Dominican university hasn’t been considered Catholic for “many years”

Does this set the precedent?

Dominican University (Image from

Statement of the Cardinal Newman Society on Dominican University of California:

On April 12, 2018, Dominican University of California, located in San Rafael within the Archdiocese of San Francisco, will host Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards as part of the University’s Institute for Leadership Studies 2018 Spring Leadership Lecture Series. Richards and Planned Parenthood are responsible for the deaths of thousands of preborn infants and for harvesting human body parts.

Despite the misleading name of Dominican University — which alludes to its founding by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, the great Catholic evangelist Saint Dominic, and a formerly authentic Catholic education — it is important to make Catholic families aware that Dominican University of California is no longer recognized as a Catholic university by Church authority.

It is understandable that many Catholics are unaware of Dominican University’s status, given its quiet slide into secular education. Several years ago, The Cardinal Newman Society noticed that the University has not been listed in the Official Catholic Directory, by which the U.S. bishops identify officially Catholic institutions, since 2012. This week we explained this tragic development to reporter Claire Chretien of LifeSite News, who then obtained confirmations from both the University and the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Chretien reports:

Dominican University, which began as a Catholic school, now considers itself “non-denominational” but has “Catholic tradition,” a representative of their admissions office told LifeSiteNews.

The college “has not been a recognized Catholic University for many years,” Mike Brown, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, told LifeSiteNews.

Nevertheless, the University’s repudiation of its founding Catholic mission is not entirely clear to visitors to its website. While the University makes no explicit claim to a Catholic identity, it does tout “Dominican ideals” — albeit an “ecumenical” distortion of the robust Catholic spirituality and fidelity of the Dominican Order (properly named the Order of Preachers).

The University also maintains some association with its founding Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, and three Dominican Sisters serve on the Board of Trustees. A 2017 presentation by historian Sr. Patricia Dougherty, OP, celebrating the Sisters’ long history with the University, still identifies it as one of 15 “Dominican College and Universities in U.S.” without mentioning any formal shift away from Catholic education.

Likewise, this momentous change is nowhere mentioned in the website’s history of the University.

Apparently University President Mary Marcy was aware of the change as early as 2011. In her inaugural address, she proclaimed matter-of-factly, “From a Catholic women’s college we evolved to become a secular co-educational university with a Dominican heritage.” That was when Dominican University was still listed in the Official Catholic Directory.

From Cardinal Newman Society.


  1. Who decides if an institution is “Catholic” or not? Does each Bishop exercise this approval over institutions in his Diocese, similar to the old IMPRIMATUR [Let it be printed]? Who decides what gets in the Catholic Directory?
    Caveat Emptor [Let the buyer beware].

  2. Anonymous says:

    I never heard of the Official Catholic Directory but at $369 per year, I can do my own research. We started with the Newman Society Guide and then searched by major for other Catholic Universities. If we had one we were interested in we searched the name of the university then added search terms like drag show, birth control, Planned Parenthood, news.
    There are also websites like Niche and Google reviews and Youtube
    We’ve had disappointments with every college. Purity just does not exist.
    Know what you and your child want and keep looking til you find it. Pray a lot. Let Mary help you.
    It does take a lot of time so if you have the money maybe the Directory would be worth it.

    • Sandy Natale says:

      What about Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula?

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t know anything bad about it except for one report online of a sexual assault by a student on another student that was ignored by the administration..
        It was not one we considered because it is non traditional in that it only has one “major.” Even though I had a child that was interested in a liberal arts degree, they did not want to do a classical education program.
        If I had a child that was interested in that, I would be comfortable sending him here.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thomas Aquinas is a very strict environment which is what we wanted. Some people feel like the college years are for cutting loose; this would not be the college for those people.

  3. Dominican University is listed on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website as a Catholic university.

    • Anonymous says:

      I thought it might be Dominican in IL but you are right. They list both Dominican University and Dominican University of California.

  4. This sad but true information is very important for prospective students, parents, and would-be donors to know. At the same time it would be nice for the 3 Dominican Sisters who sit on the board of trustees, to exercise TRUTH IN ADVERTISING by removing Dominican from the university’s name. The school can sponsor a contest to re-name itself. VERITAS

  5. “Dominican” is a brand that carries name recognition associated with a lot of success and historical credibility. The board of trustees (or whatever) would be out of their minds to voluntarily give that up. It must be worth 10’s of millions of dollars to them. The ability of progressives to compartmentalize and rationalize their paradigms is truly breathtaking sometimes, this Cecil Richard thing just being one example. Don’t know what kind of presence Women’s March has at Dominican, but their recent defense of is a chilling example of that. The Dominicans themselves need to step in and act against the remaining sisters that are involved with this university and at the least encourage them to leave. Not sure what if any…

  6. Anonymous says:

    The Dominican Sisters of San Rafael’s Vision Statement helped me to realize what some of the problem is:
    We reverence and affirm the inherent dignity of each person.
    We will work for transformation of attitudes and systems that deprive any person of dignity.

    I think many of the people who comment here are like me and believe that while it is never ok to treat another person badly, many people deprive themselves of dignity. Those people need help. The first thing they need is the truth. Sin, especially grave sin has serious consequences. Some of the consequences are ostracism and being talked about negatively. It is hurtful but you make your choices. People who don’t approve of your behavior have the right to not be around you…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Seeing the abortion and birth control support on their college web page makes me think how destructive they are being to women. Many women deprive themselves of dignity by engaging in premarital sex, with varying degrees of consent. The average college age woman (18-24 is too young and too immature to make informed decisions about engaging in sexual behavior and in handling the consequences of it (including the loss of the state of grace). Things like birth control which appear to help them avoid some of the consequences of engaging in sex really just come with their own set of serious consequences. The young are in a no win situation. No one will tell them truth.

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