The Lyceum at St. Mary's Ryken

The Lyceum - A Mission Statement 

In the suburbs of Athens, in a somewhat inconspicuous and shaded area, the Lyceum stood. This building housed a variety of activities: gymnastics and athletic training, military exercises, philosophical debate, political assembly, and cult practices. Then Aristotle started a school there. While this school engaged students in all subjects, it did so under the auspices of truth. For Aristotle, this search for the truth encompassed all fields of human endeavor. It found expression in the library that was also present at the Lyceum and even in the multipurpose building itself, which became a fitting structural gesture towards the kind of educational, intellectual, cultural, and spiritual vision Aristotle inculcated. This vision, nurtured in the Athenian suburbs, would lay the intellectual foundation for a coherent vision of the world that we call “Western thought” in recognition of its temporal, cultural, linguistic, and spiritual diversity of elements.

The Lyceum is modeled on this approach. St. Mary’s Ryken has long been a school and presence within the Southern Maryland community. Like Aristotle’s own vision, the Lyceum aims to deepen these educational, cultural, and communal ties through a constant search for the truth. Beyond Aristotle, ours is a decidedly Catholic vision in which Catholicity, or universality engages all ideas, questions, and perspectives in order to sift them through a cultivated lens of faith and reason. By wading into these intellectual, cultural, and spiritual waters, the Lyceum works to form our local community and its guests to be bearers and guardians of a renewed Western vision whose patrimony gave root to Christendom in Europe before spreading to all corners of the globe. 

Our Winter Course: Being Human

Course Description: Each of us has some deep experience with being human, but what does that actually mean? Could you explain what distinguishes us from other animals? What if you had to give an account of what a human being is, or what a human being does, could you? This course will be a modest attempt to provide some answers to these questions. These answers may not be definitive, but they will delineate a particular shape for what being human is. In focusing on the ways meaning informs all aspects of being human, we will point towards a more fully human life as the key to outrageous happiness and fulfillment.

Instructors: Dr. Aaron Percich (West Virginia University, Ph.D.) and John Olon (St. John’s College, M.A.)

Location: St. Mary's Ryken, Rupert Hall 220

Dates/Time: 7 - 9 p.m. Wednesdays, January 25 - March 22 (there will be no class on Ash Wednesday, February 22). 

Cost: $95 (includes all texts and reading materials) 

For questions or more information please contact John Olon at


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