Monday, February 22, 2010

My Number One Charity

One of the reasons why I started this blog was to try and get the word out about OLSWA - Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy. I have written quite a bit about the School's educational theory, etc., but I have not really done one thing central to my heart: sing the praises of my beloved school.

OLSWA is the only post-secondary school in Canada that provides integral Christian formation, that is not a seminary. It does this by providing good education in the central subjects of the Liberal Arts, by grounding it in the faith of the Church, and by providing a Christian environment for its students in which they may learn and develop.

You must help this school, because it is in serious financial straits. If this school disappears, which is quite possible, then the only 'Catholic' schools left in the country will be those that fall short in one or more ways from the above description.

Lots of schools provide good education but none in Canada provide education guaranteed to be faithful to the teachings of the Church, guaranteed to set students on the right path to greater fidelity to the Church. In many of these schools you just do not know what you are going to get - undergraduates don't know - how could they? - that is what there are there for: education. Many 'Catholic' schools are a mixed bag - some good teaching mixed in with a whole lot of heresy and error, error meant not to build up in truth, but meant to discourage commitment to Christ and His Church.

Nor is it just a matter of avoiding error. Education is good because integrating truth into one's life is good. Here at OLSWA our students study not only the great thinkers of the past: Shakespeare, Homer, and Aristotle, but they also study Scripture in a way that fully intends to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Saints and Fathers of the Church. We do not treat these as antiquated relics of the dead and foolish past, but as living spiritual and intellectual companions. Studying them in the right manner makes you better. In most schools you study them – if at all – in a derisive atmosphere. How often when St. Paul and St. Thomas are taught it is to show how sexist they were! I know: I studied for years in secular and heterodox settings. This fact alone makes OLSWA a gem of inestimable worth. We are not interested in furthering the agendas of feminist and homosexualists. We deal with their claims in an academic manner, but do not allow these errors to control our curriculum, as they do in public schools and in so-called Catholic schools.

All of this in a Christian environment. Many have heard the horror stories of dorm-life. These stories used to be few and far between. They used to be a fact of a few ‘party-schools’ celebrated in teen-movies. Now they are universal. OLSWA is not a convent or a seminary. It does not intend to provide that kind of formation. It does, however, intend to provide an environment conducive to learning and to progress in the Christian life. We have reasonable rules regarding dress code, the interrelations of the sexes, and we try our best to provide the graces of the sacraments. We have a very faithful priest as our chaplain and our relation with our wonderful parish is so good. Mass is available every day and confession is offered twice a week in the parish and twice a week at the school itself. We have a day of prayer of the entire school at the beginning of the year and make a pilgrimage to the Martyr’s Shrine every winter.

We are not a bible college or a house of formation. We are a serious academic institution. We believe in the goodness of knowledge. We do not believe faith is the only intellectual disposition beloved of God. We believe in faith and reason, that these are, as John Paul II said, the wings by which one ascends to God. Thus, we adhere to - and exceed - the quality standards of secular universities. Our students are simply better than their secular peers, because they receive a better education here, we provide an environment that allows them to do their best, and we motivate them with Christian virtues - the virtues that best equip them for success in life, both academically, inter-personally and professionally.

It is so frustrating that we have this amazing institution and yet it teeters on the brink of financial collapse. Do you know that the entire staff is on severe salary cut-backs? We believe in this school and we are going to do whatever it takes to continue to be able to offer true Catholic education. Please help us: get the word out about us. Tell everyone you know who we are and what we are going through.

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