The following letter was sent to alumni, parents and friends of Vanderbilt Catholic
March 26, 2012
As you well know, the controversy over religious freedom has been brewing all year at Vanderbilt University. With the publication of the non-discrimination policy finally released last week, it is undeniable that Vanderbilt University has forced our hand. Vanderbilt+Catholic will not re-register as a student organization at Vanderbilt University, effective Fall Semester 2012.
But we will not cease to exist. As God has clearly closed this door, He has also clearly opened other windows of opportunity to propose Jesus Christ and to form His disciples at Vanderbilt and at other campuses throughout the city.
The following is an excerpt from a letter sent to Vanderbilt+Catholic students by our student board:
After much reflection, discussion, and prayer, we have decided that Vanderbilt+Catholic cannot in good conscience affirm that we comply with this policy. While organizational skills and leadership abilities are important qualifications for leaders of Vanderbilt+Catholic, the primary qualification for leadership is Catholic faith and practice. We are a faith-based organization. A Catholic student organization led by someone who neither professes the Catholic faith nor strives to live it out would not be able to serve its members as an authentically Catholic organization. We cannot sign the affirmation form because to do so would be to lie to the university and to ourselves about who we are as an organization.
While this policy may change our status as a registered student organization, it will not change our mission. We will continue to serve the Vanderbilt community as a welcoming and faithful Catholic campus ministry, proposing Jesus Christ in all that we do.
I am proud of our student leaders. This is exactly the fruit that an authentic campus ministry should produce. Their resolve makes our situation a success story rather than a failure. It has become quite clear to the students that we either stand for something or fall for anything. We choose to stand for Jesus Christ, and we expect that our leadership do the same.
With Bishop Choby’s complete support, we will continue to serve the students of Vanderbilt as a non-registered ministry. We will open our doors wider in order to make a greater effort to reach out to the Vanderbilt campus and to all college students in Nashville. We have already received a very warm welcome from Belmont University: “Know that you always have a home here,” said Dr. Todd Lake, Belmont Vice President of Spiritual Development, in a recent email.
We need you, our friends and supporters, more than ever as we re-organize. We need your prayers, and we need your financial support. Visit our website often in the coming months --www.vanderbiltcatholic.org -- to see how we respond to this adventure in the New Evangelization! And please, if you are able, send us a donation to support our efforts to move forward and to proclaim proudly our Catholic identity.
Asking for your prayers and support, I am faithfully yours in Christ,
Fr. John Sims Baker, Chaplain
2004 Terrace Place Nashville, TN 37203 615.322.0104 www.vanderbiltcatholic.org