St. Augustine Prep Blog
St. Augustine Prep – A Training Ground for Virtue
Mr. Brendan Towell | Associate Director of Admissions
One of the unique approaches of a St. Augustine Prep education is the intentional endeavor to reclaim the concept of the Christian Gentlemen for our students. This ideal is closely related to the Medieval notion of the noble knight – the epitome of positive Christian masculinity. This image flies in direct contrast to the more dumbed-down version of maleness, which has been on regular display in popular culture for at least two generations (insert any TV husband or father you can think of from Homer Simpson to Al Bundy). The recovery of chivalric notions of fidelity, honesty, courtesy, prowess, and generosity, as well as the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance, are exactly what our boys need in order to help them to reclaim their place as positive contributors in our society.
A very succinct text, which can be helpful here, is the 1940 essay by Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis entitled, The “Necessity of Chivalry”. In the essay, Lewis laments the loss of the chivalric ideal and asks the question many of us may be asking right now when he inquires, “How can the promotion of a noble knight be of any significance now, in our contemporary time?” This was no doubt a fair enough question when it was written and remains so now. Never one to leave his readers in a lurch, Lewis goes on to answer his query by saying, “Nothing could be more relevant. It may or may not be practical but it is relevant. And while the practice of it may be hard to achieve, it should be seen as practical, as practical as the fact that men in a desert must find water or die.” The “Necessity of Chivalry” weaves together two ideals for the Christian Gentleman – men who can deal in “blood and iron” and defend against the “wolves” of their day, and men who are humble, genteel, and “meek in the hall.” Lewis ends the essay with a sobering reminder, clearly contextualized for his 1940s audience, that it is often when society believes the wolves have become extinct (and therefore we have no need of the knight) that they return from the shadows and show their teeth once more. One can only hope we have men ready in our own time.
If we are honest with ourselves, the pandemic took a lot away from our kids, but the societal shifts away from traditional values ( especially positive masculinity) in education and popular culture, have been in motion for a long time. For years now, our children have been told by the media, and in some cases their own schools, that, unlike previous generations, theirs is a generation of pure self-invention. They get to decide what is really right or wrong, moral or immoral because they are all that matters – them and no one else. People who have this mentality are far closer to being one of Peter Pan’s “Lost Boys” (who never want to grow up) than being a Christian Gentleman versed in the way of knightly chivalry and prepared to sacrifice for the good of their faith, family, and nation. The real problem, however, is that life isn’t a movie or a TV show and therefore our boys will become men soon enough. The question then becomes, where do we want our boys to learn to become men? Where can we send them to practice chivalry and train in the ways of virtue, while simultaneously mastering the academic subjects of the day and participating in premier athletic programs?
The best option available which meets the needs of the families of South Jersey is St. Augustine Preparatory School. Our offering of male education, enveloped within the mission of its Augustinian and Catholic tradition, is part of the reason so many families are demonstrating a renewed interest in private Catholic education generally and becoming Hermits more specifically. The 2021-2022 school year saw an increase in enrollment of 3.8% in Catholic schools nationwide. Localize this growth, and you will see that St. Augustine Prep launched an inaugural Hermits 8th Grade last year and the 2022-2023 Freshman Class entered this Fall as the largest class on campus! This growth speaks to the educational philosophy at the Prep and the unique ways in which we, as Augustinian Educators, approach our vocation.
I imagine that at this point you are eager to understand exactly how St. Augustine Prep is different and what it is exactly that we do differently. There is no easy way for me to describe what we do – you need to come and see it for yourself. If you are a prospective family or someone who knows a young man who would make a fine addition to our community – come visit us. Book a family tour or schedule your son for a full school day visit by following the link HERE. Check out our YouTube Channel to see what a passionate and enthusiastic Hermit Brotherhood looks like or review the academic offerings by exploring the 2022-2023 St. Augustine Prep Course Catalog.
St. Augustine Prep is excited to offer an educational experience that will allow its students to become the men God has been calling them to be. For more information email us at Admissions@Hermits.com or speak to a member of our Admissions Team at 856-697-2600 ext. 149.
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