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Prominent Jesuit Launches New Catholic College-Credit Online Program

Contact: Rose Trabbic, Publicist, Ignatius Press, 239-867-4180, rose@ignatius.com

SAN FRANCISCO, May 11 /Christian Newswire/ -- Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, founder and editor of Ignatius Press, a former student of Pope Benedict XVI, and longtime leader in Catholic higher education, is launching a groundbreaking, international college-credit program for Catholic high school students, homeschoolers, and others.

The program, called the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program (www.liberalstudiesprogram.com), is a joint project of Ignatius Press and Angelicum Great Books Program, a longstanding provider of homeschooling and other liberal arts resources. Father Fessio serves as Chancellor of the new online LSP program, which begins this fall.

"The Liberal Studies Program comes at the perfect time to address a rapidly growing need and desire of serious Catholic parents and students," according to Father Fessio, whose previous academic positions include founding and serving as the first Director of the St. Ignatius Institute, University of San Francisco, and Provost of Ave Maria University in Florida.

"Many of these students attend community colleges for one or two years, and then transfer to a four-year institution. But how many truly excellent Catholic colleges are there to transfer into? And at what cost? Furthermore, it's the first years of a good Catholic college education that are the most important: the liberal arts foundation."

The Liberal Studies Program (LSP) curriculum combines distance education, online classes-- including a theology course nearing completion for full online access--and Ignatius Critical Editions Great Books and Study Guides, to provide Catholic high school students with the ability to earn college credit, while acquiring the foundations for a Catholic liberal education and lifelong learning. Participating students are homeschoolers, students in Catholic high schools, and other serious students ages fourteen and older.

"Great Books education is central to the LSP," notes Angelicum Academy President Patrick Carmack. "It takes its inspiration from the philosopher and renowned educator Dr. Mortimer J. Adler, the former Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Great Books of the Western World. Adler called for a reform of American education, which included providing many high school students college-level education in the liberal arts."

Fidelity to the teaching of the Catholic Church is fundamental to the LSP program. Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution on Catholic higher education, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, guides the program's understanding of the LSP's Catholic mission.

LSP is accepted for college-credit at Benedictine College (Atchinson, Kansas, USA); Campion College, Australia; St. Bede's Hall, Oxford, UK; Catholic Distance University; and many other colleges and universities.

"Many good Catholic families are blessed with talented children, but the costs of four years of private college are simply beyond their means," notes Father Fessio. "Or they don't want their children to be burdened with tens of thousands of dollars of debt when they graduate."

The costs of the LSP are a small fraction of the expense of traditional college education. A private, four-year college tuition and fees average $26,273 per year--over $100,000 for a four-year degree. With a coordinated course of study through LSP and its affiliates in the Universities of Western Civilization network of cooperating colleges, students can obtain a bachelor's degree with an accredited college for as little as $26,600--about a fourth of the cost of four years on campus.

"The LSP solves many of the problems of higher education at once," insists Father Fessio. "It's inexpensive. It provides up to two years of college credit. It challenges talented students, introducing them to the great books of Western civilization and the Catholic intellectual tradition. It provides the foundation necessary for any professional career. Young people have another year or two before having to decide on a major. And, not to be taken for granted: the LSP faculty is composed of talented, experienced Catholic professors, with at least one PhD in each class."

"And this is just the beginning," Father Fessio continues. "As the LSP grows, we intend to provide opportunities for students to complement their on-line studies with week-long, even month-long meetings with professors and other students. There are already plans for gathering at the centrally located campus of Benedictine College near Kansas City, and even at Benedictine's campus in Florence, Italy. Because the cost of the LSP is so modest, and because students will have much more control over their schedules, many, if not all, of the students enrolled in the LSP will be able to take part."

Classes for the Ignatius-Angelicum LSP begin the first week of September, 2010. To register, students should call 1-360-496-0098, text 719-930-7549, or email lspmail@aol.com. They may also learn more at www.liberalstudiesprogram.com. Students must have access to a PC and a phone line. High-speed internet is helpful but not necessary. Most students participate from home.

To interview Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., Chancellor of the Liberal Studies Program, please contact:

Rose Trabbic, Publicist, Ignatius Press
(239) 867-4180 or rose@ignatius.com