First Catholic College in Arizona to start in 2006

.- The board of a proposed Catholic college in Arizona has announced that it is ready to start fundraising, reported the Arizona Republic. The College of John Paul of the Desert would be the first Catholic college in the state. The school would be built on 33 acres of land, donated by Paul and Katie Felix in 1999.

While construction for the project has not yet begun, a freshman class of about 550 students is proposed for fall 2006. Annual tuition will be about $11,000.

The school was designed six years ago to function as a non-profit public charity, formally approved by the Diocese of Tucson. But the diocese has been reluctant in providing official authorization, and last year the school failed to maintain its public charity status, reported the Arizona Republic.

The college has since become an independent private foundation, making it eligible to receive deductible contributions.

Gary Greenberg, president of the college, said those involved are committed to providing an opportunity for "seriously religious young people to finish their growing in a Catholic institution."

The school seems to have a fair chance for success based on demographic information.

According to a 2000 study conducted by the Ohio-based Glenmary Research Center, Arizona is one of the top 10 states with the highest Catholic growth rate; about 19 percent of Arizonans identify themselves as Catholic.

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