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Catholicity can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. At St Augustine, we understand "Catholic" to mean:
Local & Universal
St Augustine is located at a vital centre of the African continent; it draws life and meaning from its African origins and renders its educational vision relevant, in particular, to South African context. But it also functions within a Catholic Intellectual Tradition which extends beyond localities and seeks to engage with all ages and cultures in its universal pursuit of the whole truth. We do so within a consortium of Catholic Universities on the African continent (ACUHIAM) and worldwide (IFCU), many of which are among the most highly ranked universities in the world.
The fact that St Augustine is a Catholic institution does not mean it is exclusivist or parochial. On the contrary, our rootedness in the Catholic ethos allows us to be truly open to people of all faiths (or none), of all cultures, ethnicities, and social statuses. To be 'Catholic' in an academic context means to search for the 'truth running through everything' in order to better understand the here and now and, ultimately, to enable its transformation.
Traditional & Contemporary
Established on the edge of the new millennium (1999), St Augustine seeks to address both perennial and contemporary questions of human life and quest for meaning. It does so cognisant of an age old tradition of learning, what we call the 'Catholic Intellectual Tradition', yet fully engaged with contemporary methods of research and ennquiry relevant to the challenges of our day. Thus it aspires to bring forth 'Wisdom ever ancient, ever new' (St Augustine of Hippo).
Holistic & Personal
The concern of St Augustine extends to the individual within the entirety of their personal development, while always keeping in mind needs of a broader community. The integration of personal gifts, requisite skills, social awareness, critical appraisal as well as respect for the human person's dignity and spiritual growth form a comprehensive whole directing the formation of each student. The small student numbers, personalised tuition, committed faculty staff, and accommodating facilities likewise insure that the needs and concerns of each student can be addressed. At St Augustine we see that mission of making the whole person grow as organically connected to our service towards the entire academic community, local communities as well as the South African society at large.
Ethical & Critical
Our mission at St Augustine is underpinned by the following values: human dignity (the freedom and dignity of the individual); solidarity (mutual connection, inclusiveness and obligation to each other); stewardship (responsibility and accountability for the common good); justice (including the preferential option for the poor); critical realism and creative, imaginative thinking. Feeling responsible for the shape of the young South African democracy, we address critically – in our teaching and research – basic social problems such as the marginalisation of Africa and its peoples, unemployment, social insecurity, poverty, land issues, democratisation, and human rights violations. Our educational offerings respond to the need to form reflective citizens able to participate fully in democratic process and cultural development, and in particular to the need for ethical leaders able to face the challenges of corruption, HIV/AIDS, poverty, and education with integrity and courage.
Missional & Mystical
St Augustine exists for the service of its students. It seeks to educate them so that they can become morally responsible leaders who, in turn, will be of service within their own communities, South African society, and indeed the world community. Put simply, our mission is to prepare our students to embark on their own life missions, in which – by thinking critically, acting wisely, and working skilfully – they will be the advocates of service to the common good.
While open to people of all faiths or none, the educational mission of St Augustine emerges from and remains informed by our own Christian roots, including its deepest, mystical, dimension. Inherent in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition is an openness to the transcendent [i.e., 'existing beyond'], which believers identify with God. Far from proselytising, we attempt to make our students aware of the possibility of relationship with that transcendent dimension of reality through which wisdom and compassion may come to ground all human endeavour and mission.