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BY JOSEPH PRONECHEN, REGISTER STAFF WRITER
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The College of Our Lady of Corpus Christi in the Texas city of the same name has decided to discontinue its undergraduate program for lay students. But the lights are not completely out.
“We’re not going to vanish,” said Father James Kelleher of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Father Kelleher is the founding president of the college.
Serving fewer than 20 undergraduates last year, the college opened in 1998 with a liberal arts program attended by both seminarians of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity and lay students.
The college was non-accredited. But it had developed relationships with accredited institutions for its undergraduate seminarians and lay students.
“We made a deal with the University of St. Thomas (in Houston) for them to hire our professors to teach their courses on our campus, thus making the courses accredited,” Father Kelleher said. “The University of St. Thomas was willing to help us in trying to become a satellite.”
Prior to that, Our Lady of Corpus Christi had its own professors, taught its own courses and had an agreement with the Angelicum University in Rome to accept the seminarians after two years of study at OLCC. There was a separate agreement with Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, so that lay students could transfer after their third year at Our Lady of Corpus Christi to Franciscan to receive an accredited degree.
Still, the college decided at the end of this spring semester to discontinue lay undergraduate studies.
“The major reason was financial,” Father Kelleher explained. “In this economy it is hard raising the huge amounts of money for scholarships and to pay the bills. Our agreement with St. Thomas was that we would add 30 new students this year, and they would have to have significant scholarships. But benefactors aren’t giving like they were prior to this economy.”
Nevertheless, the college will continue teaching two years of philosophy to seminarians for the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity before they go on to the Angelicum.
There will also be adult education courses for directors of religious education and interested lay people — plus retreats on campus.
Father Kelleher also speaks enthusiastically about the campus’ beautiful perpetual adoration chapel, built seven years ago in the Spanish Colonial style with a 75-foot blue dome with gold stars. At the heart of the campus, it is now reaching out beyond the college.
Said Father Kelleher, “We’re promoting Eucharistic adoration throughout the Corpus Christi Diocese.”
Staff writer Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.