Jesuit Father Michael Sheeran, who served as president of Regis University from 1993 until the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, will become president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in 2013. He recently spoke to the Denver Catholic Register about Catholic higher education.
Fr. Sheeran said one of the greatest challenges Catholic universities will face in the next two decades will be finding the money to pay fair wages to faculty and staff at a time when state and even federal government aid is on the decline. He continued:
“As well, I hope everybody who is interested in forming the human person and not just in the retention of facts will support more government aid to education rather than less. After all, the rationale for government support of education is twofold: First, the preparation of workers the economy will need; second—and much more profound—the preparation of citizens capable of discerning, voting and even of making personal sacrifices to achieve the common good.”
When he left Regis, Fr. Sheeran said he advised his successor, Jesuit Father John Fitzgibbons, to continue to model a Catholic style that flows from the texts of Vatican II.
“It’s a Catholicism that invites rather than gives commands,” said Fr. Sheeran. “It remembers that today’s Catholics are much better educated in secular subjects than ever before in history. They expect to make up their own minds. Our job is to present the Catholic tradition in an attractive, persuasive way so our students can recognize and be drawn to the wisdom of their Catholic heritage.”
As to the advice he’d offer to students, he said, “I like to remind them that God made a good world and then invites us to co-create with him to help the world realize its potential. It’s the graduate’s vocation to take God’s good world and make it better.”
For more from Fr. Sheeran, read the Denver Catholic Register’s “Seven questions for Father Sheeran.”