AD2000 - a journal of religious opinionAD Books
Ask a Question
View Cart
Search AD2000: author: full text:  
AD2000 - a journal of religious opinion
Find a Book:

AD2000 Home
Article Index
About AD2000
Contact Us
Email Updates


Add Me
Remove Me

Subscriber Access:

Enter the Internet Access Key from your mailing label here for full access!


Drawing pupils to God through the true, the good and the beautiful

Bookmark and Share

 Contents - Feb 2013AD2000 February 2013 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: AD2000 25 years on: the challenges remain - Michael Gilchrist
Royal Commission: The Church in Australia faces moment of truth - Peter Westmore
News: The Church Around the World
Adoration: Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration embraced by Brisbane parish - Kate Hobbs
Parish Renewal: New springtime for Catholic faith at St Mary's, South Brisbane - Jenny Davies
Marriage: UK Family Court judge: why marriage is worth fighting for - Madonna Brosnan (ed.)
Events: iWitness Retreat: a celebration of young adult Catholic faith - Br Barry Coldrey
Religious freedom: The widows of Kandmahal: anti-Christian violence in India - Babette Francis
Schools: Drawing pupils to God through the true, the good and the beautiful - Rosemary Anderson
Grace: Indulgences: relics of the past or still Church teaching? - John Young
History: Parish life in the Middle Ages (Part 2): living under canon law - Frank Mobbs
Pilgrimage: Christus Rex Pilgrimage 2012: from Ballarat to Bendigo - Patrick Doyle
Letters: Church unity? - Richard Congram
Letters: Royal Commission - Arnold Jago
Letters: Shared faith? - John Frey
Letters: Secularist creed - Fr Bernard McGrath
Books: THE PASSION OF PERPETUA AND FELICITY, by Thomas J. Heffernan - Peter Westmore (reviewer)
Books: TAI CHI, REIKI: A Guide for all Christians, by Br Max Sculley FSC - Br Barry Coldrey (reviewer)
Fighting Fund: 2012 Fighting Fund update
Books: Order books from
Reflection: The cathedral: symbol of Christ's authoritative teaching - Bishop Michael Kennedy

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, based in Denver, Colorado, has nearly doubled its enrolment in one year after introducing a classical curriculum. "This is something people want, and they've wanted it for a long time, and now it's available," principal Rosemary Anderson told Catholic News Agency.

Our Lady of Lourdes is a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school. The parish priest, Monsignor Peter Quang Nguyen, had helped turn around a number of schools in the Archdiocese of Denver which had been in danger of closing. He was assigned to Lourdes five years ago.

When Msgr Quang hired Anderson to be principal in 2010, the school was in "quite a bit of debt" and had only 104 students enrolled. That figure is 180 today. The school's capacity is 235 and Anderson believes that by the next school year, "we'll have to start wait-listing kids."

"The biggest problem when I came on was that everyone thought the school was going under. The attitude has changed ... Now people know this place will be there, and their kids are getting a phenomenal education, and parents don't have to worry that it will close in a few years. I'm very grateful for Monsignor Quang's support. None of this would have happened if he wasn't completely on board," she added. "We were right in this together."

Dorothy Sayers' inspiration

The program at Lourdes school was inspired by 20th century author Dorothy Sayers' essay "The Lost Tools of Learning," and the work of Laura Berquist, who was involved in the founding of Thomas Aquinas College - a Catholic university in southern California which uses the classical model.

"She's a huge influence," Anderson said. "She founded a home schooling curriculum called 'Mother of Divine Grace' and is brilliant in the ways of classical education."

The foundation of classical education is a set of three methods of learning subjects, called the trivium, which is made up of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

The trivium "happens pretty naturally" using the classical curriculum, and ideas of grammar and logic and integrated into the subjects taught to students: "It flows naturally from the way teachers are teaching," said Anderson.

Five new teachers were hired in 2012, in a total faculty of 15. And out of those five, four have either had a classical education or taught in a classical school, Anderson explained. "I brought in people who know what the vision is ... they're confident in how to teach" classically.

Anderson noted that the school drew in numerous students who had previously been schooled at home. Several home schooling parents enrolled their children as this type of education wasn't available before. "Now they know there's something that will sync up with what they've taught" their children.

Parents at the school are very invested in the classical model, which she "welcomes completely." She pointed to the Catholic teaching that parents are the primary educators of their children, and that "we're just here to help them."

"The classical approach is Catholic, through and through," said Anderson. While "other schools are doing great things, no other Catholic schools in the diocese are doing this yet."

The school's re-organisation will be a three-year process. The first year, which occurred in 2012, involved a re-vamp of the English department and the introduction of Latin classes.

Latin was introduced in place of Spanish because of its importance as the basis of all Romance languages. Students "logically process things better when they know Latin," said Anderson. She pointed to high school freshmen who "test into honours French, without having had any French before, just by knowing the root language."

Latin is important for the grammar stage of the trivium because its nouns decline, or change their endings according to the functions they are performing in a sentence. This helps students to better understand how languages work, and it is coupled with the memorisation of poetry.

The second year of the school's rehabilitation in 2013 will consist of a renewal of science and social studies. "We're not necessarily changing the material we're teaching, but how it's given to the kids, which is a step away from dependency on textbooks," said Anderson.

Students will be reading more primary sources for history, and in English classes, reading historical novels to tie in with their history classes.

"All the classes are very intertwined. What they're reading in English should correspond to what they're learning in history, and in history should be able to carry over to the virtues they're learning about in religion, so it's all very integrated."

Fine arts

The holistic approach of classical education, meant to build up the whole person, translates to an emphasis on the fine arts. "We already had a great performing arts and speech department here ... so that was already very integrated," said Anderson.

The music and performing arts teacher, Patricia Seeber, is a veteran of the school, having taught there for 13 years. "The feel where we're at spiritually with the kids, that we're making that the most important part of the day, has shifted for the better," she said. "It just feels like they're really responding to it in a great way."

In keeping with the introduction of Latin into the curriculum, Seeber has added Latin hymns among the songs prayed at the school's bi-weekly Masses. "We raised the bar I think a step or two higher than a lot of schools do, and the kids really rise to the occasion."

Lourdes' classical education is meant to help the students realise their full potential "spiritually, intellectually and socially," and help draw them to God through the true, the good, and the beautiful.

With acknowledgement to Catholic News Agency.

Bookmark and Share

Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 26 No 1 (February 2013), p. 11

Page design and automation by
Umbria Associates Pty Ltd © 2001-2004