Chesterton Academy of Detroit Dedication Mass
On Saturday, September 7, 2019—a First Saturday in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary—members of the Board of Directors and the Headmaster for Chesterton Academy of Detroit took a public Oath of Fidelity and Profession of Faith to the Catholic Church. The event took place during a Holy Mass offered at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Warren, MI. Taking the oath were board members David Miller, Alejandra Correa, Kevin Erskine, Tom D’Alio, Tina Tocco, Cynthia Zitny, and Headmaster Peter Ohotnicky.
The oath is sworn by all faculty members and staff at every Chesterton Academy at the beginning of each school year; it is a key aspect of how Chesterton Academy seeks to maintain a strong Catholic culture and identity. The event is consistent with the Magisterial teaching of the Church, as articulated in documents such as Pope Pius’s XI’s Encyclical Divini Illius Magistri: “For the mere fact that a school gives some religious instruction (often extremely stinted), does not bring it into accord with the rights of the Church and of the Christian family, or make it a fit place for Catholic students. To be this, it is necessary that all the teaching and the whole organization of the school, and its teachers, syllabus and text-books in every branch, be regulated by the Christian spirit, under the direction and maternal supervision of the Church.” (80)
“This event was very important for us,” said Headmaster Peter Ohotnicky. “I told the board when I was hired that I was eager to make the Oath of Fidelity to Christ and His Church. I wanted to stand before them and solemnly affirm that I was focused on making this a Catholic school, through and through. They responded that they wanted to take the oath as well. Together, we hope to send a strong and bold message to the families who are considering Chesterton Academy for their children and the faculty members who would like to serve here.”
Several families who have expressed interest in enrolling their children came to the mass, along with a significant number of prospective faculty members who have already submitted materials. “I’ve been impressed with the faculty candidates we have so far.” said Ohotnicky. Also in attendance were a number of young adults who are simply avid connoisseurs of the wit and wisdom of great English writer Gilbert Keith Chesterton, the school’s patron.
The celebrant for the mass was Father Peter Clark, an avid supporter of Chesterton Academy and also a Chesterton enthusiast. During the homily, Fr. Clark emphasized a passage from the first reading, “God has now reconciled you in the fleshly Body of Christ through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him, provided that you persevere in the faith…” (Col 1:22-3) Father Clark explained how Catholic education plays a role in this perseverance in faith leading to holiness. He cited several quotes from Chesterton, including one of his more famous thoughts on education: “The one thing that is never taught by any chance in the atmosphere of public schools is this: that there is a whole truth of things, and that in knowing it and speaking it we are happy.” A happy and lively reception followed the mass which allowed those present to get to know each other personally.
The board and headmaster are keenly focused at this point at identifying a location for the school. They completed a novena to Our Lady in the days leading up to the Dedication Mass, and there were remarkable developments which will contribute to both the short- and long-term welfare of the school. “Our Lady always pulls through. This is hers.” said board member Alejandra Correa.