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April 23, 2007



Praying as requested!


I posted this on YouTube as well, but had to shorten it to fit the 500 character limitation.

Mike: Of course you have my prayers. One caution I would make would be in putting too much faith in Notre Dame's faculty. Many of them dissent from true Catholic teaching and are basically Catholic in name only.

Otherwise, I wish you the best on your journey home. My wife's best friend from high school is married to a Catholic convert from North Carolina and, though he found it difficult at first to deal with his family's reactions, they've apparently come a long way in their acceptance of his faith and have even shown some odd (initial conversion) signs as well.

God bless.

francis 03

Hey Mike,

Don't know if you read the comments here, but here goes anyway. I'm a student at Notre Dame (although I'll sadly have graduated by the time you would get here), and I suspect there are going to be people telling you that ND isn't *really* a Catholic school. My advice: it's an absolutely awesome Catholic school, if you want it to be. It can also be your "normal" four-year-drinking-binge college experience if you want it to be. Because ND is a much larger place than some of the more "hard-core" Catholic colleges, the active Catholic community here is just as large here, even though it makes up a much smaller portion of the student body (my guess is 70% of students go to Mass regularly, and 20% or so are fully in line with all the Church's teachings). The liturgies are as beautiful (and as or more numerous) than you'd find anywhere else; the campus art and architecture is unabashedly sacred; any while Jared is right that you have to be careful about the faculty, there are signs that this situation is going to be addressed, if not as dramatically as some would like.

As for what to tell your grandparents: I would imagine that if you're not quite ready to deal with the issue head-on yet, you could just say that it's a great school academically, and that it's Catholicism doesn't bother you. Seems like that would be honest without opening a can of worms, and it would at least lay the foundation for the conversation you want to have later.


May I suggest:




I'll pray for you of course and I think the above commenter is right when they say that ND can be a Catholic University if you want it to be. Anyway, I'll be praying for you and your journy and for your parents.
God Bless and all the best of luck


Mike, I will definitely pray for your situation!!

Also, I also would caution you to be wary of Notre Dame as far as looking to find great Catholicism there. I'm sure you may find a couple of solid teachers there but they'll be few and far between.

I am a little biased having gone there myself but you might want to take a look at Christendom College in Virginia. You'll find a plethora of strong Catholic teacheres as well as students. Here is the link: http://www.christendom.edu/

Whatever the case, stay strong! I've been wondering how you were doing. I'm sorry that you're having a tough time of it. It's never easy to follow Christ. God bless you!!!!!


I also agree though with Francis 03 that you can find what you're looking for no matter where you go. It just depends how much of it you want to find.

Brian Miles

Dear Mike,

I'm praying for you. Chicago, Michigan, and Notre Dame...wow...well done. As a U of C alumni I can tell you that it might very well be the place "Where Fun Comes to Die" (as the student body is so fond of saying), but for me, it was certainly not the place where faith dies. I came into the Church while I was a student there. There are wonderful Catholic profs in the Divinty School, and the Lumen Christi Institute on campus brings in a regular host of top notch (and orthodox) Catholic scholars.

Many blessings on your journey.


Brian Miles, you are one person; therefore you are an alumnus (assuming you are male). There is no such thing as an alumni.

David Hart

Dear Mike,

I will pray for you but I think you might want to seriously think of adding University of Dallas (UD) to your list. Why?

1) Unless you grandparents are net savvy they won't even know its a Catholic college until you are there. University of Dallas (like University of Dayton) falls into a category of Catholic colleges with city names that protestants don't are Catholic. Heck, many people in Dallas have no idea it exists or that it is Catholic (they confuse it with various other colleges in the area).

2) Its a much more Catholic college than Notre Dame. Its probably not as strongly Catholic as Christendom or FUS but it has a much more stronger academic background than either of them. It has the strongest core program of any Catholic college that offers substantial multiple majors.

3) It's in the south. An easy sale for a southern family.

4) Phenomenal graduate school acceptance rate. I think I read in the ISI guide to colleges that it averages about 85% for pre-law and 90% for pre-med school get accepted into the graduate school. My daughter was accepted into University of Chicago's graduate Physics program after graduating from UD. That alone attracts tons of non-Catholics to the college.

5) Great tuition aid for academically gifted students. If you did good in SATs they generally have good programs to help you reduce your tuition problems. For national merit scholars they have one of the best programs of any Catholic school. UD likes to boast about the academic quality of its undergraduates.

6) Great Mass opportunities. Tons of different mass opportunities close by (diocesean, Byzantine Catholic, Cistercian monestary and more)

7) The Rome program is legendary among Catholic colleges for having the highest percentage of undergraduates who attend (I think it is currently at 88% but that is from memory).

Here is some more facts from wikipedia:

# Youngest university in the 20th century to be granted a Phi Beta Kappa chapter
# Top 10 Colleges for American Values based on the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s (ISI) Choosing the Right College
# The Harvard Business Review in May 2005 in an article titled, “How Business Schools Lost Their Way”, recognized the university as one of four business schools in the nation that had retained its professional focus and was an example of best practices
# The undergraduate class of 2005 contained nine Fulbright Scholars
# One percent of all MBAs in the world received their degree from UD
# Recognized by the Princeton Review for being “one of the best private school bargains in the nation” and in the top 20 for having outstanding professors
# Recognized by the Princeton Review for being one of the top 10 universities in the nation where students pray on a regular basis and students are most nostalgic for Ronald Reagan
# UD has maintained a campus in Rome, Italy for over 35 years where virtually all of its undergraduate students attend for a semester
# UD alumni are represented in over 150 countries around the world
# UD freshmen have the third highest average SAT scores in Texas for incoming freshmen behind Rice and Trinity.
# First university in America to be accredited by the American Academy of Liberal Education
# The only Ph.D. program in the United States with a core curriculum in the great books
# The Fiske Guide to Colleges states that the University of Dallas is without a doubt the best Catholic-affiliated school south of Washington, D.C.
# Recognized by the Dallas Business Journal as being the number one choice for graduate management education for working adults in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex
# The National Review ranks the University of Dallas as one of the top 50 liberal arts schools in the nation
# One of the only Universities to offer a bachelor's degree in Political-philosophy and a Masters of Politics degree.

Nancy E.

Mike, I think God is giving you an opportunity here. When your grandparents try to discourage you from going to Notre Dame, it's your chance to ask, "What are your major concerns about the Catholic Church?" Listen, maybe even take notes, and just say you'll check that out. (Of course, you already have). That gives you a chance to compose your answer and share your thoughts later. You'll be able to respectfully point out any misconceptions they have while still assuring them you will carefully guard and even further your relationship with Jesus Christ, which, of course, will be true.

I will pray that God will indeed bless this interchange with you grandparents. I feel so sure he will.




I do not know where you live in North Carolina, but my friend Phil Blosser (aka The Pertinacious Papist is a philosophy professor at a college in Hickory. Might be nice to have a contact closer to home, if Hickory is reasonably close. By all means drop a comment at his blog or email him at Lenoir-Rhyne College.

If you do, tell him Kirk sent you!

francis 03

I also agree though with Francis 03 that you can find what you're looking for no matter where you go. It just depends how much of it you want to find.

We have to try to keep this from becoming an intra-Church, inter-college bragging war : )
I do want to suggest, though, that given the larger student body and faculty size at Notre Dame, the "amount" of Catholicism there is pretty decent-- especially if you throw in religious art and architecture, and the eye-poppingly beautiful (and reverent) liturgies.

That said, the other posters have a point that the "concentration" of Catholic faculty and students are greater at many of the schools they recommend. That doesn't mean that some of them can't be four-year beer binges as well; I know from experience.

francis 03

I should rephrase that-- I know from observation. I wasn't participating in the binging myself.


Here's my advice, not that I know much. Your parents will probably be footing the bill for a significant chunk of your education. Do what you can to convince them, but if they end up following your grandparents advice you may not be able to go to your first choice of schools. You may just have to accept that. But it doesn't have to stop you for continuing on your journey. Wherever you end up, the most important part is that you listen to God. You can do that at any school. You can strengthen your resolve through the stories of the saints who spent years in situations they didn't wish to be in.

Mike in Texas

I'm 23 years old. I was raised in a devout Southern Baptist family in the suburbs of Dallas, TX. We went to church every Sunday. My parents were members of the choir when I was little, and my older sister played the organ. All through high school and a little after, I went with them and never really felt out of place -- never had a bad experience with evangelical Christianity (fundamentalist seems like too combative a term to me). Catholicism, while not necessariy demonized, was considered a perversion of the faith in my family and in our church.

Anyhow, the point of all this is that about a year or two ago, I was where you are now. God somehow managed to get my attention and introduce me to His Church. I started reading some of the early Christian works -- in particular the works of the Desert Fathers, stories of the Martyrs, and Augustine's 'Confessions'. I learned about the formation of the Bible and the progress of the Church and after that I knew I couldn't treat Christianity quite the same.

I started attending mass, and after a year or so, I enrolled the the RCIA at my local parish. Three weeks ago at the Easter vigil, the Catholic Church welcomed me as one of their own. I'm still a little overwhelemed.

Alright, enough exposition: The hardest part of all this was discussing it with my family. I started by telling them I was going to church again after a few years on hiatus and when they asked where, I told them it was a Catholic Church. My mother's first reaction after picking her jaw up off the ground, was to ask questions, specifically: "Do they follow the Bible?" Now of course Catholics follow the Bible, but it just goes to show how little your average faithful Protestant really knows about the Catholic faith. Since that time, we've batted around a few other sticking points -- justification, Purgatory, praying to/with the Saints, the sinlessness of Mary -- and I'm sure I've done a horrible job explaining things to them, but I'm glad we're talking about it -- everyone grows a little that way. They've even come to mass with me a few times (twice at their request).
I know this is hard on them, and it tears me up that it is. But if there were no brave souls willing to risk the ire of their families there'd be no Church (cf. Luke 12:49-53).

I don't know what your relationship with your family is like, Mike, and frankly I don't know how ANY of this is gonna resolve, but you're not alone in this by any stretch. You can expect a little conflict, a LOT of questions, and some strain, but approach the situation with love and humility. And pray about it.

And Mike, I'll pray for you, if you'll pray for me. :)
Peace be with you,

Gene Branaman

Mike - You have been in my prayers since Jimmy linked to your first video & will continue to be in them, brother.

I'm a "Mike" too because my middle name is Michael. Remember to pray for St Michael the Archangel's intercession when you pray about this, Mike! He's our patron saint by default, if you will, because of our names. Get to know him, he'll help you out!

God bless you, bro. Keep us informed, OK.


Hi, Mike,

Recently, in planning my marriage, I let my family tell me what to do a bit too much. I compromised between the wishes of my family and my fiancee about where to get married, who was going to do what in the ceremony, and what the whole reception was going to be like. Things escalated into my fiancee and I not being able to tell whether all the stress we were experiencing was due to a faulty relationship (in which case we needed to put the wedding on hold) or the plethora of different stuff going on due to planning. We ended up postponing our wedding to find out. Upon being free of all the stress of planning, my fiancee and I noticed our relationship was fine. The planning with all the conflicting plans and ideas about what was what had been driving us nuts. I did not think at first that having my family suggest we do this little thing over here and that over there would end up driving my fiancee and I absolutely bonkers. I learned from this experience that there comes a time when I need to stand on my own rights to make my own decisions for myself and if others don't like it, tough.

My fiancee and I are finally getting married this Saturday with a little, Tridentine Mass with close friends and family, just as we had in mind to begin with. Obviously , this time around I had to tell my family what's what with the planning, but my fiancee and I couldn't feel more right about things and it's been amazing how much really monumentous arrangements have just fallen into place like God was doing it... because he was. Make your own decisions based on what you know God wants you to do, not only with this college thing, and God will bless you for it and speed you along the path along which he is taking you. He will also take care of all the factors over which you have no control, like reactions from family.

In Jesus and Mary, Rich


Several things:

1) You have a moral (and even pecuniary) obligation to obey the will of your parents in this matter. So, I would try avoid the Catholic issue altogether. Try to go to whatever school you think would be best for whatever it is you want to study. Relegate the "Catholicity" of the school to a tertiary level or lower in your discussion and your decision process, frankly. Wherever you go, that's where God wanted you to be.

2) Your faith can just as easily grow in an environment that is indifferent or hostile to Catholicism. If you think Evangelicals are tough to deal with, wait until you wrestle with the Atheists, Communists, and San Franciscans!

3) God bless your grandparents and your parents for caring enough about you to want to try to save you from going to Hell! I have had only one argument with a family member with regards to the faith and that more political than anything else (also: try to stay away from politics).

Whenever I talk to a hostile Evangelical about the faith, my first response is to say: "Thank you for caring about me enough to worry about whether I am going to Hell. So few people these days think it matters and treat religion like an dirty word. It is because I also believe eternity matters that I have decided to become Catholic ..."


Stubblespark: You know I usually agree with you on most stuff but this quote makes me uneasy:

You have a moral (and even pecuniary) obligation to obey the will of your parents in this matter. So, I would try avoid the Catholic issue altogether.

Uneasy because it could be misinterpretted by some to mean "Well, I can't convert because I must obey my parents." (I'm not saying that Mike in Michigan in particular would say that, but many people read this blog and never comment.)

Uneasy because St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas, and countless others didn't believe it was necessary to avoid issues of faith if this meant disobeying their parents. Both of these men had to be locked up to keep them from following the path God had laid out for them. Both of them, even after their imprisonment, disobeyed parental commands to follow God's word, because God is Father over all, even our immediate fathers and mothers.

I know you know this StubbleSpark. I'm just clarifying for the sake of those who might not read your words with the proper grounding in contrasting allegiances and in knowledge of the lives of saints.

Otherwise your points two and three are well put. There is, however, a certain peace in being among a community of like-minded believers, where every day doesn't have to be a battle. Contending for the faith can make one strong, but it can also wear you down after a while. Hostile environments (like most colleges) are all the more wearysome if one's family and friends are in opposition as well.

Gene's comment re: St. Michael is also appropriate. I took Michael as my confirmation name and his intercession does not cease to amaze.

John E

I can't get to YouTube from work, but I think I get the gist. One thing you might want to consider as a factor is whether the campus has a FOCUS group (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). I don't know if I'd consider this a major factor, since it appears from the campus list that FOCUS concentrates (was going to say focuses) on bringing their organization to secular schools, and I don't see many of the good Catholic universities listed. However, if you're going to choose one of these schools, a FOCUS group on campus would be a definite plus to learn more about the Catholic faith or keep it intact.

John E

Yes, StubbleSpark, some of what you said does not sit well with me either, especially the comment, "Wherever you go, that's where God wanted you to be." What's the point of prayer and discernment if there's no risk that we can make a choice that is different than what God knows is best for us?

I agree with your second point somewhat, but why would someone who is learning the Catholic faith want to expose themselves to distortions of Catholicism from anti-Catholic professors and students? You can probably still manage to get in shape with Cheetos and soda pop too if you're really motivated, but if you have the choice, why not be fed with real nutrition? There'll be plenty of necessary adversity to overcome without needing to choose unnecessary adversity.



I hate to agree with John on this, but what he said here makes great sense:

I agree with your second point somewhat, but why would someone who is learning the Catholic faith want to expose themselves to distortions of Catholicism from anti-Catholic professors and students? You can probably still manage to get in shape with Cheetos and soda pop too if you're really motivated, but if you have the choice, why not be fed with real nutrition? There'll be plenty of necessary adversity to overcome without needing to choose unnecessary adversity.

I mean, for a seed to grow, you need to put it in good soil, no?

Mike Mikolajczyk

Alrighty...this is Mike.

Thanks SO much for putting this up, Jimmy, and thanks to all of the people that have already commented.

Now then...well, since the discussion has quickly moved to collegiate matters, I'll deal with those comments. I want it to be known that my interest in Notre Dame was sparked by its academic prestige. It's religious affiliation was actually quite a nice coincidence, but not the reason I looked into it originally. Regardless, thanks to the people that have suggested other alternatives. I, personally, will probably end up going to a school that is at least somewhat close to Michigan, so universities like Dallas will probably not be considered too seriously, despite its advantages. :-\

To specifically deal with StubbleSpark's comments...I appreciate the comment, but I will respectfully disagree. First of all, my parents are fine with it, it is my OTHER family members that will not be...in other words, EVERYONE other than my mom/dad. Regardless, I feel that my obligations to God far outweigh my obligations to fulfill my parents' desires. Besides...it may be confrontational, but I don't actually WANT to avoid the issue. I WANT it to be brought up, I just need prayer to know HOW to deal with it once it is brought up.

Secondly, it's not the atheists or even other fundamental Christians that I need help dealing with. THOSE people I'm fine with. I've had conversations with at least 3 other fundamental Christians from my old church over the internet and I've discussed at length my reasons for wanting to convert. It's the fact that these are my grandparents, who literally raised me and I am having a hard time accepting that this WILL cause conflict with them.

Thirdly, I, too, appreciate that they will be caring enough about me to try to keep me with God. I have no problem with them being upset. They are simply following what they have been taught their whole lives. No biggie.

Once again, thanks to everyone who has commented and prayed/are praying. I will pray for all of you, (including you, Michael :-D) and I will stay in contact through this blog or my email. If anyone here wants my AIM/Myspace, also, send me an email and I can give you either. I'm always up to having conversation about this kind of thing. :-)



I agree with the gist of what StubbleSpark said. In the end, if Mike's parents make up their mind that they're not going to let him go to a Catholic school there's not a lot he can do. If that happens, it may be best to just let it go instead continually hitting on a raw nerve in the family. It's not like he'll be restricted from learning more about Catholicism at a non-Catholic school. There'll most likely be a Catholic Church right in town and he'll be free to go there as much or as little as he chooses. If a Catholic higher education is required to learn the Faith then a lot of us are in trouble. Mike's got the desire for God, with that he'll be fine wherever he ends up.


Sorry, Mike, didn't mean to contradict what you just posted. I in the middle of writing it while you posted. Disregard everything I just said.


I think this may possibly fall under one of the instances of which Christ was speaking when he said he would set father against son and son against father, mother agaisnt daughter, and daughter against mother. Let's hope not... but what else would Christ have been speaking of if not this sort of situation? There is a diffrence between honoring and obeying when we talk about honoring your father and your mother (Luke 12:53).

You can disobey but do so respectfully. Sometimes just someone knowing where you stand on things but then also knowing you can be a normal, sane, and kind person does wonders for their perceptions.

Your are really not under any moral obligation to obey your parents when, if it comes to this, you know what your doing would be moral (pursing the faith you believe is true).

Mike, don't take your chances in an atomosphere hostile to the faith while your faith is still growing or in its nascent stages.

For what it's worth - there are my 2 cents...


Dear Jimmy,

Isn't there a problem with Catholics who like to criticize other Catholics or Catholic Universities that they aren't "Catholic enough?" Come on, people. This is hardly evangilization. I challenge ANY of you who say ND isn't "Catholic enough," or "Catholic in name only," to attend one Sunday 10am Mass at the Basilica, or one Rosary, (everyday at the grotto) or one hour of Adoration in the Basilica, or one of the MULTIPLE Holy Masses that occur there EVERYDAY and continue to say that. If you don't know what its like there, stop talking about it. When we criticize others for being cafeteria Catholics, are we any better?

God Bless this young man. He would be wonderful for ND, and ND would be wonderful for him!


"We have to try to keep this from becoming an intra-Church, inter-college bragging war : )"

Francis 03, no wars here. I'm just saying people can find solid Catholicism pretty much anywhere. If they're looking for a faithful concentrated amount then a Christendom-type college would fit the bill (For example, every faculty member at CC takes a pledge of fidelity to the Magisterium each school year). If not, then they could probably find it anywhere in smaller doses. After all, Christ makes Himself known everywhere for those who want to find Him. I trust you that the liturgy etc is great there.

Finally, I'm sure Mike will rock at ND, if he does go there. He knows his stuff. Hey, maybe he'll teach there one day! Then I will give ND a much higher performance rating. :)

(OH and I totally agree that 4 year binge drinkers are everywhere. No question.)

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