We begin with the end in mind. As creatures made for union with God, we can only find true fulfillment through an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. And that relationship demands engagement from the whole person: body, mind and soul. In all that we do at St. Martin’s – farm-work, study and prayer – we seek to create a rich and fertile soil for God to do His work in cultivating Saints.
Nurture authentic masculinity
Rather than a coarse, superficial machismo, authentic masculinity demands perseverance in pursuit of the arduous good. It requires constant self-denial in service of God, family, and community. Boys at St. Martin’s will do hard things everyday to counteract our deeply rooted human tendency toward softness and sloth.
Heal the imagination
An imagination fed predominantly on the neon glow of screens is weakened by passivity and contact with the unreal. St. Martin’s replaces screens and the noise of pop culture with the great outdoors and with folk music and poetry — giving mind and heart the time and space to acclimate to the deeper beauty of God’s creation.
St. Martin’s will place boys in the constant, near occasion of wonder. The love of learning and the desire for God are magnified by the response of wonder in the face of Mystery and Beauty. Beholding Orion on a crisp winter’s evening, young minds will begin to stir with an affinity for first things and questions about our origin and destiny.
Deep prayer requires sustained attentiveness, a skill all but lost in our era of sound-bytes and instant gratification. Boys at St. Martin’s will learn to look beyond themselves in establishing habits of mind and soul sensitive to the silent places where God is found: in the Eucharist, in the wisdom of Creation, and within their own hearts.
“Noise is a whirlwind that avoids looking oneself in the face and confronting the interior emptiness…What will become of our world if it cannot find oases of silence?”
Life at St. Martin’s
Take a glimpse into our weekdays
“Liturgy is the consummation of education and the ultimate school of our humanity.” – Stratford Caldecott
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking.” Matthew 11:19
“If there is one mark more striking than another about the Catholic Church it is its intellectual freedom.” -Hilaire Belloc
“Tis not the food, but the content, That makes the table’s merriment.” -Robert Herrick
“He must bring the natural powers of the soul under the influence of grace, and this he does through prayer.” -St. Bonaventure
“A truly great intellect is one which takes a connected view of old and new, past and present, far and near, and which has an insight into the influence of all these one on another.” -Blessed John Henry Newman
“To become a man one must be broken to bodily hardship and bodily strain such as are called forth in athletic contests.” -Fr. Edward Leen
“This magical, marvelous food on our plate, this sustenance we absorb, has a story to tell. It has a journey. It leaves a footprint. It leaves a legacy. To eat with reckless abandon, without conscience, without knowledge; folks, this ain’t normal.” -Joel Salatin
6:15pm: Study Hall
“To open the mind, to correct it, to refine it, to enable it, to know, and to digest, master, rule, and use its knowledge, to give it power over its own faculties, application, flexibility, method, critical exactness, sagacity, resource, address, eloquent expression.” -Blessed John Henry Newman
8:00pm: Free Time
“Man only plays when he is in the fullest sense of the word a human being, and he is only fully a human being when he plays.” -Friedrich Schiller
“In manus tuas Domine, commendo spiritum meum / Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” -Responsory of Compline
9:30pm: Lights Out
“Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch or weep tonight, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.” -St. Augustine
The Good life…
Mindful of the Benedictine dictum ora et labora – pray and work, St. Martin’s Academy is committed to a cultural revitalization centered in the Mass. The liturgy is at the very heart of the school’s life and mission. Students attend Mass, pray the Rosary, and sing Compline daily while participating actively in the calendar of the Church’s liturgical year.
St Martin’s is no industrial assembly line of workforce preparation. It is an encounter with the Real in its organic form, as faith and reason are brought into contact with daily life. Our rigorous academics include Latin, Greek, Logic, Physics, and Natural History (to name a few), and are a thorough preparation for any college or vocation.
Boys “labor in the vineyards” as full participants in a diversified farming enterprise that incorporates animal husbandry and permaculture. Respecting the rich natural resources of southeast Kansas, our farm-to-table operation helps boys learn the value of hard work and good stewardship, while connecting them to the food they eat.
Rugby is played in the Spring in the competitive Kansas and Missouri region. Fall semester features our unique Functional Outdoor Resilience Training—FORT Leadership Program. Run by outdoorsmen and former military, FORT develops fitness, teamwork, and grit through intense physical and mental challenges.
With immense natural resources available, weekends and free-time at St. Martin’s will offer students limitless opportunities in fishing, camping, kayaking, boating, backpacking, hiking, rock-climbing, and bush-craft. Complementing these outdoor activities will be trips to nearby cities to enjoy museums, plays, concerts and other cultural events.
As you go about your daily life, how often do you hear voices in song? If you hear much at all you are with us in a happy minority. Saint Martin’s as a campus and culture is suffused in song where students are encouraged to be makers of music rather than simply consumers. This is not an exercise in nostalgia, but participation in vibrant oral culture.
St. Martin’s enjoys a monastic groundedness with roots in the tough Kansas clay. But there is wisdom to be learned from travel. Struggling to communicate in a foreign-tongue is humbling. Encountering different cultures expands the mind. And traveling abroad makes home sweet again. St. Martin’s graduates are nothing if not well-rounded.
“The only honest endowment for a school is a self-sufficient farm, without machines, to feed a chaplain, teachers, a cook, and boys who eat like hogs but also hoe, chop, pitch hay, and shovel dung.”
Patrick Whalen, Headmaster and Co-Founder
BA: University of Michigan
Mr. Whalen graduated from St. Gregory’s Academy in Pennsylvania in 2005. From 2007 to 2016 Mr. Whalen served on Active Duty in the United States Marine Corps, first enlisted and subsequently as an officer. He has deployed multiple times, served in a variety of leadership positions within the Marines, and received multiple leadership awards. Currently a Ph.D. candidate at Washington University in St. Louis, Mr. Whalen has published poetry, translations, and articles in a variety of journals and books. Mr. Whalen and his wife Kristi have four children.
Daniel Kerr, President and Co-Founder
BA: University of Dallas
Daniel Kerr’s desire to start St. Martin’s began well over 15 years ago after reading John Senior’s short work on the founding of a boys’ school, The Restoration of Innocence. Prior to St. Martin’s, Mr. Kerr co-founded AdjusterPro, helping lead the growth of a two-man operation into a team of 35 that has become the nation’s leading educational provider in insurance adjuster & appraiser licensing. In 2015, in conjunction with Fr. McElwee, Daniel started The Prairie Troubadour, an annual Symposium of Catholic Culture named in honor of his father, the late Gerald F. Kerr. Mr. Kerr and his wife Katie raise their 6 spirited children on a farm bustling with cattle, hogs, sheep and a variety of barnyard fowl.
Kenneth Klassen, Academic Dean
BA, MA, Ph.D.: University of Kansas
Dr. Klassen has devoted his life to education. With over 40 years teaching experience in a variety of subjects from Calculus and Physics to English and Latin, Dr. Klassen’s warmth and wit have made him a beloved and revered figure in the Fort Scott community. He and his wife, Holly, raised 7 children on a small farm where they embraced agrarian living long before it was cool: milking a cow, growing vegetables, raising chickens and a variety of livestock as they enjoyed encountering God in His other book, the book of Nature.
Ron Klassen, Teacher
BA, MA: University of Kansas
Ron Klassen has taught Latin in the Fort Scott school system for over 30 years, justly earning the nickname by which he is universally known: “Magister.” The Magister’s quixotic quest to bring beauty and tradition via Latin to the public school systems has touched the hearts and imaginations of generations of Fort Scottians. Ron and his wife, Jean, raised 4 children on a farm where they now cultivate one of the most bountiful food-producing vegetable gardens in Bourbon County.
Ryan Bauer, Teacher
BS: Southern Illinois University
MS: Colorado State University
Ryan’s deep love for Sacred Scripture, liturgy and science have fostered his passion to teach the unity of Faith and Reason. Ryan has always been convicted of his calling to teach and mentor young adults in experiential learning. His undergraduate years were spent studying physics and playing Division I soccer. His love for the outdoors and admiration of the mountains led him to Colorado where he earned his masters in physics. Ryan then spent two years with the Franciscan Friars Minor in South Bend, Indiana learning many valuable lessons in simplicity, prayer and living in community life. Ryan and his wife Danielle (our secretary) were married this summer on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.
Danielle Bauer, Secretary
BA: University of Dallas
Danielle brings to St. Martin’s many years of experience in event planning, corporate marketing, ministry and Catholic education. Danielle graduated from the University of Dallas where she earned her degree in Business Leadership and was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame for volleyball. She loves bringing people together in community and has a passion for hiking, traveling, cooking and sharing her gift of hospitality with others. Danielle and her husband Ryan (one of our teachers) were recently married in St. Louis, where they were both raised.
Fr. Robert McElwee, Chaplain
BS, MA: Wichita State University
M.Div.: Nashotah House Seminary
MS: Pittsburg State University
Fr. McElwee has served the Catholic Diocese of Wichita for over thirty years in a variety of capacities including: Chaplain of a state college, Chaplain of a VA hospital, Associate Pastor, and Pastor. Currently retired from full-time parish work, Fr. McElwee remains tireless in providing the Sacraments, running a local Catholic radio station (that he started), working on and riding Harley Davidsons, teaching at a community college, and serving as a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist. Father’s wife Ginger is one of our teachers and our librarian.
Ginger McElwee, Teacher and Librarian
BS, MA: Wichita State University
MS, EdS: Pittsburg State University
Ginger McElwee is the mother of seven, has worked as a school psychologist and has taught in public and Catholic high schools. Recently she has taught English at Labette Community College and psychology at Pittsburg State University. Ginger’s husband, Fr. Robert McElwee, is our chaplain.
Roger McCaffrey, House Father
BA: Thomas Aquinas College
Roger McCaffrey (otherwise known as “Mac”) grew up in Connecticut, not too far from New York City. His love for the great books was first kindled in high school, and he knew that he wanted to pursue an education in the liberal arts under the guidance of the Catholic Church. A proud alumnus of Thomas Aquinas College, Mac found himself somewhat out of place when he started working on a sales floor for a tech company in New York City. He left the city, making it a point to return to a more contemplative lifestyle, one that he knew would provide meaning just as it had in the past. In his free time, Mac enjoys good company, a good book, and the great outdoors.
Joshua Mincio, House Father
Born to Catholic parents on Long Island, Joshua has spent most of his life in Southern California, where he was
homeschooled with his three younger siblings. For eight months before joining St. Martin’s, Joshua lived and worked near Clear Creek Abbey. During this time, he was significantly influenced by the life and rule of these Benedictines. In his free time, Joshua may be found baking sourdough bread, playing his violin for friends, or sitting under a tree studying Latin.
Giorgio Navarini, House Father
BA: Thomas Aquinas College
Giorgio Navarini grew up the 6th of seven boys in Northern California. After attending St. Michael’s Preparatory School in Southern California, he completed his baccalaureate at Thomas Aquinas College. Hoping to further his education in graduate studies, he sees his time at St. Martin’s as essential to his development as a teacher and mentor. Interests include reading, linguistics, backpacking, jiu-jitsu, music, film critiquing, enjoying sunsets, and scotch-tasting.
Michael Taylor, Farming Instructor
Native Kansan Mike Taylor spent two formative years as a hunting guide in some of the most remote wilds of Alaska, frequently surviving alone on what he was able to catch or kill. Whether it’s bush-craft or religious art, Mike is a natural maker with an artist’s eye. He was raised on a farm and has spent the last decade working in a dairy. He is an enthusiast for small-scale, intensive agricultural methods including permaculture, aquaponics, and mob-grazing. Mike and his lovely wife Jenna have two beautiful daughters.
St. Martin of Tours
Our patron served as an elite soldier in the Emperor’s guard in the Roman army in the early 4th century. It was during this period that Martin branded Christian consciousness with the iconic image of the mounted soldier giving his cloak to a freezing beggar. Soldier, monk, bishop, mystic, and saint: Martin exemplifies every ambition of the Academy for its students. St. Martin’s feast on November 11th, known formerly as Martinmas, was for centuries a kind of Catholic Thanksgiving where roasted beast and the fruits of the harvest adorned the table to be enjoyed in community. At St. Martin’s Academy, Martinmas is celebrated in that same spirit as we delight in the true festivity made possible by meaningful work.
Duc in Altum
St. Martin’s Academy’s motto Duc in altum (from our Lord’s direction to Peter, James and John to “cast out into deep waters”) goes beyond good fishing advice. It sums up the boldness of the adventure to which our Lord calls each of us in pursuit of His Will. You can play safely in the shallows, or, casting out into the deep, catch something of Real, Everlasting value.
To accommodate growth in enrollment, we will be adding bunkhouses to house 12 boys with each house operating under the leadership of a Senior Captain. These simple, Spartan structures will be built by staff and students together out of native timbers.
As our student body grows to 60 at capacity, we will complete construction of our bunkhouses to give us a total of 5, each housing 12 young men. Bunkhouses will have basic amenities such as electricity and running water and will be maintained, cleaned and cared for by the students.
Library & Amphitheatre
As our school and campus mature, we’ll add a beautiful, sustainably constructed academic building with classrooms, faculty offices and a robust library. An amphitheater for plays, concerts, talent shows and re-enactments of Pericles’ funeral oration will grace the hillside.
The crown jewel of our campus will be our Chapel, built of native stone and situated on the highest point of campus, facing due East. From Morning Prayer and Holy Mass to the recitation of the Rosary and the chanting of Compline, life will radiate outwards from the Blessed Sacrament to give meaning and purpose to everything we do at St. Martin’s.
Nature is never spent. There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.