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Young Catholic men can now learn a trade in a Catholic environment


Carlos andre Santos | Shutterstock

Cerith Gardiner - published on 08/17/19

Filling a void, Harmel Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, will begin taking students next year.

Harmel Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, will be welcoming male students next year who want to learn a trade while developing their Catholic education. While in the past schools such as Thomas Aquinas College or Ave Maria University have given young Catholics an opportunity to gain a degree in a faith-filled environment, there has been very little for those who want to do the same when it comes to the trades.

The new academy was founded by two tradesmen in the region: Brian Black, head of Grand Rapids Builders, and Ryan Pohl, a journeyman CNC machinist. The school really is a local initiative with further backing from Micron Manufacturing and Kuyper College from the same area, and will offer 12-15 places in the first year, with expectations to expand yearly.
Black shared with Perry West at the Catholic News Agency his goal behind the school, stating he wanted the students to experience their trade hands-on, while developing their knowledge of Christ. “Christ in their lives as it relates specifically to work, their family life, and their own mission in the Church,” he explained. “We are going to tell you about the integrity of your life. We are going to inform you about Christ who chose to become man as a carpenter, as a tradesman.”
Over a two-year period, students will take part in classes and apprenticeships, as well as humanities courses. By studying history, philosophy, theology, politics, papal documents and the works of Aristotle, that students will deepen their knowledge and understanding. Black is quick to point out the academic and religious studies are there to challenge the students through open discussion and reading. “It’s going to be very practical. It’s going to be rigorous and vigorous at the same time. We are planning on challenging and [investing] into some of this stuff because there are a lot of issues that young men have to face now,” explains Black.
Black and Pohl are hoping to fill a void in the education field where there is currently little on offer for men who are more mechanically minded, looking to learn in a Catholic environment, while not notching up tens of thousands in college debt.
The campus of Harmel Academy can potentially house 300 men, and Black stresses that by keeping the numbers down, students will be able to forge not only impressive metal works, but also friendships, through working and praying together. With students gathering daily for morning prayer, there will also hopefully be the opportunity for the campus to hold Mass and even offer retreats. Bishop David Walkowiak of Grand Rapids is currently looking for a suitable priest to serve the school.
The cost to enroll is $18,500/year, which includes both fees and accommodation.
The academy will no doubt appeal to many young men who want to actively bring Christ into their lives and future careers. If you know of any men who may be interested, then it’s worth reading the whole CNA article in full here, as well as taking the time to look at the academy’s website.
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