Members of the St. Thomas community gathered Thursday outside the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas for a ceremonial groundbreaking of construction on the Iversen Center for Faith and renovation of the chapel.

President Julie Sullivan and others marked the occasion by acknowledging the rich history and tradition of the chapel over the past 100 years, and celebrating a future with a revitalized spiritual center of St. Thomas.

“This is a really meaningful celebration for me and many; I’m grateful and humbled you’re part of it. This project is close to my heart. I’m grateful to the people who have worked diligently to make it a reality,” Sullivan said of the first major construction project in her six-year tenure as president. “We are deeply grateful to all of our donors, and truly awed by the generosity of this community that we could raise the funds to complete this project with the scope it deserves.”

More than 200 donors have contributed to the chapel being 100 percent funded by philanthropy, including many generous naming donors: Luigi ’85 and Nicole Bernardi; Mark ’79 and Debra Gregg; Alfred ’50 and Mary Hoedeman; Al and Brenda Iversen; Rory ’86 and Rhonda ’88 O’Neill; the Schoeneckers Foundation; Ron and the late Jean Regan, and Premier Bank; and Catherine ’88 and Peter ’93 Szyman.

“It means so much to me to be able to do this,” Brenda Iversen said. “That young people can walk in here and get to know the Lord, and when they’re feeling they’re finite and things are hard and they don’t know where to turn, they can come here and know the Lord will help them with all that they do.”

Father Larry Blake, Rev. Medhat Yoakiem, Dr. Sadaf Shier and Rabbi Amy Ariel led a prayer for everyone gathered.

“In writing Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II gave us a picture of what a Catholic university should look like: It should provide for the spiritual needs of all its students, no matter what faith they profess,” said Father Larry Snyder, vice president for mission. “As we break ground on the Iversen Center for Faith, we will do just that.”

Members of the St. Thomas community gathered on May 2, 2019, outside the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas for a ceremonial groundbreaking of construction on the Iversen Center for Faith and renovation of the chapel. Vice President for Mission Father Snyder speaks to the audience.

Members of the St. Thomas community gathered on May 2, 2019, outside the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas for a ceremonial groundbreaking of construction on the Iversen Center for Faith and renovation of the chapel. Vice President for Mission Father Snyder speaks to the audience.

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2 Responses

  1. Ali Khabib

    John Murphy,

    Fr. Snyder is referring to the first section of the last article that you cited. Specifically, the first sentence, which reads “A Catholic University is to promote the pastoral care of all members of the university community…” This group of “all members” at the University of St. Thomas includes Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Atheists, etc.

    Fr. Synder is interpreting this passage to mean that the University is obligated to serve the spiritual needs of these students with their own tradition. That is, he believes that JP II thinks that caring for these individuals means presenting to them their false beliefs and confirming them in their error. This, for Fr. Synder, is “pastoral care.” Little does he know, it is not caring to offer or teach false doctrines to anyone. It does not serve their “needs” because no one needs Muhammad and no one needs Buddah. To assert otherwise is clearly heretical. The University is absolutely not obligated to have, for example, a Muslim imam or a Jewish Rabbi on staff (may I point out, that both of these individuals are women, and so represent the most liberal sect of both of their traditions, not unlike the “Catholicism” that the administration of UST follows).

    In short, this is a modernist institution, not a Catholic one. Fr. Snyder’s interpretation of ECE is completely erroneous and ridiculous, and perfectly consistent with the ideology of the University.

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  2. John Murphy

    Excerpt from your article on LinkedIn:

    [ In writing Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II gave us a picture of what a Catholic university should look like: It should provide for the spiritual needs of all its students, no matter what faith they profess,” said Father Larry Snyder, vice president for mission. “As we break ground on the Iversen Center for Faith, we will do just that.” ]

    I just read Ex Corde Ecclesiae and found no reference to such, but rather found overwhelming evidence to the contrary :

    Article 4. The University Community

    § 1. The responsibility for maintaining and strengthening the Catholic identity of the University rests primarily with the University itself. While this responsibility is entrusted principally to university authorities (including, when the positions exist, the Chancellor and/or a Board of Trustees or equivalent body), it is shared in varying degrees by all members of the university community, and therefore calls for the recruitment of adequate university personnel, especially teachers and administrators, who are both willing and able to promote that identity. The identity of a Catholic University is essentially linked to the quality of its teachers and to respect for Catholic doctrine. It is the responsibility of the competent Authority to watch over these two fundamental needs in accordance with what is indicated in Canon Law(49).

    § 2. All teachers and all administrators, at the time of their appointment, are to be informed about the Catholic identity of the Institution and its implications, and about their responsibility to promote, or at least to respect, that identity.

    § 3. In ways appropriate to the different academic disciplines, all Catholic teachers are to be faithful to, and all other teachers are to respect, Catholic doctrine and morals in their research and teaching. In particular, Catholic theologians, aware that they fulfil a mandate received from the Church, are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church as the authentic interpreter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition(50).

    § 4. Those university teachers and administrators who belong to other Churches, ecclesial communities, or religions, as well as those who profess no religious belief, and also all students, are to recognize and respect the distinctive Catholic identity of the University. In order not to endanger the Catholic identity of the University or Institute of Higher Studies, the number of non-Catholic teachers should not be allowed to constitute a majority within the Institution, which is and must remain Catholic.

    § 5. The education of students is to combine academic and professional development with formation in moral and religious principles and the social teachings of the Church; the programme of studies for each of the various professions is to include an appropriate ethical formation in that profession. Courses in Catholic doctrine are to be made available to all students(51).

    Article 5. The Catholic University within the Church

    § 1. Every Catholic University is to maintain communion with the universal Church and the Holy See; it is to be in close communion with the local Church and in particular with the diocesan Bishops of the region or nation in which it is located. In ways consistent with its nature as a University, a Catholic University will contribute to the Church’s work of evangelization.

    § 2. Each Bishop has a responsibility to promote the welfare of the Catholic Universities in his diocese and has the right and duty to watch over the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic character. If problems should arise conceming this Catholic character, the local Bishop is to take the initiatives necessary to resolve the matter, working with the competent university authorities in accordance with established procedures(52) and, if necessary, with the help of the Holy See.

    § 3. Periodically, each Catholic University, to which Artide 3, 1 and 2 refers, is to communicate relevant information about the University and its activities to the competent ecclesiastical Authority. Other Catholic Universities are to communicate this information to the Bishop of the diocese in which the principal seat of the Institution is located.

    Article 6. Pastoral Ministry

    § 1. A Catholic University is to promote the pastoral care of all members of the university community, and to be especially attentive to the spiritual development of those who are Catholics. Priority is to be given to those means which will facilitate the integration of human and professional education with religious values in the light of Catholic doctrine, in order to unite intellectual learning with the religious dimension of life.

    By creating a space under the chapel that provides for and promotes religions contrary to Catholicism you are literally and figuratively undermining the Church

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