Dear St. Louis U. High Community,
Happy Birthday, to all of us...200 years old!
I find myself thinking about different decades of history in our 200 years and what has taken place in our local, national and global history. St. Louis University High School has truly lived through many changes over the years. Always, I think of the people in those times. I think of school leaders, faculty members, parents, students and benefactors. We stand on their shoulders. I pray in gratitude for their vision, perseverance, commitment, faith, dedication and achievement that handed to all of us a school that aspires to such high ideals.
Beyond those 200 years, I think of the miracle of the Society of Jesus, of St. Ignatius of Loyola, S.J. and his earliest friends like St. Francis Xavier, S.J., and St. Peter Faber, S.J. In their earliest inspiration for the mission of the Jesuits, they truly envisioned serving the world! Given the limitations of transportation and communication, cultural unknowns and unforeseen challenges, that was a tremendous vision.
This past October, I was invited to provide a keynote address in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to a group of Provincials’ delegates responsible for secondary and pre-secondary education all around the world. It struck me quite clearly that we represented, almost 500 years later, a dream of a handful of men who trusted in God’s divine providence and did not limit the horizon of their work to their lifetimes. In many ways, this is the work of all educators. We plant seeds that grow to maturity long after our time on this earth has passed. But the planning and the execution of what we do today matters just as much as it did for those earliest companions many years ago.
My topic was Innovation as Tradition as a key aspect of what has made Jesuit education both worldwide and relevant for the past 500 years, both in context and in execution. The simple truth is that a core of human formation that has an eternal horizon has consistently been adapted to time and context. This was the purpose of our international meeting. While I was fascinated being with my colleagues there, my reflection kept coming back to Oakland Avenue and our care today.
Through centuries of development, there is a consistent core of formation at SLUH. We are a Gospel-based, humanities oriented, Jesuit Catholic school for young men. The total formation of the student has always been tantamount.
However, the program surrounding that core has adapted through the decades. Some who read this publication were required to take Latin and might never have imagined 50-plus-year traditions in Chinese or Russian language and culture. Before 1995, we required two years of Science and now require three, but 75 percent of our students take a fourth year. We’ve added a burgeoning Arabic studies program to make our language department reflect seven opportunities. We now have 19 interscholastic sports. Only for about 10 percent of our history have we possessed the first-class Joseph Schulte Theater for the performing arts. We now have both College and Personal Counseling.
I could continue to compare the past to the present to the future, but I hope as you read through this publication, you will see two things: our fierce love of the tradition of a total education for our young men, and our drive, like that of our predecessors, to continually challenge ourselves to place before our young men those opportunities that will allow
them to be tomorrow’s leaders. Our world needs that. Our history gives us that momentum. Our forbearers did so for us. We can do no less. Go Forth.
David J. Laughlin