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National Catholic Student Coalition (NCSC)


NCSC was chartered in 1982 by 40 college and university students from around the United States. The group is a successor to the National Newman Club Federation (19081968) and the National Federation of Catholic College Students (19381968). Where the former was responsible to the Catholic student population at non-Catholic colleges and universities, the latter worked on behalf of only Catholic institutions of higher learning. Today, NCSC is a movement for lay undergraduate students in all U.S. colleges and universities and embraces and serves some four million Catholic college students. Students affiliate with the NCSC through student government organizations on the various campuses, usually through campus ministries. As of June 2000, NCSC had a membership of 150 (120 organization/campus ministry memberships, 30 individual student and alumni members). It is the U.S. constituent member of Pax Romana-International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) and it is through the IMCS that NCSC has a voice as a non-governmental organization at the United Nations. IMCS also represents its affiliates to the Pontifical Council of the Laity.

According to its constitution approved for 2001, the NCSC's mission is to form students in the faith, form the Christian conscience, educate for justice, facilitate personal development, and train future leaders. The organization is established to be a voice for Catholic college students in the U.S.; to provide them with resources for information and leadership development; to partner with local campus ministries and other national and international movements; and to provide a network of campus ministry groups and contact persons. It is comprised of an executive board and several regional boards and committees.

The old NFCCS had its first meeting at Manhattanville College in New York City in 1938. The following year it joined the Newman Federation in becoming U.S. members of the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS), which had been instituted by the Holy See in 1921. Also in 1939, the two groups hosted the World Congress of Pax Romana-IMCS on the campuses of Fordham University, Manhattanville College, and the Catholic University of America. During their meetings, where participants heard Dorothy Day among others, the second world war broke out, stranding many European delegates in the United States. The Pax Romana-IMCS remained in the U.S. for the duration of the war under the direction of Edward Kirchner, a collaborator of John Courtney Murray, SJ. By the mid-1960s, NFCCS had a membership of 100,000 students in more than 125 Catholic colleges and universities throughout 15 regions. However, upon the dissolution of the Newman Federation and NFCCS in 1968, the reorganization and downgrading of the old National Catholic Welfare Conference's Youth Department after the Second Vatican Council, and a cultural and attitudinal shift that occurred in the 1960s with respect to student movements generally, the Catholic student was left without formal organizational ties. This changed in 1980, when Joseph Kirchner, the son of Edward Kirchner, and Linda Wirth of the IMCS, rallied college students across the country to re-organize. In March 1982, the NCSC was founded in New York City. Each year since 1985, the NCSC has hosted a leadership conference that traditionally draws several hundred student participants.

Today, communications among the various regions are facilitated through the NCSC's official newspaper, The Catholic Collegian. NCSC is also involved in World Youth Days.

Bibliography: j. w. evans, The Newman Movemen Roman Catholics in American Higher Education, 18831971 (Notre Dame 1980). Archival materials for NFCCS may be found in the holdings of the Youth Department of the NCWC for the years 19411968 and similarly for the Newman movements for the years 19291971, both at the Catholic University of America.

[p. j. hayes]

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