Transformation of Oldest Catholic School Off to a Solid Start

Nestled in the historic town of Bally (Berks County), St. Francis Classical Catholic Academy is the oldest operating co-education Catholic school in the original 13 colonies. If its 280-year history is not enough of a distinction, the school recently revamped its curriculum to a rigorous Catholic liberal arts education model. It appears, “old school” has become “new school.” And with only four months into the academic year, the model is working.

“We are at a time in our country and state where people are looking for an alternative,” said Miriam Diodati, a third and fourth grade teacher at the school. “Parents want their children to be taught how they were taught. Everyone is willing the best for the next generation in the hope they will be closer to God.”

Embracing the Classical and Spiritual Teachings

Fifty-four students enrolled in Pre-K to eighth grade are immersed in a carefully crafted curriculum the blends the richness of classical teachings, the precision of Latin, the curiosity of science, the beauty of art, and the depth of religious wisdom.

“The aim is not just to impart knowledge, but to cultivate critical thinking, creativity, and an appreciation for enduring principles that have shaped civilizations,” Dr. Richard Brake, Headmaster at the school, said.

Integral to the academy’s academic identity is its commitment to a strong Catholic religious education. Hymns and prayers resound through the corridors, creating an environment where faith is seamlessly integrated into daily learning. Daily Mass and religious ceremonies reinforce the spiritual foundation of the Academy.

The fusion of classical teachings and religious education is designed to nurture well-rounded individuals. Brake said St. Francis Classical Catholic Academy aims not only to impart knowledge but to instill virtues that transcend the classroom.

“Strong virtues shape character and contribute to the formation of responsible, compassionate, and intellectually curious faith-filled citizens,” Brake said.

Diodati agrees.

“We are not only producing future functioning adults, but also loving people who reach for God,” she said.

People interested in learning more about St. Francis Classical Catholic Academy, its enriching curriculum, and enrollment process, may visit the school’s website or email Dr. Brake at [email protected].

In an effort to think long-term and support the classical Catholic liberal arts approach, the school’s board of directors created the St. Francis Classical Catholic Academy Fund with the Catholic Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania.

“St. Francis Classical doesn’t just educate about faith. It cultivates an environment where students live their faith.”

— Dr. Richard Brake, Headmaster at St. Francis Classical Catholic Academy