In the Acts of the Apostles, we read about the nascent Church – our forefathers in Christian living. The opening scene is not very promising, as we see the Apostles huddled together in the upper room, fearful and waiting. The Risen Lord has left them, and though He promised that He would send them the power of the Holy Spirit to "teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you," (John 14:26) they are uncertain about what this means. Then the day of Pentecost arrives and, with the rush of a mighty wind and the outpouring of tongues of fire, the Apostles are propelled forth to spread the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. All of these men would ultimately lay down their lives for this message, so deeply had it affected their being.
Now, you are probably asking yourself, “What do the Apostles have to do with a Catholic elementary school?” The answer is everything. Here at St. Isaac Jogues, we work daily to re-live this Pentecost experience. Born from an authentic relationship with Christ, the members of the St. Isaac Jogues Community strive for excellence in faith, academics, and virtuous living. Just as the early Church “devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42), so do our faculty, students and families strive to live each day.
The Teachings (academics)
Since that day of Pentecost, the Church has been filled with the conviction that the God of truth has revealed Himself to mankind both through His word and through His world. For over 2,000 years this conviction has fueled countless Christians and led to a veritable explosion of learning as man seeks to better understand the God who has given us life and rebirth in Christ Jesus. Through thousands of poets, authors, scientists, mathematicians, philosophers and historians, right down to our own students at St. Isaac Jogues, we bear a passion for learning born from an encounter with the God of truth. Our school is staffed with highly qualified teachers in every classroom who approach learning with passion and conviction. Students are challenged daily to question and explore the world around them through a variety of rigorous, engaging and hands on curricula. Each classroom is outfitted with interactive technology, and we recently added a state of the art science lab to further enhance student learning. Equipped with problem solving and critical thinking skills, we confidently send our students forth to bring the light of truth into all areas of today’s world.
Communal Life (virtuous living)
In St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he reminds us, “If I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing” (13:2). From the beginning, the Church has recognized that learning is of no value if it does not transform us from within. Our lives are not merely for book knowledge; in order for there to be full human flourishing, there must be growth in the heart as well. Therefore, at St. Isaac Jogues we strive daily to build up our community through daily growth in virtuous living. All our students are formed in the traditional habits of excellence laid out by Plato and Aristotle which are then discussed and applied through the lens of grace. In the person of Christ, we are not only given the model par excellence for virtuous living, but we also receive the grace and strength to live heroically virtuous lives. Along with learning about virtue, students are engaged in designing personalized virtue plans. In addition, our days begin and end with reflecting on virtue, and daily opportunities for deliberate acts of virtue are afforded to every student. As our students are formed in discipleship and excellent living, they are given the courage to transform the world through their leadership and example.
Breaking of the Bread (faith)
In John’s Gospel, he gives us the memorable quote from Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6). As Catholics we all know that Jesus is the answer to the longing of every human heart. It is He who reveals to us the identity of our Heavenly Father, and it is He who fully reveals man to himself (John 14:9, Gaudium et Spes 22). For this reason, Jesus is truly at the heart of all that we do at St. Isaac Jogues. Drawing from the deep well of our Catholic heritage, children and adults alike are given daily opportunities to encounter Christ and to grow in relationship with Him. Students are formed in the teachings of our Faith through a rigorous religion curriculum and come together to worship and be nourished at the Mass twice weekly. There are also regular opportunities for Eucharistic Adoration, Confession, other forms of liturgical prayer and personal prayer. It is through these frequent encounters with Christ that we are filled with the energy and drive to go forth and be lights to a world shrouded in darkness.
One of the greatest gifts that Jesus left to His apostles, aside from His own abiding Spirit, was the gift of community. The fact that He formed His first followers into a brotherhood teaches us that God Himself finds community to be good. At St. Isaac Jogues, we are seriously committed to building up our family within the school and in the wider parish community. Students frequently work with one another across grade levels, parents are encouraged to volunteer in the building throughout the day, and we are always looking for new ways to build fellowship and unity. Here at St. Isaac’s, you can find a family that cares for and supports one another through prayer, outreach, and encounter. Though it is challenging to manage a family of several hundred people, we find it worth every moment to see the witness of authentic Christian brotherhood as we work together to transform our local community and the world.