Pillar of faith sets St. Mary’s apart from secular schools
by Deacon Rob Rysavy
(Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series on the three pillars of St. Mary’s High School: Faith, Knowledge, Community.)
If you learn everything except Christ, you learn nothing. If you learn nothing except Christ, you learn everything.” — St. Bonaventure.
Years ago, St. Mary’s High School adopted three “pillars” to support the school in everything it does: Faith, Knowledge, Community.
Each of those words carries weight, and each word is important. However, the words of St. Bonaventure quoted above communicate why “Faith” is the first pillar listed. Furthermore, those words of St. Bonaventure also illuminate why Bishop James Golka recently stated, “I would love to see all our Catholic children enrolled in one of our excellent Catholic Schools.”
There is no shortage of secular education opportunities for children in Colorado Springs. The dilemma that modern parents are beginning to understand is that those secular education programs deliver exactly what St. Bonaventure predicted almost 800 years ago: “If you learn everything except Christ, you learn nothing.”
St. Mary’s High School, and the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Colorado Springs, give discerning parents the option to have both an excellent education and an education in the “everything” of Christ.
The central element of that “everything” of Jesus at St. Mary’s is a unique Theology curriculum constructed by department chair Father Joe Dygert and teacher Nate Rose.
The curriculum covers the many elements of the faith that young adults need (Scripture, sacraments, Church history, liturgy, etc.), and it covers those topics in a way that helps young adults navigate a post-modern world — a world increasingly hostile to Jesus Christ.
Father Dygert beautifully summarizes this approach, “We want our students to embrace the Catholic faith as not just a set of ideas to be memorized, but a person, Jesus Christ, to be encountered.”
Access to the sacraments is one of the vital ways St. Mary’s students encounter Jesus Christ. Weekly Mass is required, and daily Mass is offered in the school’s beautiful and recently updated St. Leo Chapel. Bishop Golka is a regular celebrant of the all-school Mass, and the next two opportunities to attend Mass with Bishop Golka at the school are at 11:45 a.m. on Feb. 15 and Apr. 19.
In the sacramental vein, Father Dygert also offers the opportunity for confession each week after the Friday morning Mass, and once each semester as many as a dozen local priests volunteer their time for a school-wide reconciliation service.
Each year the students enter into a retreat experience with their classmates, and each year has a different theme or approach. In their freshman year, the new high school students encounter Jesus in a one-day team-building retreat. Sophomore year includes a “pilgrimage” retreat, where students walk from the north end of Colorado Springs and conclude their journey with Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral celebrated by Bishop Golka. This year for the first time, junior students will experience a three-day Kairos retreat. The seniors close out their time at St. Mary’s with a two-day reconciliation retreat in the mountains.
As our community reflects on the conclusion of Catholic Schools Week, now is the perfect time to investigate what a “Faith, Knowledge, Community” education experience looks like. Visit the St. Mary’s “About Us” page at the school website: smpirates.org, or call Director of Enrollment Raquel Krasovec at 719-635-7540.
Take time to discover how a Catholic education is a “Faith, Knowledge, Community” investment in a child’s worldly and eternal lives.
(Deacon Rob Rysavy is the president of St. Mary’s High School)