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St. Michael’s College in top 100 U.S. liberal arts colleges

St. Michael's College in Colchester is once again among the top 100 National Liberal Arts Colleges in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report in its 2017 Best Colleges listings.

This year, St. Michael's is ranked at #99, behind only Holy Cross (#32) among Catholic colleges in the Northeast and is the fifth-best ranked among Catholic liberal arts colleges in the entire nation.

Factors that helped St. Michael's move up from last year to place again in the top 100 among national liberal arts colleges of all affiliations included excellent graduation rate, student-faculty ratio, the quality of incoming students and engagement of alumni along with other factors.

St. Michael’s President Jack Neuhauser commented on the improvement in ranking: “The faculty and staff at St. Michael's College quietly go about the day-to-day work of preparing our students for the economic, moral/spiritual and civic enterprises of the culture. It is heartening to see this translated into an improvement in our rankings. It serves as an affirmation of this good work and keeps us buoyed as we, like many other colleges on this list, face the continued challenges before us.”

Compared with Catholic colleges in its own region, St. Michael's places ahead of Stonehill College in Massachusetts (#108), St. Anselm in New Hampshire (#115) and Siena College in New York State (#122).

St. Michael’s also was listed in this year’s U.S. News rankings among “A-plus Schools for B Students.” Sarah Kelly, vice president for enrollment said, “I like the fact that we are also on the ‘A-plus schools for B students’ list because it underscores what we do best at St. Mike's. Our faculty members are passionate about teaching and mentoring their students and are wholly dedicated to their success. That is a palpable part of our community.” She noted that the list includes a number of competitive institutions that, like St. Michael's, transform good high school students into excellent college scholars.

The national liberal arts colleges in the 2017 U.S. News rankings guide -- both public and private -- emphasize undergraduate education. To be included, colleges must award at least 50 percent of their degrees in liberal arts disciplines such as languages and literature, biology, life sciences, philosophy, cultural studies and psychology.

According to U.S. News, its rankings, which group schools based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, have grown in the past two decades into the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities. 

St. Michael’s College, founded on principles of social justice and compassion, is a selective, fully residential Catholic college. Its closely connected community delivers internationally-respected liberal arts and graduate education. To prepare for fulfilling careers and meaningful lives, young adults grow intellectually, socially and morally, learning to be responsible for themselves, each other and their world.
  • Published in Diocesan

Transcendent tunes: Encountering God through music

Jerome P. Monachino was one of three children born into a musical family, and by age five he was playing guitar; “The Spirit Is a-Movin” and “City of God” were the first songs he played.
Because his mother was a church organist, he grew up with liturgical music. In fact, when he stopped being an altar server and became an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, he took every opportunity to be involved in music ministry.

In high school he studied vocal music and was a member of the chorale and jazz acapella group and joined rock and roll fusion bands.

At St. Michael’s College in Colchester, he earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. After graduating in 1991, he worked for a year as an analytical chemist.

But the music never left him.

In 1992, Monachino got his first liturgical music job at St. Michael’s where he is now director of liturgical music.

Almost 25 years later, Monachino — who earned a master’s in systematic theology at the college in 1997 ­— is doing what he loves through the ministry of music.

“Prayer is the practice of the presence of God,” Monachino said. “We’re charged with facilitating some of the prayer at Mass.”

For Monachino, music is prayer. It is a way for him to encounter God in the four-fold presence at Mass: word, Eucharist, people and priest.

Monachino directs two liturgical ensembles and singers at St. Michael’s College: One is active during the school year and consists mostly of students, and the other is a year-round group consisting largely of adult members of the worshipping community. Sometimes he combines the groups for special events.

He tries to incorporate various elements into the music so that everyone is inclined to sing — American swing and African components are common, but music with an Irish tone is sometimes included too. “We have a diverse population at the college,” he said. “Our job is not just to expose people to different styles of music but to help them encounter the God of all people.”

His challenge is to lead people to a greater encounter with Christ “despite their appetite for a particular liturgical [style].”

If liturgical music facilitates people’s encounter with the Risen Christ, “I can’t over emphasize its importance,” he said. “It could make or break somebody’s experience of liturgy.”

For him, “it’s all about getting people to participate.”

His favorite liturgical season is Ordinary Time. “The ordinary becomes transparent to the transcendent,” he said. “Music is extraordinarily ordinary because it is infused with God’s presence and God’s grace.”

Monachino also is coordinator of liturgical music at St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle LaMotte and a music minister at Holy Family and St. Lawrence churches in Essex Junction. He is part of the Pneuma Liturgical Ensemble and a member of the jazz groups Eight 02 and Gravel.

Monachino lives in Underhill with his wife, Claire, and their children, Olivia, 16, and Dominic, 13.

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic staff writer.
  • Published in Parish
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