Catholic Intellectual Tradition

  • Catholic Intellectual Tradition at Carlow University - Interior shot of St. Agnes Center a PHLF Landmark

    The Mission and Identity of Carlow University as a Catholic Institution of Higher Education has its deep roots in Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

    Catholic Intellectual Tradition rises out of the Catholic Church's understanding that nature and history hold the potential to reveal God, or more precisely, that God is revealed in and through every element of nature and in the events and planning of history. Because of this fundamental belief, experiment and research, scholarship and artistic expression, teaching and learning, reflection and service are seen as ways in which we come to know the breadth and depth of God's presence and revelation in the world. One author uses the phrase "sacramental beholders"(1) to describe this approach to Catholic Intellectual Tradition. The term "sacramental" refers to a visible reality that reveals a deeper, invisible reality. By beholding nature and history as "sacramental," that is, as holding the potential to reveal God, Catholic institutions of higher education engage in a process of revelation and discovery of the way God's presence unfolds deep truth in nature and justice in history, all of this in an on going search for what is true, what is good, and how justice comes about.

    Carlow's foundation in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition is enhanced by the charism and mission of its founders', the Sisters of Mercy.  Because of the deplorable situation of women and young girls in 19th century Catherine McAuley's focus was primarily on women and so Carlow was established as an institution primarily for women.  However Catherine McAuley also encouraged the Sisters to readily respond to the next great need.  In the 21st century one of those needs has been to broaden the awareness of exploring the potential of God's revelation through the lenses of the unique experiences of women, men, and children.  All of this provides a firm foundation for a spirit of hospitality and discovery in the sacredness of the fullness of Creation.


     1 Michael Himes, as quoted in The Catholic Intellectual Tradition: Some characteristics, implications and future directions, by Anthony J. Cernera and Oliver J. Morgan, in Examining the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, edit. Anthony J. Cernera and Oliver J. Morgan, Fairfield, CN: Sacred Heart University Press, 2000 (204)