A Contemplation on a Decade of Aquinas Learning
In contemplating, the first two concepts that came to mind were: the fact that time is so fleeting, and that we only have one life to live, so we must make it count. We make it count by acting according to our nature and purpose. If our purpose is to know, love, and serve God, then the path to a happy and productive life is to do just that. In learning more about Him, it leads us to love Him more, which drives us to want to serve Him always. Aquinas Learning is just a product of acting according to our nature, and sharing that yearning to know more about Him with our children. God is Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. So we learn more about Him, remembering all “subjects” all point to the Truth Himself. Our enthusiasm for this type of education overflows and waters the seedlings below.
The love of teaching has been in me from the beginning, but I think it’s always been driven by the quest to learn. Although developing Aquinas Learning has been intense at times, it has never felt like a drudgery because it’s all been part of this quest.
Ironically, early in my career as teacher, God’s providence allowed for many occurrences that led my husband and me to choose homeschooling as the best educational option for our children (yet to be conceived). After some trial and error with various curricula, I got together with some homeschooling friends to make a wish-list for the ideal homeschool program for our children. We wanted it to be: Catholic, family-friendly (unit-like studies), integrates across the subjects, relaxed, flexible, and age-appropriate. The foundation was Truth, Goodness, and Beauty Himself. The approach had to be classical. Thanks to the mentorship of the CiRCE institute and various other mentors, whom we’ve only met on the pages of books they’ve written about their philosophies on learning, the development of the Aquinas Learning Program began.
In Aquinas Learning’s second year of development, a parent remarked that we should not close the door to sharing the program, even if was still in the development phase, because “when you close the door to the Holy Spirit, He will find an open window.” I think God knew that if we had waited for the program to reach “perfection,” it would still be on the drawing board today.
In our 3-cycle curriculum, where each year focuses on particular topics that are learned by all students (at their appropriate level), we are currently studying Cycle 1 material once again. I still remember the first round of Cycle 1, when there was no curriculum except what we had written for “the next couple of weeks.” This time around, the full year is already written, we have semester-long workbooks, materials, an online course site which houses the information, a wonderful newsletter, and a vibrant online community where parents can support and encourage each other as they journey through the curriculum.
Though it has spread mostly by word of mouth, God has also allowed me the opportunity to travel and bring this curriculum outside of our lovely home in Manassas, VA. It’s currently being used in 12 states, Brazil, and the Philippines.
It is quite delightful to see our Aquinas Learning Families Facebook page explode with several shared photos, ideas, and experiences from all those who use the program. Most poignant for me is seeing children in the Philippines, my homeland, engaged in our curriculum.
For those just starting their journey now, I would like to encourage you to keep allowing God to light your path forward and persevere. This past spring, my eldest son, Ian, who was in 4th grade when we started, was part of the Aquinas Learning Manassas Center’s first graduating class. He chose to go to Benedictine College, where he is studying Architecture on a full tuition scholarship. When asked why he applied to Benedictine College, he said, “it was one of the colleges where I felt the professors would form me in the right way.” His answer was affirmation enough for us that he was ready to fly. The other graduates went to Villanova, Universidad de Navarra, and NOVA. My other four children are all—unbelievably—in Schola Alta this year: Joseph (11th), Nicholas (10th), Daniel (8th), and Ana (7th) grade. Yes, time flies!
God willing, the Aquinas Learning Program will continue to turn students’ affections to what is true, good, and beautiful; and to spread to many places to help other homeschooling families worldwide teach at rest and embody Philippians 4:6-9. As our community grows, we can increase our joy because, as Aristotle said, joy is seeking truth with a friend.
May God bless your families and your homeschooling journey!
Rosario Reilly, Co-founder, Aquinas Learning Director, Aquinas Learning Manassas Center
For more information behind the founding of Aquinas Learning, see Aquinas Learning—Our History.