Charism, Crisis, and Adaptation A Theological Reading of Identity in Catholic Higher Educatio

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For many American Catholic universities, mission and identity are shaped by the charism and charismatic traditions of the founding religious congregations. But the use of this language raises several questions in the face of changing dynamics in higher education, the church, and society. Is the language of Lasallian, Vincentian, Dominican, or Jesuit, for example, primarily about branding, or does it reflect a deeper theological claim? With universities in New York serving as a reference point, this paper will explore the emergence of charism as an identity adaptation strategy and the need for attending to the theological dimensions of such language. A deeper theological reading of charism’s corporate dimension, as informed by theologian Sandra Schneiders and others, can provide a useful resource for university leaders as they chart a course for Catholic higher education beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

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