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Catholicism Confounds New SHU Students

Seton Hill University (SHU) had its first church service of the semester, Opening Liturgy, in St. Joseph’s Chapel, Thursday Sept. 9. To some students, Catholic mass can be unfamiliar if they’re used to a free-form worship style. Much of their wariness comes from a lack of understanding.

“I just don’t get the rituals. I don’t understand why they pray to Mary either,” freshmen Daryle Gracey said.

“I felt extremely uncomfortable at the liturgy. It’s just not what I’m used to. I mean, what’s the deal with Mary’s birthday?” asked freshmen Brittney Shunk.

When asked if they would return for other services they declined saying they would feel “left out” during communion. They plan to find answers to their questions in the required religion class, which is opposed by some students.

“If Seton Hill "welcomes and respects the faith traditions of all students and provides faith-sharing opportunities" then why am I, as an agnostic, required to take a religious studies class? I am basically being forced, against my own beliefs to take this class, or not graduate. Yeah, that's really welcoming and respecting my beliefs,” wrote Louis Gagliardi on his blog.

"You have to keep in mind that this is a private, Catholic university. They have every right to ask every student to take a religion course, because all of the students who attend this school understand that this isn't a state institution,” said Michael Rubino.

SHU prides itself on its Judeo-Christian traditions and Catholic heritage. The principles of the Sisters of Charity are part of the academic curriculum (or Catholic Social Teaching).

Campus Ministry, which gives students the chance to participate in worship and community service, is another part of the religious atmosphere.

“I think campus ministry presents a good body of Christians on campus. It makes them visible, and provides an outlet for those who feel sort of cornered to shy about their religious beliefs. Without campus ministry, I don't think people would make the time to participate in such activities away from home,” said Rubino.

“It's a good influence on the campus. I like the fact that they are approachable, not too distant from the student population, and open to suggestions,” said freshmen Mary Tietjen.

2 Comments

The article raises some interesting questions. Kudos for noting that students can bring up their questions in the required religion class -- and a great transition to that topic.

Though there isn't a positive comment until the sixth paragraph, which lends a negative slant to the article. In fact, if an editor chopped off the two positive quotations at the end of the article, you'd be left with five negative paragraphs, one positive paragraph, and two neutral paragraphs.

If you had a quotation from Fr. Honeygosky (who celebrated this mass), or had one of the sisters or a theology teacher respond to the questions about Mary, that would be a great service to readers who would really like to know the answer.

This is a pretty bold topic to be writing about and I commend you for taking such action. I myself was very skeptical about taking the required Faith, Religion and Society course last year. Initially I felt like SHU was forcing its Catholic beliefs onto me, a person that had never formally attended any church other than for weddings and funerals.

My parents raised me 'non-religious' so to speak and I was really nervous about taking this class. I actually didn't know what to expect but in the end it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I had a lot of fun in there and realized that it wasn't a class trying to convert students to Catholicism but rather a place for students to come together and promote religious tolerance.

I learned about much more than the Catholics and in fact they were not touched upon that grealty at all. The focus for me was on realizing how similar rather than different all religions really are.

Kayla..Your article was very well written, but as Jerz indicated it did seem some what one sided in nature. Keep up the good work. I enjoyed your quoted sources.

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