If you want to catch a glimpse of the future of American Catholicism - check out College Station, Texas. It’s home to St. Mary’s Catholic Center at Texas A&M University.
Their program is a great glimpse into the future for two primary reasons. The first is that they are actually winning hearts and minds of young people (not losing them) and churning out passionate, orthodox and educated future leaders of the Church. George Weigel said it well in an excellent article about St. Mary’s Catholic Center:
“The program is unapologetically orthodox. There is no fudging the demands of the faith. And yet they come, and come, and come, because [Texas A&M] Aggie Catholicism shows the campus a dynamic orthodoxy that is not a retreat into the past but a way of seizing the future and bending it in a more humane direction.”
St. Mary’s has also had more seminarians come out of their program in recent times than perhaps any other university system (Catholic universities included). It is also there in College Station where the (now well-known) 40 Days for Life program first began. In other words, they are doing something right.
The other reason they are “winning the future” of American Catholicism is not only because they are successfully orthodox, they’re also impressively organized. They’ve done an outstanding job of not only recruiting the right people from a theological perspective, but in recruiting great organizational leaders that know how to inspire and multiply the limited resources available to them. This is a vital skill sadly lacking in many parishes today.
I actually graduated from Texas A&M and have witnessed all of this at St. Mary’s first-hand. It’s a very special place.
I’ll also note that Texas A&M, a special place in itself, contributes a lot to the success of Texas A&M’s Catholic community. It’s entire educational culture is one that values tradition and unity - over individualism and diversity. It certainly celebrates and values individualism and diversity, too - as we should. But it recognizes something that is often forgotten in our increasingly individual-obsessed culture: That our unity is more important than our diversity and that our lives are about something much greater than ourselves. That is one of the most important lessons I learned from my time at Texas A&M. It’s an important lesson in life and a foundational principle to our Catholic faith. And all of it adds up to St. Mary’s Catholic Center in little, ol’ College Station, TX being a very special place. A place that is winning the future of American Catholicism.
Here’s a recent video some of their students put together: