Catholic college question

My daughter is not Catholic but is still check out some Catholic colleges. Trying to understand the general difference between Jesuit (BC, Fordham), Augustian (Villanova), LaSallian (Manhattan College), and diocesan (Seton Hall).

Thanks so much

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I can only speak to Jesuit colleges and really only Santa Clara University (but I do think the Jesuit philosophy is at all of their schools). We are not Catholic. My kid was drawn to SCU because of the strong academics there. I have to say, the Jesuits have higher education well thought out, and carried out. In addition, their belief about giving back to the community is woven into the culture of the school and classes. My kid thought this was wonderful. Many are also that medium size…5000 or so undergrads…and that was also appealing to my kid.

She found the Jesuits to be a very ecumenical group. They were welcoming of faiths. Yes there is a religion course requirement but there are 100 at least courses from which to choose…and about all faiths, not just Catholicism.

We thought this Jesuit school hit all the high points…and was well worth attending.


I went into the BC tour expecting not to like it even though I went to a Catholic College (Seton Hall); I don’t love the idea of a religious college for her. I left joking how much I love the Jesuit beliefs if only it wasn’t for religion🤣. But if only they have merit scholarships because we won’t get nearly enough financial aid to afford it and I just don’t see being able to make it possible even if she’s accepted.


I am a huge fan of Jesuit education and I say that as an avowed atheist. The education is solid, they have a strong commitment to service and social justice issues, and I value their foundational belief in cura personalis. I am a Fordham alumna and truly believe that was the absolute best college choice for me, despite not being Catholic.


I can’t speak to Augustinian or diocesan colleges (which may be more or less dogmatic depending on the diocese/bishop), but there are many similarities between Lasallian and Jesuit colleges and universities - I like how this quote summed it up:

“George Van Grieken, F.S.C., the coordinator of Lasallian research and resources at the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in Rome, also says the Jesuit and Lasallian charisms are similar when it comes to ideas about education. But there are some notable differences. The Rule the Christian Brothers live by is specifically focused on education, and because they are not ordained priests, they do not practice sacramental ministry but instead dedicate themselves fully to education. While education is also a significant focus of Jesuit ministry, Jesuits are engaged in every imaginable field of work, whereas every Lasallian is first and foremost an educator.”

I like to say that the Lasallians are Jesuits with a heart for the poor - in my experience (mom of kids @ Lasallian schools) their focus is much more on the underserved, especially at the university level, than the Jesuits (with all due respect to their excellent schools). So, you’re likely to find a larger socio-economic spread at many Lasallian schools (along with greater levels of FA for those that need it). In our experience this has been a big plus.

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This doesn’t address your question specifically but my non-Catholic daughter is attending a Catholic university. We’re not even Christian actually.

Her school is DePaul which is Vincentian–they are all about service which we love. She’s a sophomore and loves DePaul in general.

She was also admitted to Gonzaga and Saint Louis University, which are both Jesuit. I loved the Jesuit philosophy but neither I or my daughter vibed with the people we met at these schools. Both schools were very white (we are as well), and seemed to draw lots of kids from Catholic high schools.

So I guess my point is that while the religious order of each school matters, it’s really the overall vibe/fit of each school that matters more. We know a non-Catholic at BC–he loves it. We knew another non-Catholic at Fordham–she left after one year.

It was interesting exploring these schools, being non-religious myself.


I went to Jesuit schools for both undergrad and grad. One thing I liked in undergrad is that you could be as religious (or not) as you wanted to be – there were tons of opportunities to participate in a religious community, but also plenty of secular things to do. It was actually my mandatory religion class that helped me realize I was an atheist.

I also liked that there were Jesuit priests living in the residence halls, who were available for students who wanted to seek their counsel. I never really took advantage of the opportunity, but I think it was a nice thing to have available.

We’ve raised our kids as agnostics/atheists, but I would feel comfortable sending them to Jesuit schools if they wanted to go. However, C24 wants nothing to do with any religious school.

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The priest in my freshman year dorm was a certain Father Bermingham who had taught a young William Peter Blatty when the latter was a high school student and, when the author was doing research for the Exorcist, called upon his former teacher as a consultant because, turns out, Father Bermingham had in fact performed at least one exorcism. He even has a small role in the film version. Every Halloween, he would host a film screening of the movie and talk about his personal experiences with exorcisms and I tell ya what, even as an atheist who does not believe in demonic possession, it scared the bejeezus out of me. Father O’Malley, who is in the movie - he was the piano playing priest, was also a Fordham Jesuit and would host similar screenings each Halloween to talk about his experiences on the film set.

Interestingly enough, following this, I ended doing an MA at Georgetown, so I got the full Exorcist experience - I even had a class that would regularly meet in the bar featured in the movie :slight_smile: