November 26, 2006

A Non-PC Post

This is not going to be a "politically correct" post.

Gentle Reader: As you know I attended the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN. St. Kate's (as it's abbreviated) is a women's college that is supposedly Catholic. It's a women's college but I'm going to go on the public record right now and say it's not Catholic. I was a Theology minor and I attended such "Catholic" courses as Feminist Spirituality and Christian Sacramentality.

I was so poorly catechized before I got to St. Kate's that I thought the street-clothed Sisters were cool and authoritative when they talked about labyrinths, goddesses, women priests and liberation theology. I was about 1/2 way through my course in Christian Sacramentality when I suddenly stumbled upon a book by Peter Abelard and realized: "Hey, wait a minute, the sacraments in this class are CATHOLIC Sacraments" I wondered why the course was not actually called Catholic Sacramentality rather then Christian.

All the courses at St. Kate's are designed to offend as few people as possible by being as generic as possible. In many of my classes I was the only woman who identified herself as Catholic. In my Feminist Spirituality class I got to learn how the Chapel on the campus is designed like the female sex organ. I'm not making this up.

I don't remember seeing any crucifixes in any of the class rooms or buildings. I was an English major and I was one of the last classes to be taught by some nuns in the English program. The Theology Dept. was almost entirely laypeople. I look at the English teachers list now and it's almost all laypeople. 20 years later, some of the same people are still in the Theology and English departments. I have no illusions things have changed for the better in 20 years with the same folks on the faculty.

Why, in spite of all this nonsense, is St. Catherine (Alexandria) the patron saint of my alma mater my patron saint? I loved going to college at St. Kate's. I was picked on in public school most of my life. My parents were big proponents of "turn the other cheek". A lesson I learned well. Naturally, I was a frequent target of bullying and ridicule. My self-confidence was just about zero when I was looking for colleges to attend.

The single-sex environment of St. Kate's really helped me build up my confidence. I became, and still am, a big proponent of single sex education. I don't advocate single sex education for everyone. But, for some people, like me, it can help the learning and confidence processes tremendously. I would not have had the "nerve" to start this blog without it.

However, in my experience, some people want single sex education only one way: females only education is fine but male only education is bad. Why? Because, some radical femmes want in. But, woe to the man who wants to enroll in the female only institution.

I have no problem with male only institutions. I love my brothers in Christ. But, I did not want to see them in my college. If men want to have their own clubs, high schools, prep schools, colleges, sports teams. I have no problem with that. There are instances where people feel more comfortable and do better with their own kind.

I also have no problem with single race institutions. My family is partially Native American and I know from experience that some Natives learn and perform much better surrounded by their own people. Many tribes run their own tribal colleges and in Minneapolis there are several public schools that are almost completely Native American because they are located in predominantly Native American neighborhoods.

I am by no means suggesting that single sex and single race education be FORCED upon people. I am just saying, from my personal experience, that I believe that for certain people at certain times in their lives being surrounded by similar genders or peoples can be helpful. Parents and the individual in question know best.

Some individuals do just fine in co-ed and mixed race institutions. I think it's fantastic that they do well since that is clearly a greater image of our society. However, some people need the security of their own kind in order to flourish.

St. Catherine of Alexandria was a learned woman and a strong woman. She defended the Faith to a gruesome death. Alexandria was the home of one of the greatest libraries in the ancient world. I'm a librarian. As a woman, as a Catholic woman, I try to be a strong woman, a confident woman, and a defender of the Faith. Without my stint at St. Kate's I'm not sure I'd have all the confidence it takes to even try to be all those things.

St. Catherine of Alexandria Pray for Us.


Blogger Geometricus said...

WOW -- my wife attended St. Kates, about 25 years ago, and she claims it was not quite THAT bad then. She was disgusted that they told you the chapel was shaped like the female sex organ...I guess she was lucky enough not to have to sit under certain nuns. But that does not mean she thought it was orthodox or good, and we certainly would not send our own girls there (we have three). She went there to become an elementary educator. When she gets any alumni literature from them, she throws it away, usally without looking at it. Among her worst stories is the time her German prof had a movie night, inviting local high school German students to join in...but he showed a movie my wife described as pornography, probably typical European cinema.

November 26, 2006 4:16 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

geometricus: Your wife and I were probably there about the same time. The person who "taught" us about the chapel was a layperson.

November 26, 2006 4:48 PM  
Anonymous katie said...

Dear Cathy,
I had to laugh about your comments about St. Kate's. I went to Mass on Saturday morning at the lovely little Church of St John's of Saint Paul. Father Welzbacher gave a short homily on St. Catherine of Alexandria. I did not know she was a patron of librarians. I am a librarian too! Father Welzbacher also (very gently) said that the College of Saint Catherine was name for this Saint but that the College has gone far from its Catholic roots. After Mass I went to Leaflet Missal and purchased among other things, a Saint Catherine of Alexandria holy card to keep at my desk. Have a good rest of the day.




November 26, 2006 5:29 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Good post on single-sex education, Cathy.

Lots of parents should read that one.

My niece went to St Ben's (she was raised Lutheran, so I am thankful at least for that). They are tied in tightly with St John's. Remind me to ask her at Christmas how many single sex classes she had. She will be graduating as a nurse next June.

November 26, 2006 6:50 PM  
Blogger Adoro Te Devote said...

My cousin graduated from St. Kate's, and she seems to have swallowed their agenda hook, line, and sinker. Unfortunately, her husband, a grad of who-knows-where, is a Catholic Youth Minister and together, they believe in women's ordination, feminism, etc. I remember my cousin (who was also my Confirmation sponsor), commenting that she "loves" the Sisters at St. Kate's...and where she lives and where her husband works now in Madison, they "love" the "Sisters", who happen to be Dominican feminazis.

In the short conversations I've had with them and the longer ones I've heard of from other family members, I've gleaned that St. Kate's did nothing to assist my cousin in embracing authentic Catholicism.

Someday I hope to get the whole story. For now, I'm entrusting them to the Saints and to Divine well as the Sisters at St. Kate's. How sad that they are in such need of was their call to convert US!

They have failed Jesus miserably. May the Lord have mercy on them.

November 26, 2006 7:19 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

katie: I wish I'd been there at St. John's. Fr. Welzbacher always gives a good homily and I would have enjoyed hearing that one!

Adoro: I have a 2nd cousin currently at St. Kate's. I have not spoken to her for awhile but I wonder what kind of garbage she's being fed. She is a Catholic. When I see her next I plan to quiz her and refute as much damage as I can.

November 26, 2006 8:03 PM  
Blogger Angela Messenger said...

Cathy - great post all around.

And you must satisfy my curiosity - how exactly would a chapel be shaped like a, know....

November 26, 2006 9:24 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

angela: I'll try and find a reference to this blasphemy and post it.

November 27, 2006 7:44 AM  
Blogger Angela Messenger said...


November 27, 2006 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Joe Soucheray said its time to "blow up St. Kate's and make it a golf course." Its too far gone.

November 27, 2006 4:57 PM  
Blogger :o) said...

I'm also an alum from St.Kate - hotbed of Wicca, according to my Dad. He was so afraid I'd swallow all the garbage they spew.

I throw away all the lit from them, too. I have told them not to contact me ever for any fund raising as I do not consider them a Catholic college.

November 27, 2006 6:10 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

I find myself throwing away all of their alumna materials too. Especially, when I see anything touting the Wisdom Ways Center.

I would like to see St. Kate's be a truly Catholic women's college again. They have a lot of land, a convent, the buildings and infrastructure. I doubt it would be the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet that would turn it around. They are not encouraging vocations to their order. A different order would have to take it over (maybe the Nashville Dominicans?).

Or, if not an order of sisters, perhaps a lay group of women with a strong interest in true Catholicism.

November 28, 2006 7:24 AM  

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