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Character of an SPCHS Graduate

Immaculate heart of Mary

St. Petersburg Catholic Virtues

At St. Petersburg Catholic High School we form our students academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. What sets us apart from other secular schools is that we strive to form our students in virtue, so they become authentic witnesses of the Gospel and the Church. Below you will find the core virtues we strive to instill in each one of our graduates. As a school, we look to the inner life of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to serve as the model of Christian character we should strive to achieve. 

“Christ’s gift of Salvation offers us the grace necessary to persevere in the pursuit of virtues. 
Everyone should always ask for this grace of light and strength, frequent the Sacraments, 
cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and follow His calls to love what is good and shun evil.”


Authenticity is traditionally understood as acting in such a way that expresses who one really is. Thus, an authentic Catholic is one whose actions genuinely reflect the Gospel and affirm their value and dignity as a person made in the image of God, the Imago Dei. 


How does the Immaculate Heart of Mary inform Baron authenticity?

The flames of the Immaculate Heart represent Mary’s burning, all consuming love for her Son. This exemplifies what we mean as Catholics when we use the word authenticity. We are who we really are in Christ. We come alive and live to the fullness of our created being when we come to know Jesus Christ and pursue a relationship with Him. True authenticity is knowing and understanding that we are not the ruler of our own universe, but live according to a law, the natural law, that guides and informs our moral choices and our ability to flourish as a human being made in the Imago Dei.

*Significance of Authenticity: St. Jude, Patron Saint of the Diocese of St. Petersburg


Compassion literally means to suffer with another. We strive to form students who have the emotional capacity to see and feel the pain of those in their community--to orient their hearts towards the marginalized and the afflicted. In a world where it is increasingly easy to grow indifferent to the pain and suffering of others, we profess that compassion is a necessary bridge to solidarity and healthy community.


How does the Immaculate Heart of Mary inform Baron compassion?

The sword of the Immaculate Heart represents how joined Mary was to the suffering of Christ. As Mary presented Jesus at the Temple, the prophet Simeon had a vision, telling her that a sword would "pierce her heart also." This foreshadowed Christ, being pierced with a sword on the cross. Mary would likewise take on that suffering as his Mother. Being that compassion literally means “to suffer with another,” Mary serves as a model of compassion.

*Significance of Compassion: St. John Bosco, Salesians of St. John Bosco Administered SPC from 1998-2017


Fortitude is a moral virtue. Fortitude comes from the latin “fortis,” meaning strong. It is often translated into courage, which comes from the Latin agere, “to act,” and cor, “heart.” To have courage means to act with heart, with spirit. To have fortitude or courage means to do what is right in the face of fear and adversity. One way fortitude manifests itself in our St. Petersburg Catholic community is in our motto, “fortes in unitate,” which means “strength in unity.” We believe that together we garner the moral strength to act justly, even though we may struggle to do so alone. 


How does the Immaculate Heart of Mary inform Baron fortitude?

Mary accompanied Jesus all the way to the foot of the cross. Gritting and bearing as she watched him be accused as a blasphemer, as a sinner, as someone who was fundamentally misunderstood. Nonetheless, she walked with him the whole way. She didn’t impede his call--to die for the sins of the world.

*Significance of Fortitude: School Motto “Fortes in Unitate”


Humility is regarded as the wellspring of all Christian virtue. Those who are humble see themselves clearly--the limits to their understanding, their strength, their ability. They recognize they are fallen and in need of God’s grace. They do not attribute their success to their own individual efforts. Instead, they recognize that every success results from a cooperative effort: God’s grace, personal initiative, and communal support. 


How does the Immaculate Heart of Mary inform Baron humility?

The roses of the Immaculate Heart represent Mary’s virginity and chastity. As she received word from the angel Gabriel that she would bear a son, she accepted God’s will as a virgin. Knowing that she would suffer humiliation and ridicule in her community, being perceived as an adulteress. Mary did not respond in fear. She accepted God’s plan for her, though the path would be hard. Her words, “I am the handmaiden of the Lord, let it be done to me according to His will” are the pinnacle and perfection of humility.

*Significance of Humility: St. Francis, Franciscan Sisters of Allegany Established St. Paul’s High School in 1930 & Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular of Penance Administered SPC from 1987-1994


Wisdom or sophia is an intellectual virtue. To be wise means to be intellectually apt and includes the ability to retain, apply, and integrate conceptual knowledge. Wisdom does not entail mere memorization, but indicates that one has a deep understanding of principles--mathematical, scientific, philosophical, theological, historical, literary--and a readiness to apply such principles in everyday life. Moreover, the truly wise enjoys learning for the sake of itself, not simply as a means to some other end (money, power, prestige, etc.). 


How does the Immaculate Heart of Mary inform Baron wisdom?

The whole of Mary’s immaculate heart is a testament to her wisdom, one rooted in heeding the counsel of the Holy Spirit. We see this come alive in the story of the Wedding at Cana. As the  wedding was running out of wine, Mary urges Jesus to perform a miracle. She knew that this would initiate his passion and path to the cross, exposing him as the Messiah. In her wisdom (granted by the Holy Spirit), she prompted him forward. In spite of his hesitation, a truly human moment for Christ, she looks at the servants and says to them, “Do whatever he tells you.” Jesus did end up performing his first miracle at that wedding.

*Significance of Wisdom: School Sisters of Notre Dame. School Sisters of Notre Dame Established Notre Dame Academy in 1962