3 Pillars of Catholic Education Pt. II

Part II of abbreviated from remarks given at “Theology on Tap” for NWA Catholic Young Professionals- August 28, 2017.  The focus of the remarks are toward young professionals (young parents or future parents) and need for Catholic Education, particularly in the 21st century.


The roots of Catholic education at least in a formal sense is built upon the church’s medieval models.  The monasteries of old built an education of heart and mind for their religious. Slowly it welled up and spilled over to the aristocracy.  Consider St. Thomas More, a Renaissance Christian humanist, who aspired education for all of his children, including his daughters. His desire was more than reading and writing and encompassed a passion for his children to be truly free and fully human. 

Note that “the call” that Thomas More lived in his public life was as a husband and father to serve the crown of England in his best possible way.  The unorthodox life at home in educating all of his children, was also his calling. It was not for the world to see or for him to bring to the world. Rather it was within his “little platoon” that he had the most influence toward education for the whole person, his witness or role model of fatherhood, husbandry, public servant, and perhaps most important as a friend and follower of Christ.

 In 1521 St. Thomas More wrote a letter to his daughter:

“My darling Margaret, I indeed have never found you idling – and your unusual learning in almost every kind of literature shows that you have been making active progress – so I take your words as an example of the great modesty that makes you prefer to accuse yourself falsely of sloth rather than to boast truly of your diligence; unless your meaning is that you will give yourself so earnestly to study that your past industry will seem like indolence by comparison. If this is your meaning, my Margaret, and I think it really is, nothing could be more delightful to me, and more fortunate, my sweetest daughter, for you.

Though I earnestly hope that you will devote the rest of your life to medical science and sacred literature, so that you may be well furnished for the whole scope of human life (which is to have a sound mind in a sound body), and I know that you have already laid the foundations of these studies, and there will be always opportunity to continue the building; yet I am of the opinion that you may with great advantage give some years of your yet flourishing youth to humane letters and so-called liberal studies. And this both because youth is more fitted for a struggle with difficulties and because it is uncertain whether you will ever in the future have the benefit of so sedulous, affectionate, and learned a teacher. I need not say that by such studies a good judgment is formed or perfected....”

It is not for us to educate toward a job, a career, but the education one receives, earns and struggles for will allow one to grow in high judgment, prudence, and logic…thus leading to fulfill one’s vocation while doing something professionally.  

Dr. Robert Oppenheimer and others of the Manhattan Project were not called, it was not their vocation to build an atom bomb, but rather to understand the truth of physics, particles, and the how the smallest particles of the world in which we live interact and move. The Manhattan Project was an outcome of this calling, not necessarily asked by God, but the use of man’s free will and prudence in building such device and the creating the world in which nuclear weapons but also physics exist today.  Those educated who receive a Catholic education, will be challenged in rigorous academic studies, as well as gain insights into reality.  We hope to give them an understanding of right mindedness, the use of prudence or ultimately what to do with the knowledge they gain.

*We are grateful to UV Images for allowing our use of two photos in this post.