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Catholicism or ‘Careerism’

Michael Kramm | Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Recently, I picked up the Sept. 12, 2013, edition of the Irish Rover and spotted an editorial by Michael Bradley called, “What is Notre Dame really like?” Bradley argues that Notre Dame, from the administration to the student body, has fallen into “Careerism,” and is striving to compete with secular institutions like the Ivies, Duke, Stanford and Northwestern, which is hurting its Catholic community.  
According to the editorial, “Notre Dame won’t be able to be tops at both endeavors; it will have to commit to one at the expense of fully realizing the other.” This misses the mark completely. The first line of Notre Dame’s mission statement labels this university as a “Catholic academic community of higher learning.” Nowhere in this is the academic community downplayed to favor the Catholic community. Notre Dame is primarily a place of higher learning that was founded upon Catholic principles.  
If we are willing “to ‘lag behind’ in those metrics of success that are only fully realized through the establishment of an academic environment inimical to authentic discernment and spiritual formation,” like the author hopes, then we are essentially going to Church. Hoping Notre Dame “lags behind” academically misses the purpose of this fine University.
I disagree with the author’s opinion that there is something wrong with people that seek solid careers. He uses the term “Careerism” to describe the apparent problem at Notre Dame that hurts the University’s Catholic foundation. I think Bradley is off the mark once again as he assumes there is something wrong with seeking a career for money. This is not being “ignorant or indifferent to the concept of personal vocation.” The author fails to realize it is okay to be here for the degree, for the Catholic community and education, or for both. Many students come here to escape economic hardship by obtaining a degree and a career in which they have a high earning potential.  
Many of the countless Notre Dame alumni that obtained extremely high-paying careers created opportunities for future generations and for the less fortunate. Did they detract from Notre Dame’s Catholic foundation, or did they use Notre Dame’s resources to better society?
There is nothing wrong with coming to this school with the goal of obtaining a high-paying career. People need to provide for future families, donate to charitable causes and provide opportunities for future generations. There are more ways to ‘do good’ than by solely focusing on Catholicism at Notre Dame. Focusing on a high-paying career while still maintaining Catholic values is a terrific way to better the world around us and should not be looked down upon as hurting Notre Dame.

Contact Michael Kramm at mkramm@nd.edu
    The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.