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Catholic Dictionary

Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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In its original meaning, an organized society of persons engaged in a common pursuit. And the term has returned to this in the Church's clearer understanding of episcopal collegiality, deriving from the community of the Apostles chosen by Christ. In the fourteenth century a college meant especially a group of secular clergy living on a foundation for religious service. As some of these communities began to engage in teaching, it came to denote a society of scholars formed for the purpose if instruction. With the rise of the teaching orders of religious in the Church, the meaning of college became standardized as institution of education, though not necessarily higher education as in some Anglo-Saxon countries. (Etym. Latin collegium, society of colleagues or companions.)

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