Catholic college gains new name and renewed purpose

The former Magdalen College in Warner, New Hampshire, announced a new name, an enhanced core curriculum and other initiatives on October 16 to emphasize its commitment to what Pope John Paul II called the “New Evangelization” of Western countries. President Jeffrey J. Karls announced the new name, The College of Saint Mary Magdalen, in honor of one of the first saints and apostles of Christendom. “Her apostolic mission of bringing the good news to others—and carrying out evangelization in such a way that a relationship between faith and life is clearly established—remains the primary mission of The College of Saint Mary Magdalen,” Karls said. St Mary Magdalen is often identified with the woman in the Gospel who was saved by Jesus after being condemned to death by stoning. 

Karls also announced changes to the liberal arts curriculum, which is the same for all students and carefully integrates the great texts of Western civilization with Catholic doctrine and theology. While the college already provides the Vatican’s Apostolic Catechetical Diploma for all undergraduates—it will now provide online courses and added depth to required studies in theology, philosophy and the humanities.

For instance, in addition to the former emphasis on ancient Greece and modernity, the College has added studies of Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Post-Modernity. The College’s unique programs in music and art—required for all students—have been expanded to a four-year sequence.

Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society, addressed parents and students and praised the College for adhering to the model of Catholic education envisioned by John Henry Cardinal Newman, who was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI last month. Reilly thanked them “for leading your sons and daughters on the path of sainthood—the path of Saint Mary Magdalen, who came to know Christ and was a witness to the world; the path of Saint Thomas More, whose martyr’s strength was forged in his childhood and his education; the path of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, who said that his life’s work was to confront Liberalism, by which he meant a form of secularism that excludes faith from education and public life—the very same secularism that today is destroying the West.”

Reilly encouraged students to confront what Newman described as “a darkness different in kind from any that has been before it”—a society and academia that is “simply irreligious.”

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