Friends in Christ,
For the past three and a half years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a court-side seat in watching Harmel Academy of the Trades move from an idea to a new school to an established community of working men.
Simply put, some of the finest men I’ve ever met have been students of Harmel Academy.
And while the state of the wider culture gives many reasons for concern, I can honestly say I’ve never felt more hopeful for the next generation than I have watching the students of Harmel grow into men of skill, prayer, virtue, and intelligence.
It is therefore a distinct honor to be named president of such an academy. I am grateful for the appointment, and I do not take the responsibility lightly.
As we move into the next phase of Harmel’s development, Harmel’s students, alumni, faculty, staff, board, and supporters will have a new set of tasks to achieve: new recruiting and fundraising initiatives, expanded programming, and a continuous deepening of our spiritual formation.
But our core mission remains the same: to form — and more importantly to be — faithful apprentices to Our Lord Jesus Christ in our daily work, always remembering that “he looks with love upon human work and the different forms that it takes, seeing in each one of these forms a particular facet of man’s likeness with God, the Creator and Father” (Laborem Exercens, 26).
I am very excited for the future of Harmel Academy. We’ve just graduated our second class, and are working hard to welcome our fourth class in just a few weeks. Our programs are truly unique, and our students are in desperate demand. But more importantly, there is much work to be done to reintroduce what St. John Paul II called “the Gospel of Work” to our communities, culture, and businesses.
As we continue this work, I want especially to thank founding president Brian Black for his faith and hard work in beginning this Academy. People often remark on the difficulty of starting a new venture, but I don’t think people understand just how much work it is to start an entirely new type of venture. Brian’s many sacrifices over the past few years will forever sit as key stones in the foundation of Harmel Academy.
Likewise, to all of you who have supported the Academy through your work and prayer: I look forward to laboring beside you in our humble corner of the Lord’s Vineyard. May Our Lord bless this work, and may we always be protected by the intercession of His blessed mother and His foster father.
St. Joseph, pray for us!
David Michael Phelps
President, Harmel Academy of the Trades
P.S. I hope you will consider joining me in thanking Brian for his service at Harmel by sending him a note of gratitude at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.P.S. While our incoming class looks to be perhaps our largest yet, we can still accommodate more. If you know a young man who would consider a gap-year studying the trades, or one interested in beginning an apprenticeship, please connect us with him!