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Praxis: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Faith and Justice

Volume 1, Issue 2, Fall 2018

Andrew Herr, Jason King
Pages 104-122

Does Service and Volunteering Affect Catholic Identity?

While many believe that service should be connected to the religious identity of Catholic colleges and universities, little research has been done to see if this is in fact the case. To test this commonly-held belief, we surveyed students at and gathered information about twenty-six different Catholic campuses in the United States. We find no correlation between students’ frequency of service and their perception of Catholic identity. In addition, we find that students perceive their school to be less Catholic the more institutions link service to Catholicism. The only characteristic of service that is positively correlated with Catholic identity is the percentage of service learning courses offered. In other words, students do not see anything intrinsically Catholic about volunteering, but rather that Catholicism means that you should volunteer more. We believe this suggests how Catholic colleges and universities can link service to their Catholic identity.