Mission and Values
Catholic Mission and Values
St. Thomas More Academy is the first independently governed Catholic school in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. We have been granted canonical recognition as a Catholic school in accord with CIC/83 canon 803 §1
St. Thomas More Academy’s mission is to serve Michiana families by forming children in truth, wisdom, and authentic freedom. STMA aims to set its students on a lifelong quest:
- to know God, themselves, and the world;
- to live according to their identity as children of God in Christ;
- to love God above all things;
- to continually develop their intellects, wills, and affections;
- to be true friends;
- to serve their neighbors and the common good;
- to carry out their unique mission in God’s providential plan;
- to do all of this for God’s glory.
To this end, STMA provides a rigorous classical liberal arts curriculum that is rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition and centered on the daily offering of the Mass. From this core, the Academy transmits Christian culture to and through its students, teachers, school leaders, and parents, fostering an apostolic community of friendship in Christ.
Freedom for Excellence
STMA seeks true freedom for its students. This is a freedom from ignorance and sin, rooted in knowledge of our identity as children of God in Christ. It is also a freedom for excellence, found in the lifelong work of developing our intellects, wills, and affections through the intellectual and moral virtues and in the activities of knowing and loving truth, goodness, and beauty.
The Interdependence of Faith and Reason
Faith and reason are two lights that profoundly depend upon each other. The light of faith is necessary to bring a person’s power of reasoning to its full potential and to open it up to its true horizon. And faith only takes deep root in strong minds that are able to see reality clearly. STMA strives for academic excellence, which is measured not by standardized test scores, but rather by true understanding and mastery of our classical liberal arts curriculum. By helping our students master the curriculum, we want to form scholars who think clearly and precisely and who also see the big picture and spiritual depths of what they are thinking about or doing. We aim to help our students see the logos in each created thing and in the events of history, so that they may better know and love the Logos in whom all things were made.
A free and human life involves a daily search for wisdom. STMA cultivates the habit of wonder in our students because a lifelong search for wisdom is driven by wonder. Through our experiences of wonder, especially as children, we learn for ourselves that authentic happiness is found in understanding God, ourselves, and the world more and more deeply. Our students will develop a lifelong love of learning rooted in wonder and an awareness that the quest for wisdom is never finished in this life.
True freedom is found only in Christ, and Christ remains with us in the Catholic Church, especially in the Sacraments, Scripture, and Tradition. The Holy Mass is the source and summit of STMA’s plan of education. Our curriculum and pedagogy are informed by Scripture, the teaching of the Magisterium, and the intellectual tradition of the Church, and they are rooted in a Catholic anthropology. And in order to form children in freedom and virtue, we must transmit the traditions of Catholic culture since, borrowing the words of T.S. Eliot, “culture is the incarnation of religion.”
Parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children and STMA aims to partner with parents in carrying out their sacred duty. STMA takes our responsibility to parents very seriously and asks that parents give us the trust and freedom needed to do our work well. We cultivate a familial environment in which children know they are loved unconditionally and find their teachers and school leaders to be models of holiness. We support parents in protecting their child’s innocence. We offer formation for parents as well as children, and we seek to involve the parents and siblings of STMA students in the life of the school.
We grow in freedom and virtue through friendship, and friendship is one of our highest callings as human beings. STMA encourages and facilitates friendships among students, teachers, school leaders, and our families.
Growing in wisdom and freedom, in a community of friends, for the sake of God’s glory, brings true happiness. STMA teachers, school leaders, and students all seek to cultivate the habit of cheerfulness and to sow a joy and peace that is rooted in reality.
Inspired by the parable in Matthew’s Gospel (cf. Mt. 25:23), STMA aims to form faithful servants of God and neighbor. STMA students will learn that they have a unique mission to fulfill in God’s providential plan for the salvation of the world, even if their role in the Body of Christ remains a mystery during their lives.
The highest human act is to worship God and all of our human talents and activities are for the praise of His glory. By the example and encouragement of their teachers and friends, STMA students are taught to daily seek God’s glory, rather than their own.
Habit of Attention
The habit of attention is not simply the ability to focus, but rather a way of looking at one thing as if it were the only thing. It is the loving attention that we give not only to school subjects, but even more importantly, to our friends, and to God in prayer. One of STMA teachers’ most important jobs is to lead our students into this state of attention by giving it to them, as well as to the subjects that they are teaching. As Stratford Caldecott writes, borrowing from Simone Weil, “The attentive concentration on that which is sought and desired unites teacher and pupil through the presence of the ‘third,’ which is the living truth (the ‘content,’ if you like) not yet possessed and yet somehow invisibly present, implicit in the relationship itself. The relationship is what makes the truth flow. We learn because we love. The teacher’s job is to bring about that relationship, that state of attention, or to be aware of it and nurture it when it arises, by loving the child” (Beauty in the Word, 31).
St. Thomas More and Our Vision
STMA’s students are educated to imitate our patron in his generosity, magnanimity, cheerfulness, and fortitude, and to offer their lives in loving service of God, their neighbors, and the common good. As we help our students grow, we look to three of St. Thomas More’s educational principles:
- Virtue must be put in the first place, and learning in the second. If one’s loves are disordered, it is impossible to see reality clearly.
- Every human being has inclinations to truth, goodness, and beauty that are part of the nature of the soul. But these are given as seeds to be developed, and because of original sin, contrary inclinations impede them. The work of education is to cultivate the garden of the soul, planting and nurturing true principles and noble loves, and constantly weeding out pride, ignorance, sloth, and all other vices.
- Children must be taught “to seek not praise, but utility” (“Letter to William Gonell,” 1518). In other words, we do not want our students to be ultimately motivated by the desire to impress others. We want them to love learning because it is an essential aspect of being human, and because their power of clear thinking enables them to better serve God, their neighbors, and the common good.