At the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, we believe our student formation efforts lie at the intersection of Blessed Basil Moreau’s pedagogy that “the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart” and Father Edward Sorin’s vision that Notre Dame is called to be a “powerful force for good in the world.”
We believe that integral human formation in the Catholic tradition—in this case, integral student formation—rests in the conviction that human persons are made in the image and likeness of God, and that their final end is communion with God. This theological anthropology understands human persons to be endowed with a rational nature, to be naturally inclined toward the transcendent, and to be nourished most fully through participation in the life of the Catholic Church.
This conviction is informed by three fundamental commitments:
1. Reason illuminated by Faith: By God-given nature and lifted up through the exercise of faith and reason, human persons are capable of illuminating truths about their individual and shared humanity in such a way that facilitates securing personal and common goods necessary for authentic flourishing. “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves” (cf. St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, Preface).
2. Fidelity informed by the Heritage of the Catholic Faith: Out of gratuitous love, Jesus Christ safeguards the fullest expression of God’s Revelation in the Catholic Church. As such and passed on without interruption from the apostles, the Catholic Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent, and for the people who unfailingly adhere to this faith, it penetrates more deeply with right judgement and applies more fully in daily life (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 74–100).
3. Charity inspired by Truth: Integral human formation and charity are not possible without a commitment to truth, which is an “exacting and indispensable” form of charity. “Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity” (cf. Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 1–2).
To this end, a common commitment to the relational character of human flourishing, the enduring wisdom of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition, and the exercise of a steadfast posture of charity in truth serves as the means by which students, professionals, and the faithful might pursue and bear the personal and cultural fruit of truly integral formation.
The Sorin Fellows Program is the de Nicola Center’s dedicated student formation program through which students can participate more directly in the life of the Center and pursue truly integral formation in the Catholic tradition.