Fellow Catholics of Our Great Diocese,
We’re writing to you as the faculty and administration of John Paul the Great Academy, but we’re also writing you today as fellow Catholics of the Diocese of Lafayette. We are at a critical time in the history of our school, and we need the support of our Catholic community. It may seem an odd request to ask for support from Catholics throughout the diocese, many who already belong to great Catholic schools. Before considering the request, I ask that you please take a moment to hear a little more about our school and why classical, Catholic education is worth saving.
What is John Paul the Great Academy?It is a small, Catholic college preparatory school. We are a PK-12 independent school implementing a classical curriculum, an educational model developed and handed down from the tradition of the Church. An important aspect of the character of our school is that we are not a competing alternative to parochial schools. In fact, our whole student body (from PK-12) makes up only a small fraction of the student body of most Catholic schools. Founded upon the model of a classical, Catholic education, our school is small and will remain so. Subsidiarity is a foundational principle that guides the school on every level. Our goal is not to take away from parochial schools (schools attached to a parish) but rather to work alongside these great Catholic schools in the mission of the Incarnation: to renew the world.
Why is classical, Catholic education so important and what does John Paul the Great Academy contribute to our overall Catholic community?The Catholic Church has been the strongest patroness and steward of the best Western culture has to offer: we began hospitals, we started the first charities, we supported and preserved the arts and sciences, and we founded education as we know it today. Throughout the history of the Church, classical education based on the seven virtues and seven liberal arts has been given a unique place among approaches to the overall formation of students. Like St. Thomas is to philosophy and Gregorian chant is to liturgical music, classical education is the model par excellence for formation of the person in the Church.
While a uniquely classical education may be historically important, what does it really do for our Catholic community here in Acadiana? The most striking contribution is in the form of fostering vocations. In the first four years of operation, over half of all of our male graduates have entered seminary formation for our diocese (five of the nine male graduates are currently seminarians for the Diocese of Lafayette). Currently, several of our students are actively discerning with the office of vocations. The presence of a community of religious nuns on campus is also doing wonders for our discerning young ladies (click here to read one student’s experience of discernment here at JPG). Among our other graduates are striking young men and women of faith that serve our Catholic community through their bold commitment to the Gospel. A classical education is not the only soil that nourishes vocations, but this soil has proven extremely fertile throughout the history of the Church and especially in the life of the academy.
Along with the fruits of our students, John Paul the Great Academy also has produced fruits that benefit the greater community. As mentioned previously, we house an order of religious nuns, the Preachers of Christ and Mary. These nuns don’t just serve the needs of our school; they serve the community at large. Additionally, Louisiana Right to Life’s Center for Medical Ethics is an affiliated organization of the school working in the Pro-Life movement focusing on end of life issues. We also house a perpetual adoration chapel for adorers that may not have the benefit of adoration in their own parish. The focus of our academy is on forming our students to be virtuous and devout servants of our Lord, and in this focus we as a school community enter into serving the needs of the Church well beyond our campus.
Thank you for taking a moment to learn a little more about our school and the community that surrounds it. Our administration and faculty join all Catholic educators in our diocese to preserve and promote the traditions of the Church through love of Christ and witness to His gospel. Our students, families, and supporting community join us in living boldly the new evangelization. But we currently face dire circumstances that jeopardize the continued operation of the Academy in preserving the De La Salle campus as a home for Catholic education. We risk losing much and turn in need to the prayerful support of our Catholic community.
Thank you for being part of the incredible community of faith that we call home, and thank you for your prayers and support in this time of need.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
The Faculty and Administration of John Paul the Great Academy
Click here for PDF of letter.