Oscar Tran

This series features the people who’ve been passionate for Classical Education, working towards its proliferation and implementation in the Wichita, Kansas area. These are among the parents and teachers faithfully stewarding this educational patrimony. These are the accounts of their motivation for Catholic Classical Education.

Where formal education was lacking, grace, monasticism, and friendships did much to impress upon Oscar a great admiration for classical education, great books, Latin, poetry, and the fine arts. He had been brought up with what is the predominate, contemporary approach to education; what little may have been reminiscent of classical education he received through Catholic schooling of the 80s and 90s. Yet later in his 20s as he discerned a possible vocation with the now renown Benedictines of Clear Creek Monastery (Abbey), he met a world of monks, discerners, former students of the legendary John Senior and the KU Integrated Humanities Program, and alumni from schools such as the University of Dallas and Thomas Aquinas College. These people showed Oscar what true, beautiful, and good lives looked like. And buoyed by such inspiration and by Providence, he and his wife Alanna have sought out classical education for their own 7 children, 5 of whom already attend Christ the Savior Academy.

The Catholic Classical Vision pt. 4

This series outlines the purpose, structure, curricular content, and communal origins of a Catholic classical education, for the sake of establishing a School dedicated to such an education in the Diocese of Wichita (Kansas). It discusses both the general principles of Catholic classical education as well as some particular points regarding that School. We begin by explaining the purpose and educational vision of the School, then consider the reasons for the order and structure of its curriculum, before discussing each class in the curriculum. Lastly, we describe the community required to achieve the goals of Catholic classical education.

Due to the disorder of his nature and the wounds caused by the Fall, man is born unable to fulfill his purpose.[1] Therefore, just like any other living thing, man must grow and develop so as to acquire certain excellences that allow him to achieve his end.

      The human person stands in need of excellences both infused by grace and acquired by training and moral formation. These excellences are called virtues, whether natural or supernatural, physical, moral or intellectual. Generally speaking, virtues perfect a thing with regards to its purpose, enabling it to carry out that purpose well.[2] For example, a knife is made for the sake of cutting, and so it is given a sharp edge. Sharpness is the excellence or virtue of a knife.[3] Man is made to know, love, and serve God. Therefore, the virtues are simply those excellences in his intellect, will, desires, and body that allow him to know, love, and serve God.

      To cultivate these virtues, the Church has not only the liturgy and the sacraments, but a time-tested tradition of education—Catholic classical education. Catholic classical education seeks to cultivate virtue in the entire person so that one is better able to know, love, and serve God through Christ and His Church. This form of education was discovered and developed by the Greeks, adopted and expanded by the Romans, purified by the Church Fathers, and brought to a certain perfection by the medieval scholastics. It continues in use to this day. It is how many of the saints were educated—saints as varied as St. Patrick, St. Boniface, St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Vincent de Paul, St. John Henry Newman, and Pope St. John Paul II. Simply put, it is the education of the Church.

      The adjective “Catholic,” then, is not merely an accidental or descriptive feature of classical education, but signifies what is essential to such an education. Since the end in this case is the formation of a young Catholic adult, the means instituted in the curriculum and School community carry forward at each stage a distinctive form and order, even if these are in some respects similar to non-Catholic classical educational programs or other schools’ curricula. As discussed below, the freedom found in such a Catholic education encompasses the tradition of liberal education. For simplicity, and not to the exclusion this liberal aim, this document will use the term “Catholic classical education.”


[1] See St. Thomas, ST, Ia-IIae, q. 109.

[2] St. Thomas, ST, Ia-IIae, q. 55; see also Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, II.5–6 and Plato, Republic, Book I, 352d–353e.

[3] This is an older usage of the English word “virtue,” which nowadays typically has a more limited, moralistic sense. Compare “the virtue of an herb,” which more clearly uses the older meaning. The Greeks simply used the word aretê, or “excellence.”


The Catholic Classical Vision pt. 3

This series outlines the purpose, structure, curricular content, and communal origins of a Catholic classical education, for the sake of establishing a School dedicated to such an education in the Diocese of Wichita (Kansas). It discusses both the general principles of Catholic classical education as well as some particular points regarding that School. We begin by explaining the purpose and educational vision of the School, then consider the reasons for the order and structure of its curriculum, before discussing each class in the curriculum. Lastly, we describe the community required to achieve the goals of Catholic classical education.

In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear. . . . Christ the new Adam . . . fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling.[1]

      Who am I? Where have I come from? Where am I going? What does it mean to be human? These questions are asked by every human being. Each of us longs to know their answers, for our happiness is bound up with them. The ancient Greeks understood “Know thyself” to be a command of divine origin, but the questions such an imperative inspires can only be answered fully by the One who made us. And so we turn to our Creator and to the Church, who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, dispenses the wisdom and grace revealed to her by her Bridegroom.

      To understand ourselves, or any created thing, we must study human nature and know its purpose or end-goal (telos). Man is “a creature composed of body and soul,”[2] and the distinctive human capacities of this soul-body union are the intellect (or mind), the will (or heart), and human desires and emotions [1] . God created man “to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.”[3] Human nature is formed to fulfill perfectly that purpose—to know God with the intellect, to love Him with the will [2] , and to serve Him with the actions of the body. This is true human happiness. Furthermore, such an end-goal is not limited to a temporal or natural happiness, but is found most of all in beatitude, the supernatural happiness of union with God forever.[4]


[1] Gaudium et Spes, n. 22.

[2] Answer to q. 3, Baltimore Catechism I, Baronius Press Classics, 2013.

[3] Ibid., answer to q. 6.

[4] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae (ST), Ia-IIae, q. 3, a. 8.


John Brungardt

This series features the people who’ve been passionate for Classical Education, working towards its proliferation and implementation in the Wichita, Kansas area. These are among the parents and teachers faithfully stewarding this educational patrimony. These are the accounts of their motivation for Catholic Classical Education.

Establishing a Catholic classical school requires a solid philosophical foundation articulated in well defined terms. When Dr. John Brungardt came on board with this grassroot project, he brought with him an intellectual sophistication perfectly fitted to the task of questioning and refining the project’s ideas, proposals, and work. His expertise as a philosopher and a professor of Medieval Philosophy have made him indespensible.

John Brungardt’s experience with the classical education movement started at a young age, growing up in the dioceses of Wichita. The oldest of a family of ten children, he was homeschooled since the second grade in various curricula either inspired by or defined by the classical education model. This formation, seeking the truth for its own sake, especially about God, led him to further his education through the Catholic liberal arts curriculum of Thomas Aquinas College (B.A., 2008), subsequently earning degrees in philosophy at the Catholic University of America (Ph.L, 2011; Ph.D, 2016). His wife, Marina, also earned her degree at Thomas Aquinas College, along with a masters in theology from Ave Maria University. The great good of Catholic education continues to shape their lives. John currently teaches at the School of Catholic Studies at Newman University in Wichita, where his wife also teaches philosophy. They both hope to educate their young children in the tradition of learning which they themselves have so gratefully received.

What an Eastern Orthodox Christian Classical School Looks like

Posted by Oscar and Alanna Tran

Although firmly home in the Roman Catholic faith, my wife and I have been sending our (now 5 of 8) children to Christ the Savior Academy, a small (junior-K through 6th grade) classical school founded by the local Antiochian Orthodox Church, St. George Cathedral. Yet why did we choose there and not the well-recognized Catholic schools in Wichita?

We chose to send our currently five school-age children to Christ the Savior Academy because we truly felt that the methodology of classical education would fully form their intellect to face the world with faith and confidence.

We chose Christ the Savior over The Classical School of Wichita (another local classical school founded in the Protestant tradition) because the Orthodox Church has a rich liturgical and sacramental life that fits well with Catholicism. That sense of piety and prayer plays no small role in the life of the school. From a historical and Catholic perspective, that Patristic tradition really belongs to them as well.

In addition, our children study literature, history, math, science, astronomy, religion, Greek, Latin, art and music; none are soley studied in isolation.

They learn to chart their place among the planets while they learn the history and mythology of the people who named the stars and developed theories in mathematics and philosophy that are still studied today. They learn color, dimension and perspective in art alongside the practices of reading the symbols in ancient Christian iconography and recognizing the great Western masterpieces.

Our children learn the Paschal troparion: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” in English, Greek, and Arabic. They sing Christmas carols in German and folk songs in Russian. They learn the Our Father in Latin and the Nicene Creed in Greek, the language in which it was written by the Church Fathers. These are the connections to the roots of the faith, the generations that went before us, the knowledge and confidence of who they are that will carry them forward into their place in the modern world with steadfast hearts and the cumulative knowledge of the ages at their backs to guide them toward truth, beauty, and goodness on the long and narrow road home.

What we want, what we are asking for, is a Catholic school that will cultivate this. Classical education is available in Wichita seated in Orthodox and Protestant churches, and in individual families, and we are grateful. Yet, nonetheless, we long to see the classical tradition brought home, in its fullness, to the Catholic community in a Catholic school filled with our children.

The Catholic Classical Vision pt. 2

This series outlines the purpose, structure, curricular content, and communal origins of a Catholic classical education, for the sake of establishing a School dedicated to such an education in the Diocese of Wichita (Kansas). It discusses both the general principles of Catholic classical education as well as some particular points regarding that School. We begin by explaining the purpose and educational vision of the School, then consider the reasons for the order and structure of its curriculum, before discussing each class in the curriculum. Lastly, we describe the community required to achieve the goals of Catholic classical education.

The curriculum requires foundational preparations in piety and a musical education in a broad sense. Piety is the virtue by which one renders what is owed to one’s causes or origins, those responsible for one’s existence, birth, and education. Musical education is not exclusively learning to sing or play instruments, but the cultivation of the capacity to love the good and be moved by the beautiful in reality. Gymnastic, or various forms of physical exercise and training, are part of a musical education in this general sense.

Students are in this way prepared by acquiring a love of learning. They are ready for the liberal arts. These seven arts contain the skills of thinking well and discerning the truth, which are the necessary precursors to the intellectual virtues. They are split into two groups: the Trivium—grammar, logic, and rhetoric—and the Quadrivium—arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. In turn, the liberal arts are meant to lead to the cultivation of the other intellectual virtues corresponding to the disciplines of human and divine knowledge—philosophy and theology.

Philosophy is the intellectual virtue that most perfects the human mind, naturally speaking. The curriculum does not propose philosophy in an academic sense, an abstract consideration of hypothetical concept-games, but philosophy as it was for Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Boethius, or St. Thomas Aquinas, namely, the unified knowledge of creation in light of its Creator. The work of Catholic classical education is completed by theology, which seeks knowledge of God insofar as He has revealed Himself to man. Theology, sacred wisdom, is both the highest intellectual virtue as well as the highest practical virtue.

In what follows, we discuss the order of Catholic classical education as well as the various classes envisioned for its curriculum. This curriculum includes classes in religion, physical education, Latin, grammar, literature, history, music, mathematics, and the sciences. It aims to give students a complete formation in virtue so that they are better able know, love, and serve God in this life and to dwell in the supernatural happiness of union with God forever.

Isaac Traffas

This series features the people who’ve been passionate for Classical Education, working towards its proliferation and implementation in the Wichita, Kansas area. These are among the parents and teachers faithfully stewarding this educational patrimony. These are the accounts of their motivation for Catholic Classical Education.

Among our original group of dads who envisioned a Catholic classical school in the Wichita diocese, Isaac Traffas has emerged as the locomotive force executing the unseen, yet vital work of the project. He’s ensured that the 27 page white paper finished in 1.5 years. He’s led a disciplined schedule of meetings (twice a month) since the project’s inception. Both he and his wife, Margaret Mary have worked tirelessly on countless tasks while opening their hearts and home to neighbors, friends, and collaborators.

The story of Isaac Traffas could be told by the books he reads.  He was born in Wichita and grew up with his head whirling with stories of adventure and heroism – under the trees, on the seas, and among the stars.  After graduating from Northfield School of the Liberal Arts, he attended Benedictine College.  There he encountered the wisdom of the Church in Her philosophy and theology while studying biochemistry and mathematics.  And he met his wife, Margaret Mary!  As they considered how to educate their fledgling children, they rediscovered Catholic classical education.  In this grand tradition, the Church’s understanding of man’s purpose is woven together with knowledge of creation and its Creator to form a trellis upon which their children could grow towards and flourish in the radiance of the eternal God.  Forming a small band with like-minded friends, together they set off on the adventure of bringing a Catholic classical school to Wichita.  In his spare time, he can be found reading to his five children, cultivating his home, playing board games, and enjoying the culinary delights of his wife.

The Catholic Classical Vision pt. 1

The human person can only flourish if given a fitting formation. Such a formation instills various physical, moral, and intellectual virtues.  To cultivate these virtues, the Church has not only the liturgy and the sacraments, but a time-tested tradition of education—Catholic classical education. This blog series will outline the essentials of this education for the purpose of a Catholic classical K–12 school.

      Catholic classical education seeks to cultivate virtue in the entire person so that one is better able to know, love, and serve God through Christ and His Church. This form of education was discovered and developed by the Greeks, adopted and expanded by the Romans, purified by the Church Fathers, and brought to a certain perfection by the medieval scholastics. It continues in use to this day.

      The curriculum of the School that we will be describing aims to progressively cultivate virtue in the entire person. Each stage, each class, each step is directed in appropriately diverse ways, as required by human nature, towards knowing, loving, and serving God. It begins with a pious and musical foundation, proceeds through the traditional liberal arts, and ends with an introduction to philosophy and theology.


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