With seven children and a single income from a Catholic non-profit, Jennifer and Douglas Alles didn’t know how they would face the rising costs of higher education: Over the past six years, college costs have nearly doubled.
two oldest sons are in college now. Nathaniel is a senior at Franciscan
University of Steubenville in
How to pay for their kids’ noble academic aspirations?
Enter a small Catholic retailer on the grow.
Last year one Seth Murray, owner
of The Rosary Shop in
The mandatum, which is required of all teachers of Catholic theology in any institute of higher learning, states that professors will teach authentic Catholic doctrine and refrain from advancing anything as Church teaching that is contrary to the Church’s magisterium.
“We’ve been in business for 10 years,” explains Murray, who owns and operates the store with his wife, Tyra. “This is the first time we’ve had a profit worth measuring. We wanted to do something to promote Catholic education.”
Their business’ parent
organization, Simple Way Limited Partnership and Lay Apostolate
(prayer.rosaryshop.com), started in 1996, is structured to support “the laity
in their mission to be transformed by Christ and to transform the world.” It is
Catholic converts to the faith
from the Church of the Nazarene in 1994, the
“For so many adult Catholics,
their theological formation ended when they were confirmed,” says
In setting up the scholarship, the
“The closest one can come to knowing whether someone is receiving that or not would be the mandatum or oath of fidelity, some statement by the teacher that they intend to teach the authentic faith,” says Murray. “We see that as truth in advertising and want to support that.”
One of the requirements of the scholarship application is securing a signed letter from the chair of the selected school’s theology department stating that the school supports the mandatum.
The letter states: “I confirm
that, as of the date of signing, all teaching faculty from the department of
theology have taken the Oath of Fidelity and/or have
received the mandatum from the local bishop.”
That led to some extra work for Patrick Alles. He originally planned to attend Franciscan and had secured a letter from the dean there. Late in the process, though, Alles switched to Benedictine.
“I felt I was called to go to Benedictine,” says Alles. “The environment provides the opportunity for ministry.”
Alles had to scramble to secure a
letter from Benedictine, a process that led to a discovery by
Patrick’s mother, Jennifer, discovered the scholarship while doing an online search for Catholic scholarships.
“I happened upon it and encouraged Patrick to apply for it. I felt he had a good chance,” says Jennifer. “No matter how well formed children are at home, they are going to be formed at college, so it was essential to us that he not have to sit through classes where theology was being mangled.”
Alles says the mandatum
was a key determiner in their choice of schools. Along with
“If the school has gone through the trouble of getting the mandatum, you know that they care about passing along authentic Catholic teaching,” says Jennifer. “Having the mandatum helps ensure their educational integrity and suggests that the kind of students going there are likely to be more interested in the faith.”
Majoring in Discipleship
The scholarship also requires an essay on the role of the laity in the modern world and how the recipient’s chosen major relates to that role.
Patrick Alles wrote about the role of the laity as it relates to Christ.
“Christ came to embody how we can be most fully human,” he says. “Each of us is called by God to live out the role that Christ lived out as priest, prophet and king.”
Several students applied for the
inaugural year of the scholarship. In the end, the
Patrick Alles is thankful for the aid.
“I come from a big family. There are other kids after me who will need to go to school,” he told the Register. “Getting money for college is important for my family. It’s important that I received the scholarship. I’m humbled that instead of putting all their money back into their shop, they would give it to a student.”
“Perhaps this will spur other
people to do the same thing,” says
Senior writer Tim Drake
is based in