Lumen Christi High School is providing additional opportunities for students and staff to benefit from the spiritual life and beauty of the church.
Located in south Anchorage, the 7-12th grade school launched the current academic year with a new option for students, teachers and staff.
Before classes begin, a priest now celebrates an early morning daily Mass in the school’s new “Chapel of the Archangels.”
The chapel is located in a renovated storage space that features an altar and religious artworks.
In addition to the morning Masses, the school is enhancing its Catholic identity with new visual elements.
“We have commissioned reproductions of the “Virtue Series” by Giotto di Bondone as visuals in our hallway surrounding our students as they go to and from class,” said Father Tom Lilly, the pastor of St. Benedict Church, which sponsors the school.
“For almost seven centuries, Giotto has been revered as the father of European painting and the first of the great Italian masters, Father Lilly added. “We want beautiful Catholic art to inspire our students to live a virtuous day.”
The morning liturgies and commissioned artworks complement practices the school long embraced, such as opening and closing prayers for each day, weekly opportunities for students and staff to go to confession and weekly all-school Masses. As in past years, Lumen Christi also continues to offer spiritual retreats and direction throughout the year.
The end goal is to immerse students in the sacramental life of the church with the hope that graduates will leave with a Christ-centered worldview and a respect for the dignity of others as made in God’s image.
On the academic side, the school offers theology courses for each grade level along with curriculum that focuses on the dignity of human life.
“Our goal at Lumen Christi is to provide a course of instruction that inspires our students to strive for holiness of life, to strive to be the saints that God has called them to be,” said Father Lilly.
“The purpose of Catholic education is to continue the process of our transformation in Christ that began in our baptism,” Father Lilly added. “We experience this continuing transformation through the sacraments, through prayer, through the many ways we receive God’s grace, and through our own efforts to cooperate with that grace.”
For ninth through 11th grades, Lumen Christi has recently incorporated “Principles and Choices,” a program based on Father Robert Spitzer’s book, “Ten Universal Principles: A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues.” The program helps students master the principles of logic, ethics and justice with the aim of inspiring them to live with purpose, moral integrity, and care for all human life.
Broadly stated, the challenges of forming students’ with strong Catholic character are twofold, Father Lilly noted.
“How can we encourage Lumen students to develop a personal, prayerful, sacramental relationship with Jesus?” he said. “And how can (they) become a living incarnation of Christ — a community that enables everyone to experience the transforming power of God’s love.”
Ultimately, students are expected to put their faith into action.
“Every student completes 20 to 40 hours of Christian service in the local community,” Ross observed. “I am continually amazed by the hard work, dedication, and commitment shown by our students. Our students work in their home parishes, tutor elementary students at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and public schools, help out at summer camp and vacation bible school, and serve others in many other areas around the Anchorage community.”
For families thinking about Lumen Christi, Ross said the school is committed to making education affordable and the school offers scholarships to families that need them.
Ultimately the school exists to form well-educated students who are ready to meet the needs of the church and the wider society, he explained.
“More importantly, we help them prepare for eternal life,” Ross added. “The most important gift you can give to your children is to help them to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through a solid understanding of the beauty of their Catholic faith.”