Catholic academy in Kentucky forms boys into men of faith through adventure – LifeSite

Help St. Andrew’s Academy offer an authentically Catholic boy’s education: LifeFunder

(LifeSiteNews) — All young people dream of adventure, of a noble and worthy pursuit, of an unexpected call to set out on a quest. You can, therefore, imagine my excitement and delight, when, as a young man, I received the following note:

I wonder if you might be in a position at this time to consider an adventure? For an adventure it shall be.

It was an invitation to join an effort to start a small Catholic boarding school for boys – an invitation one doesn’t receive every day! Of course, I gladly accepted, but did not realize this adventure was to set the course of my life to the point where I am now, by the grace of God, making the same invitations for the same sort of adventure.

READ: New traditional Catholic school provides boys with an authentically masculine education

Shortly after accepting that invitation for adventure, I found myself in rural Pennsylvania among a faculty of friends. The school we established, Gregory the Great Academy, was brought into being by the work of the late Dr. John Senior, and his students of the Integrated Humanities Program.

The lads at Gregory the Great read and discuss the great – and good – books, and study mathematics, history, Latin, and religion. But the academy offered more than quality academics – it provided a taste and template for a rich way of life to young men, filled with real and meaningful encounters with the good, true, and beautiful. Every boy, be he athlete or scholar, tried his hand at everything – at study, camping, raising chickens, rugby, reciting poetry, stargazing, sports, cooking, singing, and even juggling.

It was incredible to witness how the boys responded to this culture – how their love of the Catholic faith, integrity, character, understanding of themselves, and friendship with one another flourished in an environment that fostered physical, intellectual, and spiritual growth. And they were joyful.

My five years at the academy were as formative for me as they were for the boys. I came to understand the tremendous value of true, holistic Catholic education – that the future of the Church and our country depends on men who have learned to love what is loveable, and despise what is despicable. I resolved that, should God’s providence so direct me, I would found another school in the same spirit as the one I had witnessed bear so much fruit.

The workings of providence are mysterious and wonderful indeed. Four years ago, I was invited to perform folk music at a parish fundraiser in Kentucky. There I met a gentleman who had recently purchased a large rural property that boasted a mansion which had been struck by lightning and partially burned. He wanted to fix it up and put it to good use, and almost before I knew what I was saying, I told him I would like to use the property to found a boy’s boarding school.

A year later, on the feast of Saint Andrew, I received the call giving us use of the property, and Saint Andrew’s Academy was born – as a priest I know humorously remarked, “born of a lightning bolt and folk music.” I was off on an adventure of my own.

A faculty rallied around the cause I had undertaken – responding to the same call to adventure I had received many years before, and 12 young men traveled from around the country to form the first freshman class of Saint Andrew’s Academy and begin the school’s inaugural year in the fall of 2023.

These boys gave themselves wholeheartedly to the rich life of Saint Andrew’s – a life that seeks to address man as a whole. Throughout the year, the students not only studied subjects in a classroom, but also learned from what St. Augustine calls a “great book… the very appearance of created things.” They tended animals on a small farm, and through the practice of traditional trades such as leathercrafting, blacksmithing, and woodworking, they experienced the joy in imitating God as creator, bringing creation to a higher order. They learned to sing both sacred and folk music, and they memorized poetry.

In celebrating major feasts with school banquets, praying the daily Rosary, singing Compline together every evening, and serving the Traditional Mass, the boys at St. Andrew’s, like the boys at St. Gregory’s, entered into the life of the Church and came to better understand, appreciate, and love its beauty. And, of course, a happy absence of technology and the toxic influences of popular culture gave the boys the freedom to experience the deeper joy that comes from fulfilling man’s natural desire to wonder, reflect, converse, and develop friendship – all things that demand time and attention, but things that bore much fruit – and much joy.

It has been said that wonder is the beginning of wisdom, and the education at Saint Andrew’s Academy awakens a young man to the ever-present wonders of reality – inviting him to live, and to live fully, in the present. An overemphasis on school as being a preparation for the future tends to undermine the rich, beautiful potential and idealism of youth. The vocation of young men, as John Senior writes, is to “love the Maker and the things He made with their whole heart, mind, and soul as boys.” The best preparation for the future, for anyone, at any age, is to give oneself fully and generously to the present – because God is in the present!

Toward the end of the year, I received a short note from one of the parents:

I have to tell you something our son said. ‘Mom and Dad, I feel alive here!’ I thought that was an amazing comment. All boys should have this wonderful opportunity.

It was a successful maiden voyage – a firm foundation has been laid for the future years of the school!

I learned much from my time at St. Gregory’s, perhaps the most valuable being a lesson in Divine Providence – and I was taught this lesson under extraordinary circumstances. As a glorious and adventurous culmination of their time at the school, we would bring the seniors, after graduating, to walk hundreds of miles in Europe on pilgrimage. We brought no money with us, but placed our trust completely in the loving providence of God to sustain us. We never went a day without food. God truly does look out for and care for all the needs of his children – even if they want to start schools. Experiencing this reality firsthand gave me the confidence to set out on this new adventure in education – and again, with no money in my pocket!

This September we begin our second year at Saint Andrew’s, and we will be doubling our number of students! I turn to the generosity of kindred spirits for the funds we need to support the exciting growth of our school. Please help us reach our fundraising goal of $50,000 by making a tax-deductible donation on our LifeFunder page HERE.

I invite you to join in the adventure of Saint Andrew’s Academy – with your prayers and financial support!

May God bless you, and continue to bless our work at Saint Andrew’s Academy!

Help St. Andrew’s Academy offer an authentically Catholic boy’s education: LifeFunder

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