Catholic Social Teaching: Life and Dignity of the Human Person
The miracle of the Immaculate Conception, Mary’s birth without the stain of original sin, embodies the life of this House. It also connects to the history of Catholic education in Nashville. From 1909-1954, Immaculate Mother Academy provided Catholic education to African-Americans in Nashville, and when it was closed in 1954, its male students integrated Father Ryan High School.
This educational legacy and the Blessed Mother’s inspiration are present at Father Ryan today; from our May Processions to Rosaries to the statuary on the campus to the tributes to social justice leaders. Her life as Christ’s Mother serves as an example to our students of a life of service, love and respect for the dignity of all of God’s children.
A Nashville native, Mr. Thompson joined Father Ryan in 1998 to be an English teacher and coach.
While playing collegiate level basketball in the NAIA, he completed his Major in English Education, with a Minor in Speech, in 1998 at Lipscomb University. In 2009, Mr. Thompson completed his Master of Arts in English at Middle Tennessee State University. He is currently the Irish men’s and women’s head golf coach and recently stepped down as a men’s varsity basketball assistant coach after 20 years. Mr. Thompson’s passion for creating lifelong learners is evident in the classroom and beyond. He teaches English IV Honors and Film Studies.
Feast Day: March 3 Patron Saint of Racial Justice and Philanthropists
Saint Katharine Drexel was born to a wealthy family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1858. After visiting a reservation in her young adulthood, she began donating money from her inheritance to support the basic needs and education of Native Americans. Yet donations did not satisfy her thirst for justice. When she complained that there was not a religious order dedicated to serving these students, Pope Leo XIII encouraged her to start her own order of sisters. In 1891 she founded the order of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Katharine took vows to become the first sister in her own order and spent the next forty-four years building schools across the country to serve both Native American and African American students. One such school was founded in Nashville.
Immaculate Mother Academy was established by the Nashville Diocese through a grant from Katharine Drexel in 1905. Sister Drexel insisted that attendance not be restricted to Catholics only, and she set strict standards of instructional competence, concerned dedication, discipline, focus and pride. Immaculate Mother Academy served as one of the first private black schools in Nashville. In 1954, following Brown vs. Board of Education, eighteen students from Immaculate Mother Academy helped to integrate Father Ryan High School, paving the way for athletic hero Willie Brown ’65 and the first black Valedictorian, Charles Thomas ’66.
“The mission of Katharine Drexel was a war against the evils of poverty, racial discrimination, and social neglect. She provided a beacon of light against hopelessness, frustration, and discrimination.” ~Archbishop Marino of Atlanta