Religion Department Changes

Students Are Focusing On What Matters Most—Both In and Out of the Classroom

Artwork by Brandon Braccia 23

Sean Keane 23

Throughout its history, Chaminade High School has built a reputation as a school that values academics. The school has always offered honors-level coursework and, more recently, Advanced Placement classes. Rigorous science classes and thought-provoking English classes are necessary to guide students into their career paths. Even more vital to a student’s education at Chaminade, however, is learning about his Catholic faith.

Students take religion all four years at Chaminade. They begin as freshmen with History of Salvation I and then move through History of Salvation II, Christian Humanism, and Christian Existence.

In History of Salvation I, freshmen are taught the roots of Catholicism by studying the Old Testament through the beginning of the New Testament. Sophomores take History of Salvation II, which picks up right where Salvation I leaves off. They learn about the early Church surviving in the Roman Empire, Catholicism becoming the major religion in Europe, the Protestant Reformation, and even the modern Church.They cover Church history up to the present day while also learning about the sacraments. 

After students have gained knowledge about the roots of our faith, juniors take Christian Humanism. This class covers the philosophy of Catholicism, with a focus on St. Thomas Aquinas’ teachings. Lastly, seniors finish their faith education with a class about Christian Existence. This class follows Peter Kreeft’s book, Because God is Real: Sixteen Questions, One Answer. The coursework focuses on answering any questions left unanswered from the previous years, especially those regarding the existence of God.

Recently, the religion department—led by Mr. Thomas Griffin, the first lay person to serve as department chair—has put an emphasis on forming a personal relationship with God. Griffin explained, “The religion department continues to shift towards meeting students where they are at in their faith journeys. With this in mind, we always want to focus on the most critical aspects of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. So, we consistently highlight the importance of a lived relationship with God and showcase how this is the entire point of anything they might learn in class.”

One way the religion department ensures a solid faith foundation is through Catholicism 101. “Catholicism 101 was a department-wide initiative for the first week or two of classes in September,” Griffin stated. “The goal was to start with the basic proclamation of the Christian faith, the message that the Apostles went out proclaiming, and the message that changed the world. This is known as the ‘Kerygma.’”

Students from all divisions learned about the Kerygma through its five points: that God created everyone with love and a unique purpose; that humans often choose sin, which hurts our relationship with God; that Jesus was sent to restore our relationship with God through suffering and dying on the cross; that we can have a real relationship with Jesus today through the Sacraments, prayer, and the Bible; and lastly, that everyone is called to spread Jesus’ message.

Looking toward the future of religious education at Chaminade, Griffin stated, “The religion department will continue to advance the mission of the school at large, which is to form men of faith who will be dynamic witnesses to the Gospel and future leaders of their families and communities. To accomplish this, we will always seek creative ways to proclaim the Truth that has been shared for 2,000 years: that God is real, that Jesus is God, and that having a meaningful relation- ship with Him is the meaning and purpose of life. Inside the vast and rigorous content that we have in our curriculum, we will continue to make this Truth shine.”