We live in a time of the downfall of education. The project of increasingly secularized public education has failed. Real learning is not cultivated by conformist federal mandates but in a return to family driven communities where subsidiarity is the guiding principle of intellectual formation.
Guided by this simple realization, John Paul the Great Academy was founded by a community of families in Lafayette, Louisiana who want their children to have a truly liberal education. The unfortunate reality is that any effort to return to subsidiarity in education is made increasingly difficult in a culture convinced that to the state belongs the first initiative with regards to the distribution of goods—even those goods which are intellectual and moral. This is the unfortunate reality in which John Paul the Great Academy now finds itself, and we need your help to save subsidiarity in education. Let me explain why I believe that in our school readers of The Distributist Review will find a very fertile ground on which to sow.
John Paul the Great Academy is an independent K-12 school which is dedicated to giving children a classical education founded upon the seven liberal arts. The explicit goal of the school is to prepare students to live excellent lives in accordance with intellectual and moral virtue, which in turn will dispose them more and more to the life of grace. The students at our school are taught not merely rote memorization of facts, but are encouraged rerum cognoscere causas; to understand the causes of things, which is wisdom. In so doing, we hope to help educate what Chesterton called “unpractical men;” that is, men who for their understanding of the underlying causes of things can diagnose the cancer present in the typically modern ideologies, as opposed to paying homage to mere “practicality” or “efficiency.” We understand that such an education is a fundamental way to fulfill our call to be an extension of the Incarnation, renewing the world around us.
We also understand that parents, not the state, have the first right and duty in forming their children, since the family precedes the state. That is why John Paul the Great Academy sees itself as a servant to the parents in our local community, working with them for the common goal of producing virtuous young men and women. The principle of subsidiarity thus guides the school on every level and informs both our philosophy of education and our everyday dealings with those whom we serve. We recognize that the only hope for changing the world at large is to focus on subverting the anti-culture around us by renewing true culture in our own homes and communities.
Our very young school (we are wrapping up our fifth year now) has already experienced great success in just such a renewal. Already, of the nine male graduates we’ve had thus far, five have become seminarians pursuing Holy Orders. We believe that this is the fruit of our holistic approach to education, in which students are shown that the created truth, goodness, and beauty which are the objects of all the liberal arts are ultimately all participations in the Uncreated Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. The recognition of this fact is what guarantees theological and philosophical sanity at our school and allows us to perpetuate the true spirit of a Thomistic synthesis in intellectual disciplines.
We take seriously the charge to educate and believe strongly that the principle of subsidiarity requires us to do whatever is necessary to provide our community with access to a truly excellent liberal education. We believe that everyone ought to have access to an education proportioned to persons as free rational beings, rather than mere training as future taxpayers. This means that we feel compelled to offer these services for a fraction of the price of many other private schools. This further means that we rely very heavily on the good will of people who share our vision. Last week, one of our biggest donors backed out as we were on the verge of securing the purchase of the property on which our school is located and providing new contracts to our faculty. The timing of this event is extremely unfortunate, because if we cannot secure the property by the end of June, the school will be forced to leave. We will also be unable to continue providing a just wage to the faculty. This would effectively close the doors to the school.
If this would have happened at the beginning of the year rather than now, I feel confident that we could have successfully raised the money we need from our community. The priests in our city, even those who oversee schools in their own parishes, have unabashedly supported our vision. However, we are having to reach out beyond our community simply because of the unexpected and urgent nature of the situation. Of course, we ask for your prayers in this uncertain time. We ask also that anyone who shares our vision, as I believe many of the readers of The Distributist Review do, would consider making a donation according to his means. Please visit the following link in order to do so: Support JPG. You can also learn more about the school by visiting JPGAcademy.org. Thank you for helping us continue to prove in our community that small is still beautiful.
Ad Majorem Dei gloriam.