Adeodatus program connects students with Augustinian heritage
The patron saint of Austin Prep, St. Augustine, is one of the most consequential and well-known saints in the history of the Church, and his teachings help sustain our journey in pursuit of truth. Interiority is an essential part of the Augustinian tradition. It's the practice of reflecting inwardly -- an exercise in coming to know yourself and coming to know God. St. Augustine advised his followers, "Enter, then, into your heart (Isaiah 46:8) and if you have faith, you will find Christ there. There Christ speaks to you. I must use my voice, but he instructs you more effectively in silence."
As Austin Prep continues to examine and live in the Augustinian tradition, this year the school launched the Adeodatus program, named after St. Augustine's son. Adeodatus is a student-led program of interiority and reflection. Student leaders were selected at the end of the last academic year and this year are enrolled in a class taught by Theology Department Chair Dustin Batista. Modeling the program after Adeodatus programs in other Augustinian secondary schools in the United States, the student-facilitators in the Adeodatus class offer a brief daily reflection in the school's Chapel of St. Augustine for one cohort of students (seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen, and middle school) each day of the week. The goal of the program is to dedicate a few minutes of quiet time for every Austin Prep student each week so they can find some personal inward space -- a growing challenge in a cell phone-connected and overscheduled world.
"The Adeodatus program has been a great way for students to get a break in the day, but not a break in a traditional sense," Batista said. "Students get to have a mini-retreat where their focus is on who they are, and where God is in their lives. As I hear students leave the chapel, and thank the student who gave the reflection, I know the program is making an impact."
In Austin Prep's effort to help students connect with their inner voice, the Adeodatus program also provides students with another means to continue to celebrate the school's Augustinian heritage. Austin Prep is a proud member of the Augustinian Secondary Educational Association (ASEA), sharing an Augustinian heritage with more than 100 secondary schools and colleges across the globe, including Villanova University and Merrimack College.
The Augustinian Secondary Education Association (ASEA) was established by the North American Conference of Augustinian Provincials to foster unity, efficiency, and continued development within the Augustinian ministry of secondary education. The Association is a forum and vehicle for the sharing of resources, for the advancement of the Augustinian charism and values, for the promotion of secondary education as a vital and proper ministry of the Order, and for assuring authentic Augustinian identity in the schools. Austin Prep participates in the annual institutes that bring together faculty and students to learn more about the rich heritage and values present in all of the ASEA schools. The Adeodatus program grew from these partnerships with our fellow Augustinian schools.
Junior Ava Intoppa participated in a recent Student Augustinian Values Institute, and provides reflections in the Adeodatus program.
"We learned so many things to bring back to school from the Institute," Intoppa said. "Giving the reflections in the Adeodatus program has helped me connect with my classmates, and helped me grow personally through writing and sharing my thoughts with others."
Austin Prep's head of school, James Hickey, Ph.D., shared, "The Adeodatus reflection grounds our students in our Augustinian heritage because it applies the concept of the Inner Teacher in a concrete manner. Our student leaders carefully craft their reflective insight to mark the seasons, highlight the importance of relationships, and the presence of God in our lives. The influence of students leading this kind of prayer for their peers cannot be overstated. It illuminates our Augustinian values."
TYLER FLEMING IS DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AT AUSTIN PREPARATORY SCHOOL (TYLER.FLEMING@AUSTINPREP.ORG OR 781-944-4900 X780) IN READING, MASS., AN INDEPENDENT, AUGUSTINIAN CATHOLIC SCHOOL SERVING YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN IN GRADES SIX-12.