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Department Overview

Mr. John Mohrmann, Department Chair
Mr. John Mohrmann
Department Chair

The English curriculum is a six-year required program. At all levels students read a variety of works, engage in thoughtful discussion, practice different kinds of writing, study the elements of language, and learn new vocabulary. The goal of the program is to enable students to develop facility in wielding the language effectively for a variety of purposes. In learning to use language accurately, whether in writing or in discussion, students develop the skills of critical thinking. 


Faculty Members Course Assignments, 2017-18
Mr. John Mohrmann, Department Chair Form IV, Form V, Form VI
Mr. Tim Bussen Form III, Form V, Form VI
Mr. Tim Clark Form III, Form IV, Form VI
Mrs. Judy Mohan Form I, Form V, Form VI
Father Gregory Mohrmann, O.S.B., '76 Form V, Form VI
Mr. Mike Nickolai, '03 Form II
Father Augustine Wetta, O.S.B. Form I
Mr. Tim Woodcock Form I, Form II, Form VI, The Record moderator
Father Ralph Wright, O.S.B. Form VI


At Saint Louis Priory, we believe that language, in written and spoken forms, matters greatly. Through a six-year program of reading, writing, and discussion, we in the English Department strive to engender in our students an appreciation of and facility with language and to help refine their ability to read, to observe, to think, to express their thoughts accurately and forcefully, to listen, and to wonder. 

Literature is language at its most refined, and it is our goal to offer the students, through a wide range of readings including the classic and the contemporary, the opportunity to discover both the joy of reading and the moving personal and aesthetic experience literature provides. At every grade level, students read and discuss literature in all genres, study the elements of language, and learn new vocabulary; close and careful reading of the text infuses the study of literature throughout. At no point in the program do we consider it important that students in a particular grade level be studying the same text at the same time; and although most students at most levels study most of the same plays and novels, teachers often supplement with different titles.In other words, we realize the value of a shared familiarity with certain worthwhile literature, but we also acknowledge that our approach to the study of literature is more important. We strive to develop life-long readers with a sense for language who comprehend material, recognize how literary techniques contribute to meaning, detect subtleties of tone and inference, and, as a result, experience literature sensitively and personally. Naturally, students develop this sense and detect these subtleties gradually and at different times as they mature as readers and thinkers.The close reading of literature is a skill that requires practice; therefore, our approach to the study and discussion of literature necessarily involves repetition and reinforcement as it builds through the program.

The same is true for writing.  Students use writing to refine and sharpen thinking. We work to develop writers who, confronted with any writing task, will express themselves effectively, confidently, honestly, and accurately in their own voice. Recognizing and encouraging the relationship between creative and critical modes of expression, we provide students the opportunity for both throughout the program. During the six-year program, for instance, students study basic grammar, sentence structure, and usage; write précis and paraphrase; summarize and analyze poems, stories, plays, novels, and literary nonfiction; compose poetry, fiction, and personal narrative; and explore various modes of discourse (narrative, descriptive, reflective, argumentative, etc.). Our teachers, experienced professionals, may require different assignments from year to year, or teachers at a particular grade level may even give different assignments. Again, it is not so important that students receive the same assignments at the same time, as that they continually revisit a variety of tasks in order to hone their writing skills. As they progress through the program, of course, the students encounter progressively more challenging tasks. In their critical writing, for instance, students might trace plot or analyze character in a junior school assignment and then, in the later years, be asked to identify and critique stylistic devices in a passage or poem.  Molding language to thought in the form of writing is a craft that requires hard work and time for reflection. Therefore, we emphasize that writing is a process and that to develop a topic, organize ideas, and command a nuanced vocabulary, students must diligently revise their writing.

“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

Prologue, 1

“This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.”

Prologue, 1

“First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.”

Prologue, 4

“If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim. (Ps 33[34]:13)”

Prologue, 17

“Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess 2:12).”

Prologue, 21

“If we wish to dwell in the tent of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds.”

Prologue, 22

“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”

Prologue, 41

“Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.”

Prologue, 45

“The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.”

Prologue, 47

“The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger.”

Chapter 3, 3

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.”

Chapter 4, 20-21

“Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love.” –Chapter 4, 25-26

“Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue.”

Chapter 4, 27-28

“Place your hope in God alone.”

Chapter 4, 41

“Respect the elders and love the young.”

Chapter 4, 70-71

“Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ. “

Chapter 4, 72

“If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.”

Chapter 4, 73

“The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.”

Chapter 5, 1-2

“Speaking and teaching are the master’s task; the disciple is to be silent and listen.”

Chapter 6, 6

“The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (PS 35[36]:2) and never forgets it.”

Chapter 7, 10

“Let us consider, then, how we ought to behave in the presence of God and his angels, and let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.”

Chapter 19, 6-7

“On arising for the Work of God, they will quietly encourage each other, for the sleepy like to make excuses.”

Chapter 22, 8

“Every age and level of understanding should receive appropriate treatment.”

Chapter 30, 1

“Above all, let him be humble. If goods are not available to meet a request, he will offer a kind word in reply, for it is written: A kind word is better than the best gift (Sir 18:17).”

Chapter 31, 13-14

“Let all the rest serve one another in love.”

Chapter 35, 6

“Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.”

Chapter 43, 3

“Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading.”

Chapter 48, 1

“The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.”

Chapter 49, 1

“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35).”

Chapter 53, 1

“Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims.”

Chapter 53, 2

“(B)ecause wherever we may be, we are in the service of the same Lord and doing battle for the same King.”

Chapter 61, 10

They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10).”

Chapter 63, 17

“We wish this rule to be read often in the community, so that none of the brothers can offer the excuse of ignorance.”

Chapter 66, 8

“Trusting in God’s help, he must in love obey.”

Chapter 68, 5

Never to do another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16).”

Chapter 70, 7

“No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.”

Chapter 72, 7

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”

Chapter 72, 11-12

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life?”

Chapter 73, 3

“What book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator?”

Chapter 73, 4


Saint Louis Abbey

Saint Louis Priory School

500 South Mason Road
St. Louis, MO 63141
P. 314.434.3690    F.314.576.7088
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