“So, you’re the seventh Diocesan Catholic High School.”
“Yes, but specifically we’re a Dominican Diocesan Catholic High School.”
“Well, what’s the difference?”
“It’s not a difference. It’s a philosophy of education based on the four pillars of Dominican spirituality, prayer, study, community, and service.”
Prayer Fostering Faith
Liturgical prayer of the Church instructs us how to pray, as Jesus taught His disciples. The liturgical rites give us prayer words, often drawn directly from Sacred Scripture. The Liturgy of Church also teaches us to live well: to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit well, to nourish our souls well, to repent well, to be married well, to mourn well.
Sacramental rites confer and explain what they confer: we receive the life of God and learn about the life of God in us. As Catholic Christians we personally encounter Christ every time we come with our souls prepared to receive His life through the sacraments.
Personal prayer, such as meditation, is needed for every Christian, every person. Meditation prepares the ground for an ever-deepening friendship with God. When we meditate on an aspect of Christ’s life, we learn to value what is eternally important. As just one example, meditating on the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ helps us face our own suffering and death with hope of our own resurrection. Death loses its sting.
Study of Truth
Education prepares the student for a goal. Some schools want to prepare their students to be college and career ready. Our educational goal is to prepare the student for eternal happiness. Of course, they will learn English, Math, History, Science, and Languages and they will be ready to contribute to the culture of life in their workplaces and communities. But they will have the opportunity to study the deep truths of God, the deepest Truth that is God.
Ethics and Culture is the unique strand of our curriculum which instructs the students in a four-year course of philosophy. Using reason to understand the dignity of the human person, the students can think clearly about what will make them truly happy. This is the study of ethics. Reason and faith work together as two wings by which the mind rises to Truth.
Members of a Dominican school value community, and the family as the most necessary community of society. All students and staff are members of smaller houses within the larger school, practicing the virtues of kindness, magnanimity, and generosity. Sports teams are another place of community at JPII. All athletic success requires the virtues of discipline, perseverance, fortitude, and justice. Drama plays and music concerts unite students in creating and sharing performances that lift up the spirit.
Service as Disciples
Finally, students in a Dominican school have entered on the road of discipleship, and they are sent forth on a mission. What is the mission? To build up the culture of life, in this world and for the next world. The joy of being a disciple is that we get to use all our God-given talents and interests to attract others to the Gospel. The Good News that Jesus Christ has saved us through the power of His death is what we share when we serve. When we serve, we help human persons because of their inherent dignity.
“So, a Dominican school is not just rigorous academics?”
“Well, that too.”