The close of the Peace Corps’ first year in operation found it enjoying almost universal praise. Most significant was a shift in Congressional outlook. Last year, Congress treated the whole idea quite cautiously. Lately, however, the Administration has had no difficulty in winning a sharp boost in appropriations for the coming year. To date, the record has been one of generous response by American youth, creditable performance in the field and mounting acceptance abroad.
Recently, the topic of relatively light Catholic participation in the Peace Corps drew comment from several quarters. Director R. Sargent Shriver stated that “recruiting is a difficult job among Catholic college graduates.” Several explanations of this apparent disinterest immediately suggested themselves.
Dr. John B. Tsu, Peace Corps coordinator at Seton Hall University, attributes it in part to disappointment over the Corps’ refusal to enlist the services of already existing lay volunteer organizations doing similar work. He also expressed the view that extension of area-study programs on Catholic campuses would stimulate student interest in the plan. Fr. Gerard F. Fagan, S.J., coordinator at Jersey City’s St. Peter’s College, pointed to the fact that Catholic students have been traditionally attracted by the higher purpose of the Church’s overseas activities in the technical-aid and missionary fields.
With the Catholic college population on the increase, every worthwhile program should win growing support among a larger number of idealistic volunteers.