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District Superior's
Letter to Friends & Benefactors

July 2010

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

Helping families educate their children, especially by the running of schools, has long been a priority of the Society of St. Pius X.

There are currently 25 schools throughout the United States District. The District Department of Education, under the direction of the First Assistant, Fr. Gerard Beck, is working hard to improve the teaching in our schools, the formation given, and even the discipline in place— everything related to the education of the children. For a number of years now those priests who are principals of our schools have met each summer to strengthen, through their experience, the work being done. Teachers’ meetings and retreats have also been organized, and this year, for the first time, regional teachers’ seminars will be held across the country to help unify the minds and work in our schools. There is still much to do, but over the years much progress has been made.

One of the main objectives of our schools is obviously to arm and to protect our youth from the corruption of the world. The students receive a moral formation in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. This moral formation must be, according to the directives laid out by Pope Pius IX, grounded in doctrine, on the mysteries and commandments of our Catholic Faith:

In these schools especially, all children of every class of the people, even from their tender years, are to be carefully instructed in the mysteries and precepts of our most Holy Religion, and carefully formed both to piety and moral virtue, and to religious and civil culture: and in these schools religious doctrine in particular ought to hold so primary and dominant a place in instruction and education, that all other kinds of knowledge which are there imparted to the young, should plainly appear to be merely accessory to this. Quum non sine (July 17, 1864)

Religious and moral formation is the most obvious, but not the singular, goal of our schools. We also strive to give the children an intellectual and cultural formation. For some parents, this goal would seem to be of relatively little importance. The constant teaching of the popes on education, however, stresses the contrary.

The youth need to be enlightened, to have their minds led towards the Truth—not just the divine truth of Revelation, but natural truths as well. They must learn to apply themselves in order to discover and love the beauty of truth, to recognize and avoid error and false opinion, and to acquire, above all, a judgment that is properly formed.

This formation takes work—hard work. It involves the study of languages—one’s mother tongue firstly, but when possible, other languages as well, especially Latin, the language of the Church.  It involves likewise the study of the liberal arts. Through literature, for example, we come to know the whole of the created world, and human nature with both its weaknesses and beauty. We learn to judge what is right or wrong, true or false. It is a whole formation based on Christian philosophy and on divine revelation, a formation enlightened by them and leading to them.

... it has to be given to youth entrusted to Catholic schools, an instruction in letters and sciences, fully in accordance with the special requirements in our time, but at the same time, strong and deep... Pope Pius XI, Divini ilius Magistri (December 31, 1929)

One of the great failures of the current public education system is the deterioration of general education. Today’s youth come out of high school and even college, with very little knowledge  or understanding of world history (even the history of their own country!), of geography, of the great works of literature… Their comprehension is limited, as is their ability to reason. This is attested to even by official assessments of schools today.

The Catholic Church has always strived to provide a good general education at all levels, from elementary school through college, for this is essential to becoming a truly educated Catholic and citizen. The learning required is not easy; it demands real intellectual effort from the students, a personal initiative that we find more and more difficult to obtain from them.  But it is imperative that our schools continue to be diligent in giving, even perfecting this intellectual and cultural formation.

Another aspect of education that cannot be overlooked is the education of the will. It is as important as the formation of the mind – perhaps more so.

In education, if one neglects the will, focusing all efforts on the cultivation of the mind, he will transform this instruction into a dangerous weapon in the hand of the wicked, because such intellectual arguments, when added to malicious penchants of the will, may give them a force against which it is impossible to resist.   Leo XIII: In mezzo, June 26, 1878

There is nothing more disappointing and even frightening than a weak, apathetic youth.  It is the modern environment that creates such feeble human beings, especially by sloppy education.

The only answer to this very real danger is to implement discipline in both home and school—strong discipline, especially as regards duties. At home, it is not easy for parents to be constantly after their children to keep their rooms tidy, to take their homework seriously, to be on time, to be disciplined in whatever they undertake. It is, however, absolutely necessary.

In schools, this same discipline must be obliged, not only in the work done, but also in the children’s behavior towards others, in their dress, in their manners… Such constant discipline is the only way to form the will, thereby giving the children for life the most useful formation and gift they can receive.  Without will power, how will they be faithful to God, Who is far more demanding than any teacher—telling us that we must become saints?

In conclusion, my dear brethren, I wish to express our will to continue working with all parents and of course, teachers, to provide an ever improving education to the children entrusted to us.

In educating children—naturally in collaboration with the family, whose function is essential - you must have the conviction to perform one of the most noteworthy works. Perhaps the results of your work may not be evident, but it requires a great effort and a spirit of the apostolate which is among the most beneficial for the fate of the Church and the homeland. Allocution of Pope Pius XII Allocution (December 30, 1953)

I take this opportunity to thank all those who dedicate themselves in this noble task.

May God bless you, and may Our Blessed Mother protect you always.

In the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

Fr. Arnaud Rostand

 
 

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