By Antoinette Cea
Catholic University has officially begun preparation for the yearlong program beginning Fall 2016 called “The Marriage Project” which will promote the benefits of traditional marriage and family for society.
The project comes through the visions of Catholic University’s School of Theology and Religious Studies in conjunction with university President, John Garvey, to continue Pope Francis’ call for healthy marriage and family lives.
“I think a lot of this comes from what Pope Francis intended for the Festival of Families,” said Chad C. Pecknold, an Associate Professor of Systematic Theology. “So, we wanted to kind of continue the Francis Effect on campus. Francis came to America for the family, for marriage and to re-propose, as he says, to expose the beauty of marriage not from just the Church’s teachings on marriage, but what the disciplines have to offer in terms of illuminating the importance of marriage for a happy society.”
The project will be a series of lectures, discussions, and activities presented by a broad range of the Catholic University community.
“The Anscombe Society is a bit different from just the general population of students,” said Pecknold. “We have the Student Action Committee, the Anscombe Society is interested in cosponsoring, as well as the English Society. On the university level, we have many departments and schools sponsoring some events and such.”
Many students at Catholic University see a discussion on marriage preparation as healthy and beneficial in order to counter the hook-up culture that is rampant on college campuses.
“I think it is important for college students to be concerned about marriage and thinking about it even though we’re at such a young age because it’s important to have something in sight in the future for our goals,” said junior Theology and Religious Studies major, Greta Haussmann. “It’s important to think about vocation in a concrete way, not an idealized way. By allowing college students to think about marriage and think about something that’s much later in life, maybe they will be more prone to prepare themselves for their spouse.”
Haussmann is the President of Catholic University’s Anscombe Society. The Anscombe Society will focus its events for the upcoming academic year in accordance with the Marriage Project.
“So much of a college experience, especially in a liberal arts university, is focused on virtue formation and how that is going to effect our ability to graduate and go out into the world and bring the good news with us and contribute to the common good,” said senior Theology and Religious Studies major, Brooke Paris. “I think that considering marriage in our vocation is a real and concrete stake. I think one of the main goals of the Marriage Project is to offer undergraduates a vision of marriage and family life that they don’t often see. As college students we are often in a type of bubble for four years where we don’t often interact with the outside society or see marries couples in our daily life. I think one of the goals of this project is to show students that marriage is a vital part of our society.”
Paris is one of the Chairs for the Student Action Committee for the Marriage Project. The two current chairs of the Student Action Committee are Paris and Daniel Lopes, a senior Theology and Religious Studies major.
While many students and members of the Catholic University community express excitement regarding the Marriage Project, some students on campus express skepticism with the Project in relation to the recent rise of LGBT support on campus.
“I think the project is great but I’m honestly waiting to see the response to the project on campus by other students,” said junior Biomedical Engineering major, Ben Rahimi. “I think what some people will fail to recognize is that a person can be both pro-LGBT rights and pro-traditional marriage at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive and I’m interested in seeing the response from students.”
In regards to questions about the rise of LGBT support on campus and the push for official recognition of organizations such as CUAllies, Pecknold said the Marriage Project will not interfere with the rising culture.
“[CUAllies] is certainly a live concern on campus that I’m aware of, but it’s a concern that does not run along the theme of lifting up marriage between a man and a woman,” said Pecknold. “Every person with same-sex desires came from a mom and a dad. There is not a person in this world who exists without a man and a woman coming together and giving life to them. A man and a woman come together and they create life and we talk about this as marriage.”
“I think this project is trying to say and encourage people who aren’t quite sure that this is a possibility, that marriage can be for life, it can be faithful, and it can be fruitful,” said Executive Director of University Communications, Elise Italiano. “The heart of this project is, well, young people are at a moment in their life where they are asking what will make them happy. Some ways of searching are helpful, and others are not. I think that this project is saying is that we are all searching for happiness and marriage is a possible way to that happiness. It’s more than feelings, it takes decisions.”