Once again, the point may seem a bit subtler, but I think just about everyone knows what we mean. Some parochial schools seem so intent on being all things to all people that they end up being almost nothing to anybody. By seeking to be mainstream, they end up becoming nondescript. Sometimes they seem almost embarrassed that the Church has religious beliefs; as if it were impolite, or as if the Good News were really the Bad News.
By contrast, Spiritus Sanctus Academies are anything but nondescript or embarrassed about being Catholic. Run by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, a burgeoning young order of women religious, these independent K-8 Grade Catholic schools located in Ann Arbor and Plymouth, MI, unapologetically put the Catholic Faith front and center in all they do -- with enthusiasm and joy. One cannot repress the memory, here, of G. K. Chesterton's bracing remark: "There never was anything so perilous or exciting as orthodoxy."
You see the difference the moment you set foot in their buildings. Every school day begins with Mass, with Eucharistic Adoration on First Fridays. Religious instruction is foundational to forming the spirit, and, by the same token, to forming the mind academically. You can immediately see the difference it makes by walking the halls, reading the essays posted on the bulletin boards, and talking to the students. They are enthusiastic and energetic but also respectful, articulate and intelligent. Academically they are second to none.
Part of their success is certainly due in no small part to the family-friendly environment and intense parental involvement that is everywhere in evidence, not only in helping kids with homework, but in helping serve lunch at school, providing faculty with snacks during their mid-morning break, sharing ideas over coffee and donuts with Sr. Maria Guadalupe, the energetic principal at the Plymouth school, helping out with transportation on field trips or with sporting activities after hours.
I can remember while I was growing up in Japan, my mother began teaching me to read English after I would come home from Japanese public school, when I was in the first grade. She used materials from the Calvert Correspondence Course based in Baltimore, MD. I don't know that I was particularly slow, but and I can remember learning my first words, which were about a boy named Dick, a girl named Jane, and their pet dog named Spot. As I say, this was in the first grade. Our daughter is currently attending Kindergarten at the Spiritus Sanctus Academy in Plymouth. I don't know that she's exceptionally bright, but half-way through her first year of kindergarten she's reading book-after-book on her own; and, just yesterday, I noted that one word she read without skipping a beat was "certainly." Not bad. Her teacher, Sr. Teresa Paul, must be doing something right. I have no doubts about her potential for academic achievement at Spiritus Sanctus Academy.
Even more than her academic advancement, however, I have been noticing something that brings me great joy. When I am driving with her in the car, our daughter will spontaneously begin singing religious hymns and songs she has picked up at school. Hearing her sing these songs -- Eucharistic hymns, Marian hymns (some of them with words in Latin), songs of gratitude for God's grace and mercy -- I cannot help but be profoundly grateful to the Lord for these little seeds and habits of faith planted so early in her heart and mind; and I have no doubt she is in the right place. She is in good hands. She is in the Lord's hands here.
Ann Arbor, MichiganOPEN HOUSE:
Principal - Sr. John Dominic O.P.
4101 East Joy Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Principal - Sr. Maria Guadalupe O.P.
10450 Joy Road
Plymouth, MI 48170
Open House: BOTH LOCATIONS!!
Same times at both locations: Tuesday, May 17th, 7:50-11:00 AM
7:50 AM - 8:40 AM Mass in the school chapel
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM Visiting Classrooms, Labs, Gymnasium, etc.
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM Coffee & tea with parents