Sister Ross’ Legacy

SEATTLE TIMES, Oct. 29 — Sister Kathleen Ross is making a big difference in the lives of disadvantaged minority students in Washington state.

Sister Ross has served as president of Heritage University in Toppenish, Wash., since it was founded 25 years ago.

The college, with an enrollment of less than 2,000, has the highest proportion of minority and low-income undergraduates in the state. Some 53% are Hispanic, while 11% are American Indians. And 90% of undergraduates qualify for federal financial aid.

“The university defies categorization,” the Seattle Times said about Heritage. “Although it’s private, its philosophy and tuition resemble that of a public university. It’s within the Yakama Nation reservation yet is managed independently from the tribe, an arrangement unique in the U.S. It’s nondenominational but is run by a Roman Catholic nun — a woman who won a $335,000 MacArthur Foundation genius grant, then gave the money to students through scholarships and other programs.”

And Sister Ross continues to support her school with her own checkbook: She donates all but $15,000 of her annual $143,000 salary to Heritage, making her one of the university’s biggest donors.

Religious Revival

THE GEORGETOWN HOYA, Oct. 31 — Georgetown students are sharing in a national trend toward greater religious interest on campus.

A study in the October 2006 issue of the Journal of College and Character reported that U.S. college students are becoming more engaged spiritually.

According to Jesuit Father Timothy Godfrey, Georgetown’s director of campus ministry, the trend can be seen among the university’s Catholic students in rising attendance rates at Mass and confession and increased membership in the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Daughters.

Non-Catholic chaplains on campus also see a renewed interest in faith.

“If you look at the participant in Masses or … in Muslim services, without doubt, you see an increased participation,” Georgetown’s Muslim chaplain, Yahya Hendi, told the Hoya. “I have seen more questions about religion in the last year than I have in the last three years.”

Pernicious Play

ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, Nov. 3 — Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has joined with Minnesota’s other Catholic bishops in asking University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks to reconsider the staging of an anti-Catholic play.

“The Pope and the Witch,” a satire that depicts the Pope as a paranoid drug addict, is slated to be staged at the university next March.

Archbishop Flynn met with Bruininks Nov. 1 to discuss the play and other issues.

Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, told the Pioneer Press that the state’s bishops “have to stand up for the faith.”

Said McGrath, “They can’t be silent in a case like this and won’t be.”

Legal Smarts

AVE MARIA SCHOOL OF LAW, Nov. 3 — For the third time in the last four years, Ave Maria School of Law graduates have earned top marks on the Michigan Bar exam.

Ninety-six percent of Ave Maria graduates who took the bar exam for the first time in July 2006 passed, the best rate of any law school in the state. In 2003 and 2004, Ave Maria grads earned top passage rates of 93% and 100%.

The 2005 class placed second statewide with 86%.