Our Catholic Mission

University Seal

Since its founding by Rev. Edward F. Sorin, C.S.C., on November 26, 1842, the University of Notre Dame has sought to be at the center of Catholic intellectual life. Notre Dame’s Catholic character informs its every endeavor: from the nature of the education it offers, to the kinds of discussions and inquiries that take place at the University, to its service to the Church.

Notre Dame’s Catholic character is grounded in its Holy Cross identity. As “educators in the faith,” Holy Cross priests and brothers anchor the University’s Catholic character, working to fulfill the vision of the Congregation’s founder, Blessed Basil Moreau, to “make God known, loved, and served.”

The essential character of the University as a Catholic institution of higher learning shall at all times be maintained ... [and] the University retain in perpetuity its identity as such an institution.


This report provides a small sampling of the research, teaching, and service occurring on campus and around the world to fulfill the mission of Notre Dame and the expectations of Catholic universities that have been articulated by the Church. These expectations took form in an apostolic exhortation issued by Pope John Paul II in 1990, titled Ex Corde Ecclesiae. The exhortation was adopted by Catholic bishops in the United States in 1999, and states four attributes that comprise Catholic identity at an institution such as Notre Dame:

  1. a Christian inspiration not only of individuals but of the university community as such;
  2. a continued reflection in the light of the Catholic faith upon the growing treasury of human knowledge, to which it seeks to contribute by its own research;
  3. fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church;
  4. an institutional commitment to the service of the people of God and of the human family in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life. 

The following is not an exhaustive listing of every way in which the University maintains its Catholic character; it would be impossible to detail everything Our Lady’s University has done, is doing, and will do. Rather, the Report provides a small sampling of the good work people are doing across campus and around the world to ful ll Pope John Paul II’s vision for Catholic institutions of higher learning and Father Sorin’s vision for Notre Dame.

Learn more about Our Catholic Mission