Saint Mary's College of California recognizes and welcomes its obligation to provide opportunities for all students, faculty and staff to know the Catholic faith. Our Statement of Mission addresses our Catholic heritage by calling us to affirm and foster the Christian understanding of the human person which animates the educational mission of the Catholic Church.

Church at S.M.COur Mission also states that Saint Mary's College promotes the dialogue of faith and reason; builds community among its members through the celebration of the Church's sacramental life; defends the goodness, dignify, and freedom of each person, and fosters sensitivity to social and ethical concerns.

In order to carry out this Statement of Mission more concretely, in Spring 2001 the former President of Saint Mary's College, Brother Craig Franz, F.S.C., created an ad hoc Catholic initiatives task force to identify the various existing programs and activities that address the Catholic tradition at Saint Mary's College and to establish an action plan for future directions. One of the action items of this task force was to establish an institute for Catholic thought and culture, whose core function would be to support the Catholic identity of Saint Mary's College as it emphasizes the integrity of the whole person in nurturing faith. The Institute would promote this identity throughout the curriculum as well as student life and services. It would be a resource for integrating faith and reason throughout the curriculum and the academy and support new scholarship on unity of virtue and integrity of the intellectual life. It would also promote and fund initiatives of its representative bodies including lectures, guest professors, retreats, seminars on how to orient offerings to the Catholic tradition, in-services which promote the formation of a disciplinary pedagogy, academic-based volunteer programs, and programs which develop the spirituality of members of the Saint Mary's College Community.

With this mandate, The Bishop John S. Cummins Institute for Catholic Thought, Culture and Action was formally established in February, 2003 by Brother Craig Franz, F.S.C. Brother Craig named the Institute in honor of retiring Bishop John S. Cummins who served the Diocese of Oakland for more than 25 years.