From the President’s Desk
One year ago, COVID affected every aspect of our lives as well as disrupted daily activities. Gradually through the summer we were able to resume some of life’s normal activities.
I remain grateful to faculty and staff for opening Cardinal Mooney — and keeping it open. In doing so, we’ve kept our covenant to educate the sons and daughters of our community. In response, our students have achieved in the classroom, and excelled in athletic and academic competition.
This past week, Cardinal Mooney faculty and staff received their second vaccination. That speaks to the importance of education — of teaching and learning. Scientists and researchers from around the globe worked and collaborated to create vaccines, which now offer hope. Our manufacturers retooled their businesses to provide masks, ventilators, and more. Logistic companies delivered our daily needs. Technology kept us connected, allowed us to continue to work, meet, and produce.
We are planning for both the graduation of the Class of ’21 and welcoming members of the Class of ’25. The status of our schools, both private and public, will be subjects of debate for some time. While Cardinal Mooney has only been remote for a dozen days, many schools haven’t opened at all.
While there will be debates over curriculum — over how best to remediate lost learning from the past year — the important message for Cardinal Mooney to draw from is this: Teaching and learning are as important as ever, and our families are relying on us to provide answers.
Throughout this year I’ve illustrated distinctions of Catholic education for families to consider when choosing an educational program for their children. My overarching premise is that there is a distinct Catholic intellectual tradition, and that it necessarily extends beyond the religion department into the pursuit of knowledge itself.
Cardinal Mooney is a place where the Catholic approach to intellectual life is practiced. Let me call attention to five benefits students can receive from Mooney.
The core of all Catholic schools is the notion of “caring for the individual”. Although ‘personalism’ is not peculiarly Catholic, the dignity of the human person is central to our faith and how we approach teaching and learning.
One of our core values, sanctity, recognizes the primacy of persons over things, the superiority of being over having, and of spirit over matter. Our modern world tends to reduce the individual to the status of a mere instrument, a servant of the state. Sanctity at Cardinal Mooney is translated into cultivating the students’ active powers … walking alongside of them as they begin to discover the “best version of themselves.”
As a Catholic institution, Cardinal Mooney has a deep commitment to truth found in the experience of history and tradition. We pass on to new generations a fund of knowledge and skill, what Thomas Aquinas referred to as a “retentive memory” of the experiences of faith believers (our Catholic tradition). The content (curriculum) of what we have learned over centuries about life is not unimportant. Failure to learn this puts students at a tremendous disadvantage. With our humanistic formation, students ought to be able to adapt the heritage of the past to the needs of their own day.
Our core values of scholarship and discipline provide a sense of the unity of knowledge.
All high schools teach four disciplines: math, science, literature, and history. In faith based schools a fifth discipline is taught: theology. Theology, as a discipline, also contributes to training the mind … core purpose of schools.
Think of the importance of a fifth discipline from an athletic perspective. No athlete would enter a season only training in 4/5 of the areas they need to succeed in. Our most successful athlete’s cross-train. The same is true for learning. Students studying in four areas are at a disadvantage with those studying in five.
Because of its integrative nature, theology within its own courses of study, and its influence in other areas, trains the mind through the literary analysis of texts, philosophical and historical criticism, sociopolitical and cultural studies, and the disciplined integration of the critical reason used in the sciences.
We believe there can be no synthesis of knowledge without reference to God, the light of faith. At Cardinal Mooney, faith and reason coexist because the way we teach students to learn also influences what they can learn about God. Through example we teach Aquinas’ basic maxim:
- The pursuit of life is happiness.
- Happiness is found through the development of your capacities with excellence, expressed in the world through action.
- This path leads to God, the ultimate happiness.
At Mooney, learning is a virtue to be pursued.
Finally, our sense of mission: As students are intellectually formed in the light of faith, they become aware of the moral imperatives and the power of the Gospel for the transformation of human society — to take their skills, knowledge, and gifts in service of others. Conscious of the gap between what is and what ought to be, our graduates are motivated to bring ethical values and a sense of service into their lives as husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, employees and employers, as professionals, as citizens or statesmen.