Several new Catholic trade schools are emerging nationwide, here are four

Several new Catholic trade schools are emerging nationwide, here are four

Harmel Academy of the Trades: Merging Faith and Skill

Entering its fourth year, the Harmel Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, holds a clear mission: to shape men while guiding them to follow Jesus Christ.

The academy, exclusively for males, intertwines a comprehensive humanities curriculum encompassing philosophy, theology, history, literature, and film with a robust trade education.

Living on-campus, students engage in communal prayer, bonding through activities like reciting the Divine Office thrice daily.

The initial year, deemed the “foundations year,” serves as a discovery phase for various trades, aiding young men in discerning their career paths.

While some opt for trades not offered by the academy or choose conventional four-year colleges, others stay at Harmel to pursue apprenticeships, particularly in machinist or machine builder tracks.

Expanding its offerings, the academy plans to introduce new tracks like welding and automotive, aiming for accessibility.

Phelps emphasizes that student work at the academy significantly contributes to tuition fees, aided further by scholarships and the “Solidarity Fund” supplementing students’ income during their tenure.

Having already graduated two cohorts, feedback from both graduates and employers has been consistently positive.

Phelps underscores that these graduates are not only skilled but also possess strong character, largely rooted in their dedication to serving a higher purpose.

Kateri College: Bridging Intellect and Craftsmanship

In contrast, Kateri College, slated to open in Gallup, New Mexico, by fall 2025, envisions a broader spectrum of a four-year liberal arts program entwined with trade certification.

Its initial offerings in carpentry and construction will pave the way for future programs in welding, electrical, and diesel mechanics.

John Freeh, a co-founder, emphasizes the need to reconcile intellectual pursuits with manual work, aiming to unite virtues inherent in both realms for a more holistic human experience.

To alleviate student debt, the college plans partnerships with corporations and benefactors to reduce tuition.

Additionally, students can gain practical experience and earn during the academic year and summers under skilled craftsmen, further aiding in their education costs.

The college aims to reach out to the substantial Native American population in New Mexico, highlighting untapped scholarship opportunities tailored for them.

With plans to admit 30-40 students in its inaugural year, Freeh sees a movement of Catholic trade schools emerging, considering it a manifestation of divine guidance.

About Joseph Bukuras

Joseph Bukuras, a journalist at the Catholic News Agency, brings a wealth of experience from various sectors, including government, non-profits, and Catholic education.

His contributions span numerous publications and have been recognized by prominent media outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Holding a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Catholic University of America, he operates out of the Boston area.

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