Our Catholic Identity

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The Catholic Intellectual Tradition

For 2,000 years, thinkers in the Catholic tradition have created some of history’s most important and luminous works of scholarship, art and literature. Emmanuel College is proud to continue this tradition.

What is truth? Is there truth? What is worth wanting? How do I discern what is moral? What is my purpose? What can I do to advance a good and just society?

Questions such as these have always resounded in the hearts of women and men, especially the young. For 2,000 years, thinkers in the Catholic tradition have addressed them with seriousness and integrity, spawning some of history's most important and luminous works of scholarship, art and literature. Thomas Aquinas, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Teresa of Avila, Blaise Pascal, John Henry Newman, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Flannery O'Connor are just a few of the lights in the Catholic intellectual firmament.

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, an international religious congregation who founded Emmanuel College in 1919, were outstanding exemplars of this tradition as well. These accomplished scholars and pioneers in women's education took an exacting approach to teaching the liberal arts and sciences. Yet the pursuit of knowledge was only part of what made education, in the words of their order's founder, St. Julie Billiart, "the greatest work on earth." To be of optimal service to others, they believed, students must cultivate wisdom, empathy and insight, and this was best achieved in the context of supportive, enriching relationships.

Today, Emmanuel holds a unique place in American higher education. Rooted firmly in its Catholic identity and in the charism of the Sisters of Notre Dame, the College fosters a free exchange of ideas in which all questions, including those touching on faith, ethics and values, are discussed openly and vibrantly. On a campus known for its sense of community, students connect easily with each other and faculty mentors, forming enduring relationships that enhance learning. Ample opportunities for reflection invite young men and women of all backgrounds to understand their deepest selves, while a thriving culture of service allows them to respond to those in need and to experience the joy that accompanies the gift of oneself.