Among their many and varied ministries, U.S. Spiritans place a great emphasis on education. They work in eight universities, two graduate programs of theological education, five secondary schools, and special educational ministry through Catholic Relief Services. At least 15 Spiritan priests are pursuing full-time graduate studies at American universities.
Spiritans in the U.S. serve in educational administration (at both the secondary and higher education levels), campus ministry and chaplaincy, counseling, and teaching including the University of San Diego, the University of Saint Thomas (Houston), the University of Houston, Texas Southern University (Houston), Notre Dame University (South Bend), Catholic University of America (Washington, DC), Salve Regina University (Providence), and Duquesne University (Pittsburgh).
At Catholic Theological Union (Chicago) and Saint Mary’s Seminary (Houston), Spiritan professors and scholars contribute in the fields of moral theology, biblical studies, and missiology.
Secondary education is the focus of the apostolate for Spiritans at Notre Dame Prep (Scottsdale AZ), Holy Ghost Preparatory School (Bensalem PA) for boys, founded by the Spiritans, has garnered awards for academic excellence, athletics, and co-curricular programs, including recognition as a national Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 1993.
Duquesne University, Pittsburgh PA
A flagship institution of the U.S. Province, Duquesne University was founded in 1878 by the Spiritans as a center for immigrant children in the Pittsburgh area. Begun as a modest secondary school over a bakery in the city of Pittsburgh, the university now serves more than ten thousand (10,000) students, in both graduate and undergraduate programming. Duquesne is one of the top 10 nationally ranked universities in the state of Pennsylvania and among the top 12 Catholic universities in the nation.
As the world’s only Spiritan university, Duquesne is unique. This Spiritan heritage is exemplified by Duquesne’s Mission Statement:
Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit is a Catholic University, founded by members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, the Spiritans, and sustained through a partnership of laity and religious. Duquesne serves God by serving students – through commitment to excellence in liberal and professional education, through profound concern for moral and spiritual values, through the maintenance of an ecumenical atmosphere open to diversity, and through service to the Church, the community, the nation, and the world.
The five goals or “pillars” of the mission – academic excellence, moral and spiritual values, ecumenism, service, and world concerns – present a moral and spiritual framework emphasizing academic freedom and integrity and ethical personal and professional behavior for all members of the Duquesne University community. The commitment inherent in these pillars, and elaborated in the strategic plan, guides all of the work of Duquesne, including hiring and evaluating faculty, recruiting students, developing new programs, instilling a spirit of service, implementing policies and practices, and projecting a unique identity internally and externally.
Twenty-two Spiritans currently live, work, and study at Duquesne University, including one lay Spiritan. They form an international community, with members from Nigeria, Tanzania, Angola, Uganda, Mauritius, Ireland, Scotland, and the United States. The Board of Directors, chaired by a lay President but including six Spiritans, leads the governance body of Duquesne University.
The Middle States Accreditation report for the University, published in 2008, cites the “mission” focus of the University, in its Spiritan identity and mission, as a particular hallmark of the University and its accomplishments. Specific centers and programs at Duquesne in this area include the Campus Ministry department, the Center for Spiritan Studies, the Center for Catholic Social Thought, the Office of Mission and Identity, and many other discrete projects and efforts.
The Strategic Plan for the University (2010-2015) includes a particular emphasis upon Spiritan mission and values – and is impressive in its scope and vision. According to the Plan, an “extraordinary and pervasive sense of mission as a Spiritan Catholic University will be the guide for all Duquesne University does.” A new emphasis on Africa, in concert with the history and missionary emphasis of the Spiritans, including the establishment of an interdisciplinary program in this regard, will soon be instituted.
By James P. McCloskey, C.S.Sp.