Religous Diversity New Test for Catholic Colleges

April 13, 2008


Source: Newsday,0,4171059.story

On Mohammed O. Sheikh's first weekend on campus at St. John's University, he did what most new freshmen do. He went to Mass.

The Sunday night service is an annual tradition to welcome students, and for Sheikh, a Muslim whose choice of a Catholic college initially set his parents on edge, the event was fraught with uncertainty.

"I was a little nervous, but it was really eye-opening," the 19-year-old junior said. "I was in a church. At a Catholic Mass. And I felt comfortable."

His experience is hardly unusual -- more than half of St. John's students are not Catholic. Nationally, Catholic universities and colleges are more religiously diverse than ever.

More than half -- 57.5 percent -- of this year's freshmen at four-year Catholic colleges said they were Catholic, compared with 68.6 percent in 1995, according to one national survey.