In September 2008 I made a proposal on this blog about a Catholic Trade School for men. Nothing ever happened after that initial proposal except a few positive comments here and there. But the idea has never completely left my head. Every time I pass the abandoned motel on the outskirts of town I think, “That would make a good residence hall for the school”. And every time I pass the old high school down the street sitting on 20+ acres, I think, “That would make an ideal campus.”
So here is a re-cap of the problem and a possible solution for some.
Many Catholic young men either have no means and/or no desire to attend a 4 year degree program, yet these men still need more than a high school education in liberal arts and the Faith and need a skill or trade so they can provide for themselves, their family, and to live a life giving proper glory to God. It would also be beneficial for these young men to experience a Catholic cultural environment.
The solution could be a 2-year trade school for high school graduates which both teaches a trade and prepares young men with the knowledge and spiritual tools to be a Catholic man (and father) in today’s world.
The proposal: A 2-year school (post high school) for men which had a core-curriculum of theology, philosophy, history of western civ and classic literature, social teaching of the Catholic Church (i.e. Rerum Noverum) and a course in practical arts (cross-training the basics of the trades to follow). Majors would be in a trade: Electrician, Plumbing, Carpentry/Cabinet making (both with hand and power tools), Agriculture/animal husbandry, Butchering, Engine Repair (car and small engine), as well as a course in running a small trade/farm as a business.
I would envision the campus to have student housing and a permanent chaplain and chapel. The spiritual life of the school would include daily Mass, some of the hours prayed in chapel, community meals, and at least weekly adoration and rosary.
The school could have some income by selling services (student mechanics, electricians etc.) and produce/meat to the local area. A somewhat rural location with low property costs, but with some access to great population centers (possibly apprenticeships?) would be ideal.
Finally, while the students would board at the school, at the end of the course, men would be urged to return to their family and community of origin.
Besides start-up expenses for the physical campus, the equipment and tools needed for teaching each trade would be a barrier.
A number of men who also believe in this model need to be sought out to form a board of founders so work can be begin on establishing such a school.
Oremus pro invicem!