Reflections on Six Years at Kolbe Academy

The years went by faster and faster. Old people report that time speeds up, and my guess is that we stop a lot and think about things, and then wonder where the time went. Anyway, I was 71 when I was recruited to teach an online theology course and I am 77 now, ready to retire.

This year I felt I was doing a retrospective of the online course I have created. It is the readings and assignments from the homeschool course, with some additional material, mostly pictures (only one of our texts has pictures) and bits of articles. Last year was the last time I was very creative, but I have quite a stash of things to share during class. I highlight some points in each week’s reading, but for the rest of it, I figure the students can read it themselves and do the study guide questions.

My students this year are well grounded in the Catholic religion. When I ask them questions in class, I am often surprised by the maturity of their answers. I think what has happened is that these students have come up through Kolbe Academy Online, and the other teachers have already done my work for me.

I will miss the interaction with young minds. I won’t miss teacher training. When the online classes started six years ago, someone at Kolbe knew our son, Father Avram Brown, and asked him to teach theology. Of course, a parish priest does not have time, and he sent the nicest letter of recommendation I ever saw and said he had just the person for them. At some point he told me. I am very glad to have been able to help out and am also very glad my work is done.

Judith, Avram and Dwight Brown

My wife and I moved two years ago from our home of 32 years in the Cascade Range to Vina, California, in the Sacramento Valley. The Abbey of New Clairvaux is here, a Trappist monastery that we love. Judith wanted to be within walking distance and looked for thirteen years for a house to buy in the little town. She and I think our home here is our last home, and perhaps it will be.

We go to the monastery twice a day, for Lauds and Mass in the morning and Vespers in the evening. The music is especially good, a hidden treasure in the walnut and almond orchards of this rural place. The monks sing in English in solemn chant tones, and the cantors have impressive voices. The two monks who play the pipe organ prefer minor chords.

View from within the 800-year-old chapter house brought from Santa Maria de Ovila in Spain.

I used to ask my son if I could have my life back, and I think he is satisfied that the monastery will keep me busy and out of trouble. I am learning to be a docent, speaking to groups of visitors. It is very different from a theology class, because they are all ages and are often not even Catholic. They come to see the new church, reconstructed with 800-year-old stones from the monastery of Santa Maria De Ovila Trillo in Spain, and to visit the winery.

I have enjoyed teaching at Kolbe – I wouldn’t have kept doing it if I didn’t – and I am a little sad to be leaving. It has been a pleasure to work in a school where my Catholicism fits right in rather than being something to be discrete about.

Stop by the monastery if you are passing this way.

Blog Post written by:

Dwight Brown

Dwight Brown