Catholic Center programs around inclusivity and education


Josh Jessimen | Photography Editor

Alexander Goessler came to speak at the Catholic Center, on Feb. 7 in a lecture entitled, “Serving the Poor: Human Dignity & Beauty”

This spring, leaders at the Tulane Catholic Center say they hope to engage students in intellectual thought and religious inquiry.

The center has helped bring a number of speakers to campus in the past year and is continuing to bring more this spring.

On March 14, Catholic artist Cameron Smith will be giving a talk called “Beauty Unveiled: Regaining the Ability to See the Beautiful.” The following week, on March 21, Professor William Jaworski of Fordham University will be presenting a lecture called “Neuroscience and the Soul.”

Jaworski is sponsored by the Thomistic Institute, a Catholic institution that has chapters on many secular campuses across the nation.

“The intent [of the institute] is to bring high caliber intellectual talks that also presents to college students the Catholic intellectual tradition,” Thomas Schaefgen, chaplain and director of the Catholic Center, said. “One of the reasons for the existence of the institute is to really fight the idea the religion is against science, that religion is against intellectual pursuits, rationality and thought itself,” Schaefgen said. “The idea that if you are a person of faith you must surrender your capacity to think about things critically is not true, at least from a Catholic perspective.”

Open to people of all faiths and beliefs, the Center offers many other ways to get involved. These include mass held every Sunday, with dinner afterward.

The Center also has various retreats throughout the year. The upcoming Silence Retreat is a retreat during which participants do not speak for the entirety of the weekend and reflect upon speakers who present at the conference.

The Center hopes to play an important role in the lives of students at Tulane, despite the secular standing of the university.

“There is definitely a stigma of being religious on campus, especially on a secular campus. That comes along with the fears of being judged,” Schaefgen said.  

The Center aims to cater not only to students who are already practicing Catholicism, but also those who have never had any experience with the Catholic Church.

“The thing there is to recognize that anybody is welcome here,” Schaefgen said.

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