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Salve, Dennis Toscano!

Dennis ToscanoOr, for those of us who don’t know Latin: Welcome, Dennis Toscano!

Dennis is Priory’s new Classical Languages teacher. He will be teaching two 7th grade Latin classes, one 8th, and one 9th. He’ll also be coaching winter soccer.

Hailing originally from Medellín, Colombia, Dennis traveled far and wide before landing in St. Louis.

In High School in Colombia, Latin and Greek were his favorite subjects, and he also enjoyed studying Philosophy. After high school, he moved to the United States to attend Christendom College in Virginia, where he majored in Philosophy and earned his Bachelor of Arts in May of 2010.

His first job was at a small boys’ boarding school in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he taught Latin and Greek, coached soccer and served as a “dorm father.” At the end of his first year, he took a group of boys on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The pilgrims traveled from Lourdes in Southern France to northern Spain on bicycles. “It took a month,” he said. “I don’t know if I could do that again!”

After reaching their destination, the boys (along with other teachers) went back to the United States while he stayed to visit with an old friend. The friend introduced him to prominent Latinist who runs a humanities academy, called the Vivarium Novum, in Rome. The professor offered Dennis a full scholarship to study for a year. “That’s when I really got into Latin,” Dennis said. He studied a full curriculum of the classics and humanities – all in Latin. “We [the students] came from all over the world, so Latin was the common language for both instruction and communication. I spoke nothing but Latin for a year.”

When his time in Rome came to an end, he moved to Texas to teach Latin at a high school in Dallas. He taught Latin and Spanish at the high school for two years, and dreamed of going to the University of Kentucky, which has the only graduate classics program in North America that uses Latin as the primary language of instruction. He had already met the UK Classics professors at an academic conference in Rome. After his second year of teaching, he was accepted into the UK Masters program, and moved to Lexington to study with the same professors who wrote the Latin books Priory students currently use.

Once again, Dennis was fully immersed in Latin. “I spoke Latin for two years in that program, and did all my graduate work in Latin. I wrote my thesis in Latin. I lived in a house with other graduate students and we spoke only Latin.” He did speak English to his then-girlfriend and to the students he taught as part of his funding program, but otherwise, it was all-Latin, all-the-time. “I was deeply immersed in Latin and Classics for those two years,” he said.

Dennis has had quite the summer. He graduated, then married that English-speaking girlfriend, Catherine, in June. They met at the University of Kentucky, where she was a senior studying Economics during Dennis’ first year of graduate school. She had moved to Nashville, three hours away, for work while he finished up grad school. They moved here shortly after the wedding.

Dennis and Catherine are settling into their new life in St. Louis. “I haven’t had a normal life of not being a grad student in a while, but since we’ve been here, we’ve been swimming a lot and getting to know the main sites. We read books together, and watch old shows and movies.” They’ve visited the Arch and the zoo, and the St. Louis Art Museum. They don’t have any pets, but Dennis loves parrots and may wind up hanging out with Father Michael’s birds here on campus. “I grew up with parrots. In South America, they fly around the city. My family just kind of adopted a few through the years.” Dennis has an older sister who lives in Washington, D.C. The rest of his family still lives in Colombia. He gets to visit them every couple of years, and everyone just came to Kentucky for the wedding.

He’s looking forward to this school year, “becoming part of the Priory family, getting to know the kids very well, and sharing my love of Latin and Classics with them.”

“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

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St. Louis, MO 63141
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