Canisius College

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Mission Statement

From the College's website (emphasis added):

Founded by the Jesuits in 1870, Canisius College is an independent, co-educational, medium-sized, institution of higher education conducted in the Catholic and Jesuit tradition. It offers undergraduate programs built upon a liberal arts core curriculum, leading to associate and baccalaureate degrees, plus graduate programs in business, education, and other professional fields, leading to the master's degree.

Canisius espouses the ideal of academic excellence along with a sense of responsibility to use one's gifts for the service of others and the benefit of society. It seeks to promote the intellectual and ethical life of its students, helping to prepare them for productive careers as well as for meaningful personal lives and positive contributions to human progress. Its curricular and co-curricular programs are designed to educate the whole person through development of intellectual, moral, spiritual, and social qualities. It aims to promote the contemporary Jesuit mission of the service of faith and the promotion of justice.

As a Catholic institution which welcomes all who share in its quest, Canisius will:

  • foster an atmosphere of understanding and respect in dialog with other intellectual and spiritual traditions;
  • teach the responsible use of human freedom in a value-oriented curriculum and co-curriculum which incorporate concern for spiritual and human factors as well as more pragmatic ones;
  • continue the Jesuit principle of care for individual persons;
  • emphasize excellence in teaching, marked by intellectual vigor, close student-faculty relations, and an expectation of active rather than passive learning;
  • prepare students to assume positions of leadership in church and society;
  • foster a sense of community among its students and staff through personal interaction marked by friendliness, respect, openness and integrity;
  • take advantage of its location in a major urban center on an international border to serve the community and the world, and to play a significant role in fashioning the world of the 21st century by contributing its own special blend of academic excellence, personal concern, and an optimistic commitment to the future.

Approved by the Canisius College Board of Trustees, May 3, 1993.

Questions raised by "Ex corde ecclesiae"

The full document.


"It is the honour and responsibility of a Catholic University to consecrate itself without reserve to the cause of truth" (§ 4).

The Canisius Mission Statement makes no mention of any kind of truth, religious or natural.

"By means of a kind of universal humanism a Catholic University is completely dedicated to the research of all aspects of truth in their essential connection with the supreme Truth, who is God" (§ 4).

The Canisius Mission Statement makes no mention of God.

Nature and Objectives

Since the objective of a Catholic University is to assure in an institutional manner a Christian presence in the university world confronting the great problems of society and culture,[1] every Catholic University, as Catholic, must have the following essential characteristics:

1. a Christian inspiration not only of individuals but of the university community as such;
2. a continuing reflection in the light of the Catholic faith upon the growing treasury of human knowledge, to which it seeks to contribute by its own research;
3. fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church;
Canisius College has no institutional commitment to the truths taught by the Catholic Church.
4. an institutional commitment to the service of the people of God and of the human family in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life."[2] (§ 13)
The "transcendent goal which gives meaning to life" is the Beatific Vision. It us somewhat different from the College's "optimistic commitment to the future."

A Personal Appraisal

I think Canisius College (and most of the other 27 Jesuit Colleges and Universities) are self-referentially inconsistent. We have been building on sand. We wanted to have our cake and eat it, too, by giving up ownership to a secular corporation and hiring exactly as other secular universities do, so that we could receive state and federal funding exactly as other universities do, but remain Catholic and Jesuit.

When push comes to shove, we stand in the courtyard of the High Priest's house with Peter and say of Jesus, "I do not know the man."

We are living in the ruins of a Catholic University. We are trying to keep up the external appearances of a Jesuit and Catholic identity without internally and spiritually identifying ourselves with Jesus. We are no longer Jesuit and Catholic; we are jesuitical universalists.

The house that Jesuits built is falling apart, piece by piece. I don't think it is going to stand.

"Everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined" (Mt 7:26-27).


  1. There is a two-fold notion of culture used in this document: the humanistic and the socio-historical. "The word 'culture' in its general sense indicates all those factors by which man refines and unfolds his manifold spiritual and bodily qualities. It means his effort to bring the world itself under his control by his knowledge and his labor. It includes the fact that by improving customs and institutions he renders social life more human both within the family and in the civic community. Finally, it is a feature of culture that throughout the course of time man expresses, communicates, and conserves in his works great spiritual experiences and desires, so that these may be of advantage to the progress of many, even of the whole human family. Hence it follows that human culture necessarily has a historical and social aspect and that the word 'culture' often takes on a sociological and ethnological sense". Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, n. 53: AAS 58 (1966), p. 1075.
  2. L'Université Catholique dans le monde moderne. Document final du 2ème Congrès des Délégués des Universités Catholiques, Rome, 20-29 November 1972, § 1.