1) Formation: The mission of a school is, or at least should be, not just intellectual or vocational education but formation of the whole person (spiritual, human, intellectual). Formation is drawing near to Jesus and listening to Him; it’s being present at the foot of the Cross. The three most enlightened souls in the early Church (Our Blessed Mother, St. John the Beloved and St. Mary Magdalene) understood that both were necessary. We draw near and listen by our daily prayer, our attentiveness in class, and obedience to directors. We are present at the foot of the Cross first and foremost by our daily participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but also by our personal sacrifices offered in love and our patient acceptance of the trials God permits.
2) Contemplative Life: This goal is accomplished primarily through the culture and spirit of the school. The school should be conducted in such a way as to foster and promote, whenever possible, the contemplative life. It is necessary therefore, to cultivate a spirit of silence and a sense of wonder as both are essential to this kind of life. Schedules and school activities should not be burdensome or exhausting, nor should they take away significantly from time spent with family. Students should have ample freedom to explore their own good pursuits, either at the school or outside, cultivating a spirit of play characteristic of divine Wisdom (Prov. 8:30). This leads students to view learning properly as leisure rather than a task that begins at the start of the school day and ends at dismissal. This culture and spirit of the school is far more important than any other worldly measures of success and it should never be sacrificed or even impaired no matter what other gain might result. This emphasis on culture and spirit leads to several practical conclusions:
a) The Sacramental and Liturgical Life of the Church is foundational to this life. The school schedule (regularly and on special days) should never interfere with the ability of any students, faculty, or staff to attend Holy Mass. The Sacrament of Penance should be made available regularly and the school should provide opportunities daily for both public and private prayers and devotions.
b) Since God also wrote two books, revelation and creation, and we must read both, time outside is essential. Students should frequently go outside for class and school activities, and be encouraged to do so during free time if compatible with their chosen pursuits.
c) The school should raise only enough money to pay its employees and fund basic necessary materials and activities. The latest and greatest in technology, sports equipment, facilities or many other fine things are not necessary for a good formation and at times have been observed even to hinder it. But more importantly, the time and energy devoted to raising funds for such things is much better spent on personal relationships with members of the school community (students, parents, teachers) if such a spirit is to be more effectively fostered and nurtured.
d) Students ought to approach this opportunity for formation with profound gratitude. While patience and mercy can and should be exercised towards those who show evidence of remorse for bad conduct and an intention to improve, those who repeatedly show disdain or disregard for this opportunity must not be permitted to remain and poison the culture of the school.
e) A school represents a community of learners, a community where members can all come together to continue their pursuit of truth. There should be frequent opportunities for all members to model this ideal through the exchange of ideas, lectures, debates, etc.
3) Responsibility: The primary agents of this formation are the parents, and they are intimately involved in this process, regularly communicating with their children (not primarily the school) about what is taking place in their lives. This role likewise imposes on each student the necessity of openly sharing with his/her parents all that is taking place at the school, both generally and with regard to him/her in particular, promptly and frequently. Because of the centrality of the students and their families, students must assume full responsibility for their actions and grades. The school or the teachers are there to assist in their development, but not take over their lives.
4) Vocation: Each child is an individual. “Success” may mean something different for one child than it does for another. The school should not have the same type of worldly goal in mind for each student (e.g. college acceptance, a certain SAT score or GPA, etc.), but should assist the student in discerning his vocation and cooperating with God’s grace and the inspirations of His Holy Spirit. How faithfully a student does the latter should be the only metric by which the success of our school is judged.
*By these four principles, the formal, efficient, material, and final causes are understood respectively.