We have had thousands of students go through our Great Books Program since we launched in 2000. If you are one of our alumni, please email us your thoughts and a photo of yourself. We will be happy to post the information below. Please send to info@angelicum.net.

kellyI have been truly astonished at what an impact this program has had on me in the relatively short time I have been involved in it. I can’t put my finger on exactly what makes this program so powerful. Obviously the Great Books are amazing, but the live classes take them to a whole new level, making them more exciting and relevant and compelling than ever before! Seeing things from new perspectives, exploring the greatest works of mankind with the eyes of faith, teaming up with one’s classmates in the search for truth which has fascinated mankind from the beginning… It’s truly an intellectual adventure, and I’ve loved every minute of it! I’ve felt like I’m really learning and growing. I can’t tell you how many times in the past year I’ve stepped back and marveled at what I can feel happening inside myself just as a result of enrolling in this program. And when I remember that it was a “coincidence” that we even found out about it, I feel so profoundly grateful… “There’s a Divinity that shapes our ends, / Rough-hew them how we will.” So, yes, I agree that this program is life-changing. I am so grateful to be a part of it, and I could never thank you and the other moderators enough for making it possible through your gift of time and labor. It’s so difficult to find real education nowadays, so I look on this program as an answer to prayer in my own life and a gift of God to my generation. I am wholeheartedly recommending this program to everyone who asks, in the hope that many, many people will be able to share this tremendous experience. – Keelin – Class of 2019

Class of 2017: Christophe Sanchez-O’Brien – I honestly believe that my life would look drastically different from what it is today if my parents had not enrolled me in the Angelicum Academy’s Great Books program.  I will always remember watching my three older sisters go through the program, as I was in the Socratic discussion classes, and remember feeling so excited that soon it would be my turn to read the “Great” Books they were reading.  Upon beginning my freshman year, I found both The Illiad and The Odyssey extremely entertaining, perhaps a bit long but nonetheless very thought provoking works, epics, indeed.  My journey of the Great Books had begun; I proceeded to read beautiful and stirring books containing wisdom such as Pascals, “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.1 Then there is Lady Philosophy, “The good are always powerful and the evil are weak and futile.”2   I also read works that were harder to read such as Ptolemy.  Ask me what he wrote about now and I wouldn’t be able to say much, but I enjoyed that reading and I continue to read Great Books, having just completed reading George Orwell’s 1984.  As I near the end of the four-year Great Books program, I look back and ask myself, out of all the amazing works I’ve read, which one has had the greatest influence on me, which has affected my life in the most profound way?  While I believe that all the Great Books have something to impart to their reader, I must say the work that has been most influential in my life is The Confessions of Saint Augustine, for through this book I saw that life is truly an adventure in pursuit of truth, all men partake in this adventure, having been made to seek and unite ourselves with truth; but in order to find truth man needs to realize where it lies, and while this quest may take a life-time, if one is truly in search of truth one will find it in the end.

Class of 2017: Mary Maresch – I have had a great experience through the Great Books program. I will forever be grateful and touched by my teachers, these works, and all the other works that we read, their authors, and those whom these stories are about. These works have acquired a special place in my heart.

Class of 2017: Catherine Kniaz – To contemplate the thoughts of others, to enquire into their works, and to judge those works for oneself—this is to study the Great Books. Through the course of my Great Books education, I have learned to love asking questions, and even more so, I have come to love the truth. Wisdom is what I seek; I seek to know the truth. To this end, I have read the Great Books, not because all ideas are true, but because, with the proper guide, all ideas lead to the discovery of truth. This proper guide is philosophy, which takes me out of myself and draws me into reality. I can think of no text which more profoundly strengthens and affirms my quest for Truth than The Consolation of Philosophy. Boethius’ love of wisdom nurtures my study of the Great Books, directing me towards the “greatest Good and the fulness of blessedness.” Lady Philosophy guides me into rational inquiry. Her questions console me, and the Truth delights my soul. As I reflect upon my eight semesters of Great Books, a wordless impression of pleasure comes over me, as though I were recalling my first meeting with a friend from whom I have since then never parted; I have discovered Truth, and I shall not be content until I obtain it in its fulness. With Lady Philosophy as my guide, I shall page through every book, enquire into every thought, until I may encounter the fulness of Truth.

Class of 2017: Samuel Thomas – Throughout my four years in the Great Books Discussions class I have had the privilege of reading some of the greatest literary works of history. Much more importantly I have been given the gift of discussing these works and what they present with an intelligent, charismatic, and intellectually hungry group of friends. It is bitter sweet for me that this is my last semester with the program. I am simultaneously excited for my future and saddened by what I will be leaving behind. Despite having a few weeks left, I already miss the weekly discussion, the ever new perspectives on humanity and the world that come from not only the literature but also from the individuals both teaching and taking the class. Truly I have at one time or another become bored if only for a moment with every academic pursuit other than this class. There was not a single lesson (if they could be called lessons) that was not enriching to my mind. I apologize that my opening paragraph has nothing to do with the point of this essay; but I cannot with good conscious leave this time of my life behind without thanking the people who have given me the most helpful and enjoyable time of my academic life. From the bottom of my heart I thank everyone involved in this program from the teachers to the students, for teaching me how to express, to listen, and to learn.

Class of 2017: John Peyton – A Great Books education can only be described as an intellectual adventure. It is an experience that enriches one’s perspective by introducing one to brilliant writers, taking one to many different times and places, and acquainting one with a diverse assortment of insightful ideas. Moreover, it teaches one how to really think about things in an enlightened manner and make the best of one’s God-given intellect. Many of the works I have read in my Great Books education have inspired me greatly and have drastically altered the way in which I look at the world.

Class of 2017: John Mark Cayer – Over the course of the past three years I have been privileged to participate in a Great Books program. In this program I have been given the opportunity to read the Great Books of Western Civilization, from the philosophical works of the Greeks to the Humanist works of the Renaissance. It was recently asked of me which of these books is my favorite, the strange part is that as simple and common as this question is it requires a great deal of thought to answer. The type of work must be considered, in this case the Great Books as defined and compiled by Robert M. Hutchins, Mortimer J. Adler, and company. The thought process must be compiled, in this instance it turns out to be a personalized version of Mortimer J. Adler’s three criteria for the selection of Great Books. This criteria is threefold, a work must hold Personal Significance, it must be personally re-readable, and must contribute to the reader’s Interior Conversation or have Extensive Relevance to Personal Ideas. In meditating on the Great Books and these three criterion I found that the only Great Book which fulfills these criteria and more is Shakespeare’s Hamlet Prince of Denmark.

Class of 2017: Cody England – I am grateful for all that I have learned and been exposed to through the Great Books Academy. While each reading brought about a new level of knowledge and thinking, the most enjoyable and influential literary piece was The Tempest. The discussion surrounding this play was one of the greatest and most enlightening of the year. William Shakespeare exhibited his amazing skill in creating a magnificent story with very memorable characters that will be the source of discourse and analysis for years to come. I look forward to coming back for a Great Books college level course and experiencing even more fantastic literature. The Great Books Academy program has exposed me to many amazing and challenging books. Even though this is my first year in this program and I have not yet read everything that Great Books offers, I have still been able to enjoy a great amount of literary thought and discussion. In deciding which of the Great Books readings was the most enjoyable and/or influential, both the book itself and the ensuing discussion were considered. The discussions following each of the readings have been very enlightening, but like the books, some were more impact than others. William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest was the most enjoyable read of the year for me and the discussion was the most influential.

Class of 2017: Bryce Queary – The Great Books Program has introduced me to many great readings that shall accompany me throughout my life; however, none shall surpass the impact influence that Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations have had on me. Through his work I have learned several key life skills that have improved me as a person morally and spiritually; for these reasons, I have and shall revisit this great literary work time and time again.

Class of 2017: Alyssa Cunningham – With the many extraordinary literary works that have been composed over the history of civilization, the Great Books Program selects just a few of the most beneficial works and presents them to the reader to observe and experience. Choosing a single reading that has impacted one the most is not an easy task by any means, but there is a book that seems to stand out as one of the most crucial: the Confessions of Augustine of Hippo offer some invaluable lessons to the reader that pertain to one’s spiritual health rather than material matters. These lessons include the mercy of God, the power of faithfulness, and trust in God’s plan. There are many valuable lessons to be learned in the Great Books Program, and some of the most important ones may be found in Augustine’s Confessions. In this work, one learns of God’s abundant mercy, the value of persistence in faith, and the importance of trusting God’s plan. All of these will help contribute to a healthy spiritual life in the reader if he only allows himself to “walk” with Augustine and share his experiences in order to learn the lessons he learned from his own mistakes. Ultimately, the Confessions offer the reader a look at himself and ask how he can apply these lessons to his own actions so that he may perfect his spiritual life and truly find a Sanctuary for his restless heart.

marymClass of 2015: Mary Maresch – I am so incredibly thankful to be apart of the Great Books Program and have a teacher like you, Mrs. K, etc…And I promise you that its not just because you guys are understanding and generous. You’re amazing, inspiring teachers! I have learned so much over the past two years and what I have learned has helped me not just grow in knowledge, but more importantly to grow and challenge me spiritually! I am so thankful for the the opportunity to learn. Thank you very much!!

 

artworkClass of 2015: Angelina De Guzman: First of all, thank you for four amazing years of Great Books and Socratic Discussions. I’ve really learned a lot and it’s been so much fun. It will definitely feel a bit weird not logging into class every week and I’ll miss talking to everyone and hearing everyone talk about the latest reading (and hearing you and Dr. Taylor joking around and discussing the poems). Choosing to take Great Books with Angelicum Academy is definitely one of the best choices we have ever made. On another note, thank you for asking about my art! I’m sending you the art portfolio I compiled for Academy of Art University’s 2015 Summer Portfolio Grant (they awarded me $2,000 for this fall semester!) because it’s the best I have so far. Hope you enjoy it! Thank you very much and God bless! Angelina

 

MarianaBarillasPortraitClass of 2014: Mariana Barillas – My first years within the Great Books Discussions program were highly enjoyable, yet I felt a bit of an outsider as I remained a skeptic among my mostly religious classmates. While the spiritual aspects of the thinking of the Ancient Greek philosophers intrigued me, their medieval successors had the most profound impact on my worldview. In particular, I found the Summa Theologiae by Thomas Aquinas to be fascinating. Once I understood his arguments that there must be an unmoved mover, a first cause, an absolutely necessary being, a perfect being, and a rational designer, I found myself realizing that his conclusion that God exists is not only perfectly logical- it is unavoidable. In addition, he gives God a distinct character. Aquinas defines the spiritual being of God as thinking and willing. His knowledge is absolutely perfect since he knows Himself and all things as appointed by him. Since every knowing being strives after the thing known as end, will is implied in knowing. Inasmuch as God knows himself as the perfect good, He wills himself as end. But in that everything is willed by God, everything is brought by the Divine Will to Himself as an end. Therein God wills good to every being which exists and He loves it. Love becomes the fundamental relation of God to the world. In a modern era that embraces chaos and absurdity as being a fundamental fact of existence, the idea that Truth, Love, and Meaning are woven into the very fabric of our existence was a unique and beautiful concept to me. In unifying the mysteries of our world into a single theory, Aquinas turns the created Universe into a love story.

While life remains complicated and unpredictable, the Great Books Discussions program has given me the certainty of the existence of Divine and Natural Truth. Having read the great thinkers throughout human history, I have realized that the modern conception of Religion and Rationality as being opposing forces has no basis within classical Western philosophy. They are simply different yet equally valid ways of approaching the same Truth. With Knowledge, however, comes great responsibility. I no longer have the leisure of ignorance; I cannot stand idly by as the world begins to fall apart due to the rejection of the traditional concepts of morality, philosophy, and human nature. The Great Books Discussions Program has not only allowed me to find and develop my Faith, it has given me the tools to defend it. For that, I will be forever grateful.

rennClass of 2014: Ren Blackard – I can gladly say that I am happy to have been able to take the Great Books Discussions course. It has aided in shaping who I am today in important aspects of my life; faith with Augustine and Aquinas, empathy with Shakespeare and Jane Austen, and a flexible mentality from authors such as George Orwell and Hobbes. I am sad that the journey is over, but at the same time excited to start down my own college path. Thank you to all the staff that make this program possible, from the moderators who always seem to find the perfect questions to ask in our discussions, to the assignment team who is tasked with understanding the mess us high schoolers attempt to pass as an essay. Thank you for the journey through the ages.

eganClass of 2014: Martha Egan  I seriously cried last night when I remembered it was the last class (of course reading My Antonia at the same time didn’t help). It still amazing to me that one 2 hour online class, one day a week, has such an impact on you!! I am so grateful for the friends, experiences, and awesome discussions I’ve been a part of in this class. I wish all my classes could be this way. Anyway, I will definitely be in touch, and I wish you all the best! Thank you very much! I will repeat over and over how awesome it has been to be a part of this great program, and how much I will miss the wonderful discussions with my classmates. – Martha Egan

frankClass of 2014: Frank – This is an achievement that fulfills a dream of mine that goes back over 50 years when I was a technician, working my way through an engineering degree at the University of Dayton. A young engineer for whom I was working showed me a couple of then recently purchased Britannica Great Books. I was fascinated with the set and have always wanted to explore the books but wasn’t able due to marriage, raising a family and pursuing a career. The past 4 years have been very interesting, stimulating and exciting. Thank you for such an excellent program and I especially thank Mr. Bertucci for his camaraderie and patience. Best wishes to all with many prayers and blessings from one of your oldest students. (picture is of Frank and Jeanette, his wife of 50+ years)

paulClass of 2014: Paul Reilly – Only now as I reflect over my time in the program did I realize what an incredibly unique and special experience it has been. The last four years have been exceptionally enriching – culturally, philosophically, and even spiritually. Having such an exposure to the foundational works of Western civilization has given me a strong educational basis from which to continue my studies in any field.

 

alex

Class of 2014: Alexander Audet – Books leave imprints on our souls. The ones most important to us change the way our minds work. In one sense I feel that I have become the sum of the books I have read. I believe that what we expose our minds to shapes what we think about, and the way we think about it. The Great Books have given me countless ideas that have shaped every aspect of my life from how I see school, and the food I eat, to my view on politics, life and God. I would like to thank all my teachers throughout my four years of the Great Books program, especially Mr. Bertucci and Dr. Taylor. Without them guiding me, I never would have had the chance to learn about all the great ideas passed down through Western thought.

Class of 2014: Joseph Maier – Every experience in life, whether good or bad, contributes in some way to shape who a person becomes. The experience and the lessons learned from it are, consciously or unconsciously, internalized and ultimately become a part of us. There are, in the course of our lives, a few particular experiences that we can point to as incredibly formative and even life-changing. My time studying the Great Books is one such experience. The experience I have had over the last four years in the Great Books program, has been a lens that has brought a sharp focus into my mind and allowed me to see more clearly the intricacies of the human condition, so that I may be better grounded in the truth and with that all-important grounding, I may safely and confidently navigate this complex world. My Classical Great Books education has given me a deeper understanding of human nature and the forces that influence it, and will be invaluable in whatever path I may choose to take in the future.

monkClass of 2014: Brother Mikeal  I’ve been meaning to write a little letter of thanks to all those at Great Books. It was very interesting experience for me. I had a teacher in high school who was very qualitative and human in his approach to teaching, and I gained a lot from it. But I had never participated in a program like Great Books here. I could say a lot, but the basic thing I would like to say is that the way the classes were conducted was very healthy and very human. The great books will always be the great books, but how we approach them makes all the difference. A lot of the goodness in the classes seemed to me to stem from your all’s sensitivity to the poetic experience and the “heart” in the biblical sense. Things in life that are beyond reason and precise definition. Things we need in large and small ways. Things we need to appreciate and respect if we are going to be fully human. Often I think we don’t respect these things, or we underappreciate or despise them. I felt that by learning to respect these things, we could then more fully appreciate more concrete things. Thank you all for providing this. It was a great help to me and for many of the students involved. You all will remain in our prayers, br.mikael

Class of 2014: Kurt Floyd – The Great Books program has been, in my opinion, the most important part of my education so far. It’s not only given me a well-grounded mental picture of the history and ideals of Western civilization, it has given me the wisdom, and in a way the spirit, of the past 3000 years of philosophy and history. It has been invaluable in helping me succeed in and graduate high school, and has given me a solid foundation for learning in the future. It gave me an activity to look forward to – or dread, as was the case a few times in the first year – every week, and has prepared me for college. Before I finish this paper, I’d like to thank all of my teachers, and the paper graders for an amazing four years. I’m eternally grateful that I’ve been privileged enough to have experienced this program, and, God willing, my future children will be able to experience it as well.

Class of 2014: Savannah – One of the most important things that I have learned over the last four years is that we all pursue happiness as the final goal of our lives, and that we find this happiness ultimately only by pursuing the good, the true, and the beautiful. This is the real purpose of education, to assist the student in recognizing and pursuing that which will make him truly happy. But foolish people often see these things as threat or an obstacle to their happiness, and so they twist and pervert them in an attempt to give credence to their own idea of happiness. Reading these books from the great authors of the past, has given me the tools and the knowledge to find the errors and perversions in their arguments, and so guard myself from being led away from the only thing that can truly make us happy: truth. My education up to this point, rather than focusing primarily on the external world, has focused on giving me the tools I need to better understand the human nature that I share, so that I can better understand myself, and effectively combat the corrosive and unfulfilling ideas of the modern world.

Class of 2012: Abigail – As a recent graduate of this admirable institution, I would like express my thanks and admiration for Angelicum Academy. The “Great Books program” is quite simply the ultimate educational experience. Enthusiastic, curious students will excel in this program if offered this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Students gain confidence in communication as they are led by world-class instructors through incredibly memorable discussions over works by Homer, Kant, Shakespeare and more. Throughout middle school/high school it slowly became my favorite class and is by far the one I look back on most fondly as I enter college. I feel so blessed to have been able to participate in the program.

Class of 2012: Kelsey B. – I graduated from the Great Books program two and a half years ago, and now study at a liberal arts university. Although the Great Books program is often extolled (and rightly so) for its ability to prepare students for university studies, its true virtue rests in the fact that it prepares students for more than a few years of academic work. It prepares students for life. The Great Books program finds and develops the love of wisdom in each of us, helping us to love goodness for its own sake and not an arbitrary letter on a transcript. The program ends after four years (much to our chagrin), but students emerge from it as fledgling philosophers, prepared to expand and enlarge this love of wisdom for the rest of our lives.

Class of 2010: Jillian Hansen  I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for these last four years! This program has changed my life for the better in so many ways. You are one of the most extraordinary people I have encountered in my life, and I feel so grateful to have been able to be a part of this program.
Thank you again, for everything!

madi

Class of 2014: Madeleine Peter – Hillsdale College Graduation for my older daughter.  Maddie starts at Hillsdale in August. “Only possible because of Great Books Program.” – Laura Peter (Maddie’s mom)

students