Light On The Hill

How SLS Helps Young Men Grow in Virtue

Posted by Francisco Sauceda on Feb 16, 2021 4:00:00 PM


If you ask students, parents, alumni, and faculty what it is that makes St. Lawrence Seminary special, you are likely to get a range of answers. But nearly every answer will lead you back to SLS’s Mission and Values. These core beliefs are at the heart of every rationale, decision, and aspect of our program. Over the course of two, three, or four years, boys who are daring enough to embrace our program grow into impressive young men of faith. We ask a lot of our students, but we work to instill in them the tools they need to live the six core values of St. Lawrence Seminary.

Spirituality: Fostering a relationship with Jesus that directs a lifetime

Spiritual formation is at the core of a student’s life at SLS. From his involvement in Mass, to being taught different ways to pray, to spending time in retreat, each student is given the tools, time and encouragement needed to foster and develop a personal relationship with Jesus. At any time on campus, you may find a young man in conversation with his spiritual director, praying in the chapel on his own, or beginning each class with prayer. In a world that so often turns away from faith, our program allows, aids, and expects students to dedicate time to spiritual development.

Knowledge: Pursuing academic, moral and spiritual depth

In our world of 24-hour access to information and entertainment, it is becoming increasingly difficult to instill true depth of thought and understanding. It is a challenge that all educators face, and it is one that SLS confronts directly. Our program challenges our students to become life-long learners, encouraging them to not only learn the content of a course but to learn how to ask critical questions that lead to deeper engagement.

Whether it is exploring the depths of an academic subject, contemplating the morality of modern society, or deciphering God’s call in his life, students at SLS aren’t allowed to float at the surface. They are challenged to dive deeper and form clearer understandings of thought-provoking subjects. We prioritize a pursuit of knowledge, so students develop an appreciation for learning, to serve them well throughout their lives.

Social Skills: Interacting in an effective, positive and respectful manner

Simple acts (like holding doors open or removing hats within buildings) to more challenging ones (like accepting “no” for an answer or learning how to question an authority figure properly) are skills that benefit students throughout their lifetimes. We teach and nurture teenagers these vital life skills through our Social Skills Program.

From freshman year through senior year, students are taught social skills and are held to a high standard to apply them in every facet of our school’s program. As students develop, they take on leadership roles to test out their skills — for example, seniors mentor our freshmen and help to positively develop the St. Lawrence Seminary culture. Results of this practice speak for themselves: our students are regularly singled out as some of the politest, most well-mannered, gentlemanly high schoolers that many people have ever met. These skills serve them well in a world where such behavior is often lacking.

Diversity: Building fraternity and community by respecting and celebrating uniqueness

The school’s ethnic diversity is among its most celebrated qualities. On a small hill in the middle of rural Wisconsin lies one of the most diverse assemblies around. Traditionally 30% Hispanic, 30% Asian, 30% Caucasian, and 10% other cultures and backgrounds, students get to meet, live with, and, most importantly, become brothers to young men from across the globe. Diversity is an asset in scholarship through expanding the student’s world view offering new perspectives and a love of humanity.

Students experience cultural celebrations like TET (the Lunar New Year celebrated in many Asian countries), the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (celebrated throughout many Hispanic countries), and the Cultural Heritage Festival (that celebrates each student’s unique background). Through our fraternity structure, our dorm arrangements, and our intentionality in fostering community, our students come away with a truly global perspective at a much younger age than possible in many schools. St. Lawrence Seminary has a unique community that works to instill understanding and brotherhood to truly represent the universal Church.

Humble Commitment: Serving by sacrificing for others

Ask students what their most powerful and cherished memories are of their time at St. Lawrence Seminary and many of them will recall their ministry opportunities—like working with those with intellectual disabilities, to rehabbing homes in urban Milwaukee, to serving the disenfranchised at soup kitchens and food pantries. Students move beyond regular “community service” experiences to focus on developing relationships and deeper understandings of the challenges that others face. While there are minimum service hour requirements, it is rare that those are not dramatically exceeded, and through first-hand experience students come to the unique understanding of how to respect all people.

Safe Community: Providing the physical and emotional freedom that assists learning, growing and exploring

One of St. Lawrence Seminary’s top goals is to provide for the safety and well-being of students physically and emotionally. From structured activities, to consistent supervision, to direct teachings and consequences, students live in a safe community that allows them to make mistakes, learn as they grow, and live together peacefully. Our students come from all over the country and the world, and, no matter their home experience, find it challenging to live with so many other teenage boys. Conflict does arise at time, but through all the aspects taught and practiced through our program, students are well equipped to rise to the challenge of differences in order to build a community that supports all.

Understanding what makes SLS so special requires an exploration of each of the values that we cherish. Intentionally living in a safe community and embracing humble commitment, diversity, social skills, knowledge, and spirituality is what makes a St. Lawrence Seminary High School student stand out in all the best ways. These values equip them to grow and thrive not only in high school but also in the wider world where they can continue to demonstrate the Hilltopper Spirit throughout their lives.

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St. Lawrence Seminary is an all boys Catholic boarding school located in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin. We welcome students from the Midwest, across the United States, and from around the globe. Inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the example of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Lawrence Seminary provides a residential college preparatory education in a living Catholic community nurturing mature, well-rounded men of faith. See if St. Lawrence is right for you and your son.

Topics: Faith & Formation, Mission & Values, College & Life Preparation