From the Deacon's Desk: Why Do We Do What We Do?


Why do we do what we do? What makes Martin Saints Classical High School tick? Here's a snippet from Deacon Roberts' homily from the first day of school on Tuesday, September 3. Mass was said before students and faculty members left for our annual camp and canoe trip.

"Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus taught them on the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching. Faculty, you have a noble profession. What teachers do makes you an icon of Christ. Thank you – thank you – for your many sacrifices, all for the sake of teaching our students.

In today’s Gospel, teaching puts Jesus in conflict with a demon. Friends, our teaching in this school is also a confrontation with demons and with evil. The world in our lifetimes is a strange place. Many in our culture are lonely, afraid, weary, hopeless, resentful, and confused. In these circumstances, counterfeit consolations – selfishness, vulgar materialism, belief systems that twist the truth in order to vent our anger – these things can be temptations for any of us.

But: in teaching the classics – by committing ourselves to what is good, true, and beautiful – we confront and rebuke the modern day demons. Jesus taught with authority, and our curriculum has authority, and each one of us shares in that authority. When Christ is dwelling in us, when we are faithful in our prayers, when we’re open to the Word, when we’re faithful with the sacraments – we carry Christ’s authority. What we’re building here in this parish and in this school rebukes demons.

And it gets even better than that: by Christ’s authority, not only do we say “no” to what is evil, we say “yes” to what is good. Some of us are about to go on a canoe trip. We’re going to paddle and swim. We’re going to camp under the stars. We’re going to cook and sing around a campfire. And we’re going on this adventure, starting with this Mass, because God is good. His authority compels us to say “yes” to creation, “yes” to each other’s company, “yes” to good food and song, “yes” to gift of being fully alive in this time and in this land.

So today, as we continue with our celebration of the Eucharist, let’s give thanks for the presence of Jesus Christ among us. Let’s put ourselves under his authority. Let’s give thanks that he helps us rebuke what is evil, and, even better, that his grace is working through all that is good, true, and beautiful, taking us ever deeper into communion with Him and each other."


It's Nearly Time to Feast with Louis and Zélie Martin

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Dear friends of Martin Saints,

The annual feast of Louis and Zélie Martin will be on July 12, nine days from today. Which means that today is the perfect day to begin a novena to the Martin family.

(And if you're reading this email a day or two late...that's ok! It's never too late to pray, eh?)

What better way to celebrate our patronal feast? If we can't all be together in the middle of summer, let's be together in prayer!

Check out this website. It's not run by Martin Saints, but it offers a solid, short novena for the days between now and the feast. If you give them your email, for just the next nine days, they'll send you a daily reminder and a different, very brief prayer for the day.

Pray for our families, and all the challenges they face, and for joyful time together over the summer. Pray for our students, that they might grow into their faith and have a personal encounter with Jesus. Pray for our teachers, that they might glory in their vocation to spread the splendor of truth. Pray for our school, that we would find the financial support we need, and that we might in all things remain faithful.

Here is another good website with background about the Martin family. When explaining our school's name to new people, I typically say that so far as we know, the Martins are the only family where mom, dad, and one of the children are all canonized. But let's remember the other Martin children too. For example, one of the other daughters, Servant of God Léonie Martin, lived a very difficult life, but her path may well yield another canonized Martin saint before all is said and done. The entire Martin family gave their all for the faith as a family, which is what each Martin Saints school family is trying to do too.

From our school's founding document:

"Louis and Zélie earned a living, faced challenges, and raised their children to know and love Jesus. Louis and Zélie raised children who knew that God was alive and active in their lives, that the created world is a sacramental world, a world of goodness, beauty and truth. If Louis and Zélie can do that for their children - if they found a way to become saints in the middle of the mess of family life - then with the help of God's grace, with the help of the Church and each other, then we can do it too."

God bless you! I am praying for you all this summer. Please pray for me too.

Pax vobiscum,
Deacon Roberts

Proud of Our Students

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At Martin Saints, we aspire to be a family of families. When St. Paul says that in the Church we are members of one another (Romans 12:5), who bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2), we think "yes! That's the kind of Catholic community we want to build." You can see it in the art project pictured above: each student drew a section, and together it's beautiful and coherent.

As our school year draws to a close, it's time to shout a hearty "congratulations" to several students who have recently achieved a few milestones. St. Paul also says "rejoice with those who rejoice!" (Romans 12:15)

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Anna Grace Williams, Max Post, and Thomas Buentello all scored high honors on the National Latin Exam. Dr. Erika Harnett is the proud magistra.

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Grace Oberdorf, Julia Finegan, and Pia Buentello have all been admitted to the Summer Scholars Program at Eastern University's Templeton Honors College. Grace is also our newly-elected student council president. Julia has also been admitted to Princeton University's summer Witherspoon Institute for high schoolers. Pia's application essay to Templeton earned her a scholarship. Wow!

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There's Grace again, this time with her parents Maggie and Jay and her brother/their son Stephen Oberdorf. They're beaming because they're attending a Boy Scout Court of Honor where Stephen has just become an Eagle Scout.

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The Rawson twins - Sebastian on the left; Evelina on the far right - are members of the Whitemarsh Boat Club. That's putting it mildly. Pictured is Evelina last weekend, winning a silver medal at the national under-17 rowing championships. Her goal is the Olympics and she already has more medals than we can count. Sebastian just started rowing in September, but he's already winning medals in the novice leagues.

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On the left, that's Faith Dickerson, who just won a scholarship to the Summer Business Institute of the Catholic University of America. We're not surprised. She's always got an entrepreneurial plan for her knitting and other crafts at every flea market and fundraiser. And on the right, in the far right corner, there's Faith again. Just so you know: we have a volleyball team, and they rock.

In case it isn't clear yet, we love our students. They are beautiful, impressive people. Sometimes people ask: at a small school, how do students have extracurricular actvities? Answer: they have gumption. We help make introductions sometimes, and we can help new students find their place. Our kids run cross country, sail with the Sea Cadets, train with the National Canoe Safety Patrol, join 4-H, swim competitively, train with rugby clubs, dance ballet, play in symphonies, compete in gymnastics, have internships at radio stations, sing in choirs, travel with opera name it. We're ready to support it and facilitate it.

There are many more things going on at Martin Saints, many more stories we'd like to tell you - some of them about invisible things, things happening quietly in the heart. For now, count on one more end-of-year joy email - stay tuned for next week's installment!

Summer Enrichment at Martin Saints

Martin Saints Classical High School is pleased to offer the following enrichment opportunities this summer. All classes are open to rising freshman through rising seniors. Class sizes are limited. Sign up early.

Traditional Woodworking

Mr. Rob Post, the Martin Saints woodworking teacher, will offer a class on traditional woodworking July 15-19, from 9am to 3:30pm. Each student will build their own bench. Cost: $350, tools and materials included. Contact Mr. Post at or 267-326-2846.

Music Lessons

Mr. Sean Wood, the Martin Saints music teacher, will offer weekly music lessons over the summer at Martin Saints for students looking to learn an instrument or increase their musical skills. He is experienced in teaching piano, violin, voice, guitar, composition, and music theory. His rate is $50 per hour lesson, $40 for 45 minutes, and $30 for half an hour, plus a $20 one-time materials fee. A minimum commitment to six lessons is required. Scheduling is flexible and can be worked around vacations and other summer activities as needed. Contact Mr. Wood at for more information.


Mrs. Rosie Wood, the Martin Saints sewing teacher, will offer two classes, both on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from July 15 to August 9. Sewing Machine Basics is from 9am to noon. This class is perfect for beginners. You will learn sewing machine basics and create your own bucket bag. Cost: $350, materials included. The Create Custom Clothing class is from 1:30pm to 3:30pm and requires basic familiarity with a sewing machine. Cost: $425, materials included. Contact Mrs. Wood at or 773-573-2006.

English Grammar Workshop

Mrs. Shannon Bucko will offer a grammar class where students will improve writing skills, learn quick and easy tips for frequent errors and common standardized test questions, and gain a greater understanding of the English language. This one-day class will be held Wednesday, August 21 from 9:30am to 2:30pm. Cost: $100. For more information, contact

Transcendent Life is Real

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At a classical school like Martin Saints, we talk a lot about the good, the true, and the beautiful. Why? Because the three transcendentals are REAL.

The world sometimes tempts us to be dull, cynical, or sluggish. We hear "it's all a matter of opinion" or "art means whatever you think it means," as if truth were relative, as if beauty were entirely a matter of opinion.

But that's a lie, shortchanging us on the depth and glory of life. Here's the truth: there really is something greater and more beautiful out there, something bigger than us, something holy.

When we open our hearts and train our souls so that we're able to perceive the transcendent - which is the point of a classical education - something in us changes. The true, the good, and the beautiful unlock our hearts, and give us eyes for a reality which is GREATER.

Let's experience truth, beauty, and goodness together, as a community. Everyone is invited to a public evening at Martin Saints on Thursday, May 23rd, at 7pm.

Our student choir will sing.

Student art and craftmanship will be on display.

Renowned and award-winning professor of literature James Matthew Wilson will read some of his poetry and give a talk about the transcendent in Catholic education.

(Who is James Matthew Wilson? "A poet who works like a priest," showing us how everyday life can be sacramental. And if you click on this link, you can hear a Relevant Radio commercial for our event.)

Should you attend this event? Sometimes we have choices about our leisure. Getting out of the house on a week night can be tough. It's normal to be tired sometimes. Modern life tries its best to compete with eternal life. There are chores to do. Anesthetizing ourselves with the internet can be tempting.

But I think you want to rally for this one. Please come be part of the Martin Saints community, please come participate in what makes this school special.

"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)

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