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HC values examined

Liz Harter | Monday, April 28, 2008

Saint Mary’s College president Carol Ann Mooney invited University president Fr. John Jenkins and Holy Cross College president Brother Richard Gilman to discuss the values and traditions of a Holy Cross education in a public meeting Friday.

Moderated by vice president for College relations Shari Rodriguez, the three presidents spoke of the first time they encountered Holy Cross educators, the beatification of Blessed Basil Moreau and the benefits of a Holy Cross education.

All three said they try to apply Moreau’s words “the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart” from his book “Christian Pedagogy” to their own institutions.

“What we’re trying to do as a Holy Cross institution is having a seamless environment,” Gilman said. “Learning doesn’t just take place in the classroom.”

Gilman said Holy Cross College Board of Trustees recently approved a new strategic plan that takes Moreau’s writings into account.

“Having reflected on some of the things Moreau said … [education is] really a holistic thing,” he said. “The strategic planning that we’ve adopted really looked on the Holy Cross education that we are offering as a 10 year education not a four year education.”

Gilman said Holy Cross College will try to make contact with potential students two years before they enter the institution and continue that contact for around four years after they graduate to emphasize the fact that education takes place outside of classrooms and outside of school.

Jenkins agreed with Gilman’s ideas that the teaching of Moreau’s words does not occur solely in the classroom.

“The education of mind and heart is so central, it’s really the most central thing to Holy Cross education, I feel,” Jenkins said. “The principles that are articulated [in Moreau’s writings] are present in the lives … of those at these institutions.”

Mooney agreed with her colleagues, saying while the mind is educated at Saint Mary’s, but the heart is not forgotten.

She said when Pope Benedict XVI spoke to Catholic educators when he visited America last week, he said something which has resonated with her since – “Those who hear the gospel should as a result live differently.”

“I don’t think when I graduated from [the College] in 1972 I realized the impact Saint Mary’s would have on how differently I would live because of [the gospel],” she said. “I saw this over the years in my classmates, I saw the difference in their lives.”

She said a Holy Cross education isn’t about just telling people how to live, but leading by example.

“It’s not so much what we say but what we inspire,” she said. “I think we do teach the mind and the heart but the proof is much more in the outcome.”

Jenkins said Moreau would feel comfortable on the campuses if he were to have lived today.

“I think he was a very pious person, a very determined person … but a person open to the world,” he said. “He could have sat in that little corner of France and done great but he simply thought of America. He embraced the future.”

Mooney agreed with Jenkins saying Moreau was an innovative educator.

“[Moreau said] we have nothing to fear from knowledge. It is essential to the development of human civilizations … and in fact to the development of a mature faith,” she said. “I think that has characterized Holy Cross higher institutions specifically… the ability to examine ideas from a variety of perspectives because we’re not afraid of engaging the world.”