2019 National Conference:

Freedom in Christ

July 22-25
The Catholic University of America
Washington, D.C.

Our seventh annual gathering ushered in a significant change. Formerly called the National Catholic Classical Schools Conference, the conference was renamed to The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education National Conference. The change encompasses a broader, universal vision of the renewal of Catholic education.  While “classical” is still a recognized and accepted shorthand term for this renewal, that label alone does not fully capture the Christocentric aim of its recovery in Catholic schools. Our purpose goes well beyond that of the resurgence of classical education in charter schools and private institutions. Whether our schools use the moniker “classical” or “Catholic liberal arts” or “a school in the Catholic intellectual tradition,” the shared intent is to recover the Church’s tradition–distinct from the utilitarian nature of public education. The evidence has become clear. Our schools flourish when “Catholic identity” is not added on, but is instead woven through.

Some background: The Catholic Church took up the tools of the classical tradition (including the seven liberal arts) and its spirit of inquiry in the search for truth, goodness, and beauty. Once that ancient tradition was ordered toward Christ as the Logos, however, it became something more comprehensive. We call it Catholic liberal education (from the Latin liber, which means free), or authentic Catholic education, in order to distinguish it from the secular progressive approach in both content and pedagogy.

Our annual conference offers inspiration, advice, seminars, discussion, prayer, and friendship as we grow in our vocation as Catholic educators, especially in the Eucharist. Our 2019 conference theme, Freedom in Christ, reflected the goal of all Catholic education: holiness.

The 2019 plenary speaker line-up included the following:

Mary Rice Hasson
Kate O’Beirne Fellow, Ethics & Public Policy Center
Director, Catholic Women’s Forum

Fr. Frank Brawner
Pastor, St. Agatha Academy – Winchester, KY
Chaplain, ICLE

Dr. Andrew Seeley
Tutor, Thomas Aquinas College – Santa Paula, CA
Director of Advanced Formation, ICLE

Dr. Gregory Roper
Associate Professor of English, University of Dallas – Dallas, TX

Fr. John Parks
Vicar for Evangelization, Diocese of Phoenix, AZ

We were also pleased to welcome Duncan G. Stroik, renowned religious and classical architect, who offered a breakout presentation on the influence of architecture on education.

“This is my fifth conference and they get better every year! I really like the mix of large group plenaries and smaller breakouts. It’s also enjoyable to be a student again in the seminars.”

“The National Conference is always an amazing, enlightening, joyful experience that keeps me coming back every year.” 

“Intellectually and spiritually, practically and imaginatively, it was a rich banquet for mind, body, and soul. Clearly the leaders care about us as people, as fellow educators in this vocation together, and that is the core of all the good here – that and God’s grace.” 

“I was truly renewed in my awareness of the gift to be a teacher. This conference opened new possibilities for me, new horizons which I’m eager to explore and grow in.” 

“These conferences offer a spiritual renewal that deepens my desire to stay in this vocation. The plenary sessions offer ideas to generate a love for God in our children. I’ve always come away with ideas to use in the instruction of our faith. Wow!”


“This is the only conference that can be considered true professional development for Catholic educators. Nothing else compares.”

“Every time I come, I feel renewed. It gives me the courage that I will need to get . through the year. The reason for this is because I am with hundreds of like-minded people who truly believe that it is their vocation to bring people to Christ through wisdom and virtue.”