My name is Carol Long and I am currently an instructor of Art History at the University of Scranton. Before any of my sons were in high school I had the occasion to give a slide show on Medieval Art to the faculty and students at St. Gregory’s Academy at the request of Alan Hicks, who was then its Headmaster. It was my plan at the time that my boys would attend St. Gregory’s. But little did I know as I was presenting my lecture how much St. Gregory’s would mean to my family in the years to follow.
St. Gregory’s Academy has been the backbone of our family life for the past six years. Next year upon graduation, my youngest son will follow his two brothers to complete four years of high school at St. Gregory’s. It will be a startling transition – the end of a great adventure.
I often find myself at a loss for words to “explain” St. Gregory’s to people, because as a mother, it involves so many very personal experiences and meditations to attempt to express all that St. Gregory’s is, or strives to be. At a certain point, some years ago, I realized that more than anything, St. Gregory’s is a true act of love. I say this with the conviction of one who has long known personally, everyone (faculty and staff) involved with St. Gregory’s Academy. Were it not for the fraternal love which they manifest to the students and each other, and zeal for the mission of this school, St. Gregory’s would not exist.
The school’s philosophy, the religious formation, the classical curriculum, the teachers, chaplains, and dorm staff, the athletic program, extracurricular activities and trips, the juggling, musical and theatrical performances, the emphasis on music in the context of daily life, the delight in poetry – have all been clearly described through St. Gregory’s newsletters, website, handbook, etc.
What is not described is the joyful oneness of hearts that I witness on seeing a group of boys and dorm-fathers spontaneously pick up their musical instruments and begin to play and sing! – or the oneness of hearts on the athletic field, which the entire student body shares no less than the players.
No pamphlet can convey the enthusiasm and spirit of a group of boys who will let nothing keep them from achieving a goal, such as a class trip to France to walk the seventy-mile Pentecost pilgrimage from Notre Dame in Paris to the Cathedral of Chartres – which this adult had deemed nearly impossible due to logistics and lack of funds. Through hard work, the boys and their dorm-father made it possible! Does such unity exist in any other school?
Unity is a fruit of love, and yes, it is brought out of the haven of St. Gregory’s into our home, as my sons speak of things, or entertain themselves, or behave in ways that reflect the Good, the True and the Beautiful, and together our lives and spirits are enhanced through the culture which is embraced at St. Gregory’s. I am so very happy with the friendships my sons have made through the school and the blessing of coming to know so many sincere Catholic families.
For certain, there are times when our sons are not yet able to comprehend all that St. Gregory’s is, and the sacrifices that their families make so that they may be there. As much as my boys love St. Gregory’s, on occasion I have said to them, “You may not fully understand it now, but one day you will understand what St. Gregory’s is…” Such was the source of one of my happiest moments in recent years, which came a few months after my oldest son, David, graduated. We had just left the school after visiting his brothers, and as we drove towards home, he turned to me and said, “Mom, did I ever say thank you for sending me to St. Greg’s?”
Addendum: My son David is currently (2012) a Second Lieutenant in the marines. He and his wife Naomi have one child and are stationed at 29 Palms.