Even though intellectual and spiritual development of the student is the principal concern of the Pharr Oratory Schools, its leadership in no way discounts the importance of sports and physical education. The pagan Greek philosopher Thales (ca. 620 BC-546 BC) wrote: “What man is happy? He who has a healthy body, a resourceful mind and a docile nature.”. Again, the pagan Roman poet Juvenal (1st and 2nd centuries) stated: “You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body. . . . For assuredly, the only road to a life of peace is virtue” (Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sana. . . . semita certe tranquillae per virtutem patet unica vitae).
Father Robert Schwickerath, in his book Jesuit Education: Its History and Principles wrote that
Physical culture forms a most important feature in a good system of education: mens sana in corpore sano. Athletics, outdoor sports, and gymnastics do much for the physical health of the students. Besides, it demands and consequently helps to develop quickness of apprehension, steadiness and coolness, self-reliance, self-control, readiness to subordinate individual impulses to a command. This is all valuable for education. (p. 570)
The human soul and mind give testimony to a human body where, in baptism, the Blessed Trinity comes to dwell. And, so, the body must stay fit, graceful and comely, so that the indwelling Spirit will joyfully touch others outwardly while inwardly shaping the inhabited soul itself. If Oratorian spirituality teaches and encourages the disciplined practice of daily prayer, all the more should that Philippian school for holiness instruct and promote the sanctity of an well-exercised and nourished body sheltering the Divine in an earthly abode.
The faculty, staff, and Board of Governors of the Pharr Oratory School System teach the importance of wellness through healthy eating and disciplined physical activity. In this way, the two orders come together to exhibit two things: physical gracefulness and spiritual grace as external expressions of divinely elevated human dignity.
Within this context, physical education prepares Oratory students to be upright players of any sport. Thus engaged, the Oratory student is gifted with a wonderful venue for character formation. Through divine grace, sports are uplifted to God, teaching students endurance, patience, sacrifice, and teamwork.
Physical education is, therefore, included within the students’ weekly class schedule. The basic curricular activities are prayer, sound exercise and healthy eating. In accord with TAC, the Texas Administrative Code (Title 19, Part II, Chapter 116), the just-stated curricular activities take the form of games, music, and unique fitness dynamics. Physical education instructors have experience working with their assigned grade level; they must also be specifically educated in fitness and nutrition.
With songs of joy my heart does sing
Of mortal beauty to behold
As dreams divine a wondrous spring
Where new creations can unfold
For this God planned a place for me
In halls where Philip’s sons do strive
To turn the souls of men made free
Tow’rd Triune Truth and Love alive.
Into my hands God put this world
With pow’r and grace and love sublime;
Into my trust His task unfurled
With humble fearlessness divine.
Within the cloistered walls I love
where I was schooled in Neri’s bent
To set my sights on heav’n above,
That, thus, my earthly life be spent!