Sofia Allen of Halifax has discovered a large group of friends through Catholic Harbor. Photo courtesy Sofia Allen

Homeschoolers’ forum a safe Harbor for faith

By  Sarah Wentzell, Youth Speak News
  • June 24, 2020

The constant challenge of giving today’s youth a Catholic upbringing is being met head on by an online website for Seton Home Study School students called Catholic Harbor (CH). 

Open to Seton students 13 and over, with a separate forum for alumni for this accredited distance Catholic school, CH is in its second year and has covered over 20,000 topics with one million posts. Through different topics and forums, students can discuss literature, current events, politics, Catholicism, hobbies and gain debating experience on a wide variety of issues as well as share photos and art in a gallery. The site is maintained by a group of staff including student moderators, student ambassadors and administrators Draper Warren and Joe Sparks. 

Warren, Director of Admissions and Conferences at Seton, said he believes CH provides students with a means to grow intellectually, deepen their faith and make quality friendships. 

“In the intellectual sphere, I think having so many students engaged in conversations about current affairs, their Catholic faith and debates is an amazingly formative experience. I have witnessed many students mature intellectually and in their ability to maintain calm under the pressure of a debate.

“Socially, I have seen so many strong friendships made, and I think for homeschoolers especially, but also for any student really committed to their Catholic faith, it can be difficult to find many like-minded friends. I think Catholic Harbor fills a vitally important role for many in that area.”

CH ambassador Sofia Allen, 15, of Halifax, says Catholic Harbor has had a significant impact on her life and has offered her a supportive group of friends.

“Catholic Harbor is a place where I can talk to fellow homeschoolers in a safe environment, so it fills my socialization need. Another aspect I am extremely grateful for is, if I have a bad day, I know my best friends are there to be my emotional support team.” 

Student moderator Matthew Hogan, 18, of Salina, Kan., was impressed by how welcoming the site was and soon became an active member. Through CH, he gained debating experience and made strong friendships.

“Catholic Harbor has been huge. I have been on (CH) for nearly two years now, so quite a long time. During that time, I have probably spent well over 1,000 hours online. I have always loved debating, but CH really helped me develop my style and learn how to actually debate in ways that make people listen.”

The inspiration to begin CH came from memories Warren and Sparks had of a Catholic message board in their own school days known as the original Seton board, or Seton BB.

“It was one of the most formative influences in strengthening my faith and learning how to effectively discuss controversial issues,” said Warren. “I met the person who would later become my best friend there and he met his wife there. We created Catholic Harbor in the image of the message board we had as students, hoping that it could offer to the next generation the same benefits we derived.”

Warren said he hopes to see CH continue to develop and spread. 

“I would also hope that as we grow, our alumni will want to stay connected with us and the alumni community on Catholic Harbor will grow to be a professional network for Catholics.”

(Wentzell, 16, is a Grade 11 student in Seton Home Study School in Thunder Bay, Ont.)

Comments (1)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Fr. John Hardon believed that homeschooling was key for the survival of the Catholic Church in America - I would say anywhere. I homeschooled my two children and was able to teach true, authentic Catholic teachings to my children.
There are so...

Fr. John Hardon believed that homeschooling was key for the survival of the Catholic Church in America - I would say anywhere. I homeschooled my two children and was able to teach true, authentic Catholic teachings to my children.
There are so many wonderful Catholic homeschool curriculum programs available.
We used some of Seton's books and it is great to have English/Spelling/Reading Comprehension that provides Catholic history, stories of saints etc... within it's workbooks!
I love that they have this CH program!

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Teresa Buonafede
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