Many will recognize this quotation as that of St. Irenaeus, the second century bishop of Lyons. It is also the motto of a new school in the Philadelphia suburbs, Martin Saints Catholic High School. With pleasure I bring to your attention the exceptional approach with which this new venture is fortifying Catholic education.
First, the name. Did you know that the parents — Louis and Zelie Martin — of St. Therese Lisieux (the Little Flower) are the first husband and wife to be canonized as a couple? This occurred in 2015. The founding of their eponymous school followed two years later.
As the school’s website (www.martinsaintsclassical.org) explains, it is a member of the Chesterton Schools Network (see www.ChestertonAcademy.org). As such, its purpose is “to nurture the minds and the souls of our children through an integrated education. We believe that all truths are related to the central truth of the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Faith and reason do not contradict one another. Indeed reason leads to faith. Through the study of art, music, literature, language, history, mathematics, science, philosophy and religion we want to prepare our children to think both rationally and creatively, to defend their faith, to contribute positively to society, and to promote a culture of life.”
Founded on the conviction of the unity of truth, the curriculum at Martin Saints is rigorously classical and is taught through the lens of the Catholic faith. Pointedly, it integrates the humanities, the arts and the sciences to demonstrate how they are intimately connected and how God’s handiwork is manifested in all. Each student is required to study or participate in literature, history, philosophy, theology, language, mathematics, science, music, art, gymnastics and craftsmanship.
In this, its first full year, Martin Saints has a freshman class. The intention is to add the sophomore, junior and senior classes over the next three years. While the size of the student body will be small the impact of its graduates on society will be large for they will be well versed not just in the “whats” and “hows” of life but also the “whys.” More importantly, they will be well grounded in the Catholic faith and able to demonstrate to the poorly catechized how it embraces and comprehends every aspect of life.
Beyond this, though, having been schooled in Christian classicism, they will recognize and help reverse the downward spiral of what today is presumptuously referred to as western culture.
St. Irenaeus will surely be pleased that God is being so glorified.
Dana Robinson is chair of the board of trustees of the National Catholic Community Foundation.