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Motivational Factor for Home-Schooling

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Part I:
Past History—Motivational Factor for Home-Schooling and Parent-Based Orthodox Family Schools

Reason for Change

Having felt the existing educational establishments available to them are inadequate, several families in Omaha, Nebraska have begun in their efforts to found St. Thomas Aquinas Academy, starting with grades 9 through 12 (see attached testimonial). As a result of spring meetings with parents brought together by word of mouth and by advertising in the Archdiocesan newspaper, a school board was formed for St. Thomas Aquinas Academy. Next we applied to the State of Nebraska for approval of our school and then met with the Most Rev. Daniel E. Sheehan, Archbishop of Omaha to inform him of our plans and rationale for the new school. Finally, we contacted an attorney to draft all necessary paper work for a non-profit corporation. By June, forty questionnaires had been sent to people who had voiced an interest in the school. The use of two closed school buildings have been made available for possible use by two generous priests. This work is nothing short of a grassroots effort occurring across the country by parents to reform education, particularly in regard to its religious and moral content.

Obstacles to Surmount

The problems to address are manifold and require almost superhuman strength, and certainly God’s grace to apply solutions. These problems include finding ways to protect children from indoctrination to mold their attitudes and beliefs along lines that are frequently at variance with the moral values and beliefs of their parents. Moreover, concerned parents must now contend with the prevailing belief in academic circles that the school’s duty, always supreme to its cognitive function, is to mold students’ attitudes and promote a world view called ethical indifferentism or relativism. In other words, parents are obliged either to devise their own schooling for their young or submit their children to the idea that, morally speaking, there are only opinions, none of which can be considered superior to any others.

Aside from ideological manipulation of students, there is also in conventional schools the lowering of academic standards and expectations and the obvious result of lowered test scores. Finally, there is the lack of a disciplined environment with emphasis on reverence and respect for God and His Church, the family, and our country. The result, in a milieu of permissiveness and secularization, is not the formation of Christian souls but unruly behavior, the loss of belief, and poor character development.

Part II:
Present Efforts to Bring to a Reality of St. Thomas Aquinas Academy

The high school will open in the fall of 1991 with one teacher-principal and 6 - 10 students. The materials will be Catholic in content which the students will use for study, and the curriculum will follow Our Lady of the Rosary Home School format for the first year.

Parents can expect that the academy will offer students individual attention from the instructor, a sense of belonging and participation, and a good atmosphere in which to learn and practice the Catholic faith.

Parents can also expect a clearly defined purpose of the school, always in harmony with the Pope and the Magisterium, and extremely strong involvement by parents as primary educators of their children, and an emphasis on spiritual formation and academic excellence.

Importance will always be placed on the use of orthodox teaching materials. Textbooks that force-feed students with arguments favoring such issues as feminism, sex education, Darwinism, and environmentalism will be rejected. Most important will be emphasis on the formation of students along orthodox Catholic thought in theology, philosophy, ethics and catechetics.

In brief, in order to replace a secularized education now found in Catholic high schools in Omaha, Nebraska, remedies will include those listed in the Declaration on Christian Education, (5, Second Vatican Council) which states that, “Parents have the primary and inalienable duty of educating their children, and must enjoy true freedom in choosing schools.” With this freedom, parents can, in good conscience, reject counterfeit Christianity, heavily drenched in psychology of self-esteem and a secular humanism that now prevails in too many Catholic parochial schools.

First and foremost, St. Thomas Aquinas exists for the following reasons:

  1. For the greater honor and glory of God (Ad majorem Dei gloriam).

  2. That students may know, appreciate and understand that they, as Roman Catholics, have been given a very special mission to the entire world--to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every living human being on the face of the earth.

  3. To teach students authentic and sound Catholic doctrine without ambiguity or confusion.

  4. To instill in students a sense of loyalty and obedience to the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ, who, together with all the bishops in union with him, form the visible head and ultimate authority in the Church.

  5. To provide our students with the intellectual and religious tools necessary to restore and renew the long lost art of Catholic apologetics. The Church, more than ever needs vigorous and strong defenders of the Faith.

  6. To restore in students a unique, distinctive, special and Holy Catholic identity which is slowly being devoured by the amorphous, dull conformity of relativistic pluralism.

  7. St. Thomas Aquinas Academy will inspire in its students a deep and abiding love for the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (Sanctum Sacrificium Missae). The Holy Mass is our critical expression of the mysteries of our Faith embedded deep within our souls.

Part III:
The Future for Our Family School

To meet the challenge of tomorrow’s youth, parents will, as the school grows, continue a curriculum faithful to the orthodox teachings of the Church and communicate the authentic teaching of the Faith to grade school students and even to kindergartners and pre-schoolers in time.

The three methodologies to be used:

  1. An orthodox Catholic education provided in a conventional classroom manner.

  2. An orthodox Catholic CCD educational program for youth, young adults and adults which will provide solid Catholic catechesis in religious formation.

  3. A resource center for home schooling parents to allow parents and children to use the library, the reference books, the maps, the text books, etc., to complete the education of their children. The resource center will facilitate the steps needed to eventual approval of the state to be a focal point for a support group, and to assist parents in instruction of their children in the Faith.

Other efforts will include an appeal to publishers to once again provide textbooks that are unashamedly Catholic in content.

To encourage unity and strength among like-minded Catholic parents, every effort will be made to join with Roman Catholic families across the country to collaborate with them for sharing information, ideas, books and materials.

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

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