JPCatholic Story

told by Dr. Derry Connolly

Why open a new Catholic university in Southern California in 2006?

On November 2nd, 2000, while visiting Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio I experienced something that would change my life. I saw a campus full of young Catholic students on-fire for the Lord. I had never seen that level of excitement about Jesus Christ by so many students on a college campus. Late on that evening, sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the Portiuncula chapel, I felt the Lord placing on my heart the request to build a university, like Franciscan, in San Diego.

My immediate answer to the Lord was NO - Impossible, a university is too big and too expensive. And I didn't know how to do it!

During the Summer of 2003, 3 key thoughts came together in my mind. First, I had just finished teaching a class on the start-up process for entrepreneurial high-tech companies to graduate and under-graduate students at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), I was strongly impressed by the passion the UCSD students had to go out and change the world by building successful technology based businesses. Next, I reflected with deep concern on the fact that the Catholic influence on the media was near rock bottom. The New media industry was rapidly evolving and maturing daily, and was poised to radically change the landscape of the media industry. Finally, contemplating the role of Stanford University in the growth of Silicon Valley, I was convinced that a Catholic university, centered on Jesus Christ, in the model of Franciscan University, must be a critical centerpiece to the Catholic resurgence in the field of media. San Diego, long a hub for innovation in new media enabling technology and geographically very close to the creative center of the industry in Los Angeles, was a great place to start.

I could no longer say 'NO' to the Lord, and JPCatholic was born on September 2nd, 2003. It would be a:

  1. a 'niche' Catholic university focussed on the culturally influential field of media, with
  2. the dynamic spirituality of Franciscan University, and
  3. the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of UC San Diego

Is there a need?

The higher education need is far outpacing the demands of the rapidly growing Catholic population of Southern California, which has grown from 1 million in 1950, to over 8 million in 2010.

Catholic Population by Diocese in Southern California

Catholics by Diocese San Diego San Bernardino Los Angeles Orange Totals
1950 161,000
1966 328,908
1980 474,186
2002 901,172 (30.5%) 943,898 (29.0%) 4,197,635 (38.2%) 1,110,508 (39.0%) 7,153,213 (35.7%)
2010 981,211 (31.5%) 1,237,000 (26.0%) 4,603,000 (39.7%) 1,280,159 (42.5%) 8,101,370