Is there a good Catholic college in Memphis?

Is there a good Catholic college in Memphis?

It seems innocent enough. The bishop of Memphis, Terry Steib, announces a cooperative effort with Christian Brothers University on a Master of Arts in Catholic Studies program. Steib gives the usual effusive PR praise:

“I am thrilled about what’s happening,” Bishop Steib said at the signing. “It has been a longtime dream of mine to partner with CBU. It is a gift for the university to develop a program that incorporates the charism of the Lasallian brothers and to do what is right for the spiritual growth and education of God’s people in the diocese.”

And what is the “charism of the Lasallian brothers” that the bishop so esteems?

I’m not sure, but we might ask whether it is being adequately expressed in the work of an English professor at the university, one Michael Shiefelbein, who is a former seminarian, a practicing and un-closeted homosexual, a Congregational minister, and author of novels about gay vampires. Yeah.

I wonder if Schiefelbein’s courses will be part of the MA program. Or perhaps I should say that if Schiefelbein is an example of the type of faculty member they have at Christian Brothers University, what will the quality of the MA program be?

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  • So true, so true!  The entire thing is a sham, pure and simple.  The “charism of the Lasallian brothers” is the same willy-nilly theology that has been the death of religious orders for the past forty years.

    All Christian Brothers University is trying to do is give lip service to its “Catholic identity.”  All the Diocese of Memphis is trying to do is make Rome happy by making it look like they are taking initiatives in the area of Catholic education. 

    If Rome only knew the truth…

  • I attended CBU for my last 2 years of college, and from what I remember, Shiefelbein isn’t representative of the professors there.  Granted, I was in the School of Business, and didn’t run into many (any?) of the English professors. 
      Leander, with regards to the Diocese just trying to make Rome happy by making it look like they’re taking initiatives in the area of Catholic education, I’d like to point something out.  Back in 1999, the Diocese set about reo-pening 7 inner city schools (Jubilee Schools). As of last friday, these schools had a fully funded trust fund in excess of $44 million.  For more details, there’s an article in the Jan. 7 Commercial Appeal

  • Mike, I know all about the $44 milllion.  The “Jubilee Schools” are just that:  “Jubilee Schools.”  They are not really Catholic schools.  The majority of those attending those school are non-Catholics.  While I certainly understand the need for evangelization, particularly in the inner city, in light of Bishop Steib and company’s fuzzy theology in regards to its “Ministry with Gay and Lesbian Persons,” (, his erroneous opinions on reception of the Eucharist to politicians and voters who do not support Church teachings, and the horrible morale among the priests of this diocese under this present bishop, I cannot help but question the motives of such an effort.  I don’t know if its an effort to educate and evangelize as much as it is an effort to educate.  While the latter is certainly a noble effort on its own, for a Catholic diocese no education is complete without religious instruction.  As for making Rome happy, I was referring specifically to doing something about the Catholic identity of CBU, an institution that has been almost completely devoid of any true Catholic atmosphere for many years.  The majority of the Brothers in-residence at the school are retired, and those who still are young enough to still work are looking retirement in the face.  There is absolutely no authentic living of religious life as envisioned by the Church and no vocations among the Brothers in this particular provinces.  In short, they are a group of retired bachelors whose vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience are faintly remembered under the guise of friendship, economy, and dialogue. 

    Regardless of whether Schiefelbein is or is not “representative of the professors” there, given his direct conflict with the mission of the school, he should not be allowed to be there at all and CBU’s allowing him to remain sends a bad message to the community it serves.  Unfortunately, Schiefelbein isn’t the only professor over there thumbing his nose at the Church while at the same time collecting a check from one of her institutions.

  • So, do you really think, Bibiana, that Rome gives a care about a backwoods diocese with a population of about 60,000 Catholics, only half of whom bother to go to Mass on Sunday? I doubt they know much of anything that goes on in Memphis, Tennessee.