This is crazy!
FOCUS missionary Ethan Stueve recently tweeted about an amazing story: in the 1970s there used to be a humanities program at the University of Kansas that got shut down because too many of its students were converting to Catholicism.
Here’s the story:
Three professors, Dr. Dennis Quinn, Dr. John Senior, and Dr. Frank Nelick, ran a program called the Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas from 1970 to 1979. A “great books” program that started with the ancient Greeks and led students on a journey up to the present, the motto was Nascantur in Admiratione, translated “Let Them Be Born in Wonder.”
“Students weren’t allowed to take notes, although the professors didn’t mind if they knitted,” Dana Lorelle wrote about the program. “They taught students the state song of Kansas, took them star gazing, spoke Latin out loud and introduced the freshmen and sophomores to classic literature and poetry. […]
“The professors, noticing that the students had no skill in formal ballroom dancing, organized an annual waltz. They took students to Ireland and Greece. They told stories, required the students to memorize poems and spoke of callings rather than careers.”
The program grew super fast, from 20 students in 1970 to 140 in 1971, and 186 in 1972.
But then the conversions started happening. By one estimate, over the 10 year course of the program, more than 100 students decided to join the Catholic Church.
Alums of the program include: Archbishop Paul Coakley of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, Bishop James Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln, Dom Philip Anderson, abbot of Our Lady Of The Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey, and Dr. Robert Carlson, one of the three founders of Wyoming Catholic College.
As to why the program led so many young people to the Church, Archbishop Coakley has said, “You put people in touch with the true, the beautiful and the good and let the Holy Spirit work.”
Under mounting pressure from both parents and other professors, the university launched an investigation to see if the professors were illegally proselytizing in their capacities as public university professors.
And even though the investigating committee found “no evidence that the professors of the program have engaged in such activities in the classroom,” the university decided to shut down the program anyway.
Of course, all of this raises a question: if three professors at a state school were able to do this… then what are we doing at our Catholic universities?