand, if we take John Paul II’s argument in Ex Corde seriously that the “future of Catholic Universities depends to a great extent on the competent and dedicated service of lay Catholics,” it is almost impossible to remain in the community you were born in and pursue a life of service in Catholic higher education unless you grew up in a university town and are lucky enough to get a job there after graduate school. Which local culture, then, takes higher priority? The one that you were born into or the one that you find yourself in?
Read all of "The Work of a Catholic University in Local Culture" by John-Paul Heil at Dappled Things.