Students (and faculty and staff) are hyped once again to fill out their picks to reach Atlanta on April 6 for the Final Four of men’s NCAA basketball tournament. Don’t let the March Madness pass you by without sharing some information about the Catholic colleges in this year’s field, including a pitch for your students to consider continuing their education at a Catholic college or university.

This year there are 10 Catholic colleges that will begin play this week, led by one by regular season rumber-one ranked Gonzaga University Bulldogs, a Jesuit university from Spokane, Washington. Consider the lessons that build from this fact alone:

  • Do your students know that St. Aloysius Gonzaga was a 16th century Italian Jesuit who was known for his compassionate care of the terminally ill?

  • Do they know that Pope Francis was also a Jesuit with Italian origins? (Do they also know why it is correct to say Pope Francis was a Jesuit rather than is a Jesuit?)

  • Do they know that Bing Crosby is among the alumni of Gonzaga University? (Do they know who Bing Crosby is and what connections he has with Catholic identity? Hint: Fr. Chuck O’Malley)

Here are the rankings of the other Catholic teams (with tournament seedings in parenthesis):

  1. Gonzaga (1)

  2. Georgetown (2)

  3. Marquette (3)

  4. Saint Louis (4)

  5. Notre Dame (7)

  6. Creighton (7)

  7. Villanova (9)

  8. St. Mary’s of California (11)

  9. La Salle (13)

  10. Iona (15)

Here are some other ideas for activities and exercises connected with these Catholic colleges:

  • Research information about the founding orders of each school: Jesuit (Saint Louis, Creighton, Gonzaga, La Salle, Georgetown, Marquette); Christian Brothers (St. Mary’s of California, Iona); Congregation of Holy Cross (Notre Dame); Villanova (Augustinian).

  • Who are the namesakes of each college?

Saint Louis (Louis IX, thirteenth century king of France)

Creighton (Edward Creighton, prominent Omaha businessman)

St. Mary’s and Notre Dame (Mary, the Mother of God)

Gonzaga (St. Aloyisus Gonzaga)

La Salle (St. Jean-Baptiste de La Salle, educator and founder of the Christian Brothers)

Iona (named for an island off the coast of Scotland)

Villanova (St. Thomas of Villanova, born in Spain in the fifteenth century)

Georgetown (named for its neighborhood in honor of King George III)

Marquette (Fr. Jacques Marquette, S.J., explorer of the Mississippi River)

  • Research information on the school (its location, enrollment deadlines, financial aid, academic foci, etc.)

Finally, point out some more of the advantages of attending a Catholic colleges, including opportunities for growth in community, morality, service, and faith. Share the website from the National Catholic College Admission Association with details on the over 200 Catholic colleges in the United States.

Also, tell your students that even if they are not able to attend a Catholic college, most public colleges sponsor a Newman Club, named after Bl. John Henry Newman, that provides opportunities for the sacraments, retreats, RCIA classes, and catechetical studies.

Feel free to add some other lesson ideas in the comment section below or search “March Madness” on this website for lesson ideas from past years.

Now, back to the brackets! And remember:


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