Divine Mercy Academy Celebrates First Year In Pasadena


Pasadena's first classical school has grown 120% in one year. And it’s time to celebrate!

“We’re throwing a party on October 30 to celebrate our success and say thank you!” explained Ali Ghaffari, founder of Divine Mercy Academy. “The first annual All Saints Fun Run is designed to raise funds to help us fully achieve our mission of making saints. Funds received will go to enhance the teaching materials in the classroom, to improve compensation for our teachers, and to fund a number of efforts which deepen our students’ relationship with God. Our goal is $100,000.”

Making friends is a legacy of Divine Mercy Academy (DMA). Since its inception in 2018, the school has grown from 18 to 80 students on a shoestring budget.

“We started in a single room in Severna Park with two classes separated by an accordion divider,” added Ghaffari, who lives in Severna Park with his wife and three daughters. “Outgrowing our space, we moved to Pasadena last fall in the empty former convent at St. Jane Frances, which we outgrew in a year. We have now moved into the space where St. Jane Frances Elementary School used to be.”

Classical schools are increasing in popularity across Maryland. More focused on cultivating curiosity and connecting themes than ogling iPads, teachers encourage critical thinking by diving deeply into the most captivating works of western civilization. Steering away from the regurgitation of disjointed facts, this method improves the endurance of each student by having him or her think about complex ideas for an extended period.

“The chronological approach to history is less disorienting for children,” explained Jeff Chandler, a father of two students attending Divine Mercy Academy. “They’re not afraid of memorization, either, which builds the mind. And behavioral standards and politeness are not neglected.”

During the 2020-2021 school year, faith and an assurance of things unseen renewed the community in a time of uncertainty.

“Our teachers’ sense of joy sustained our school,” Ghaffari said. “It was amazing to watch them laugh, sing and inspire our children through what was a trying time for the world. You would have hardly known it here in school. The children were so relaxed and happy.”

Ghaffari’s life story is an inspirational one. Raised by a single mom who got hooked on drugs, the quiet boy had a future that looked bleak. Throwing himself into his books, he achieved the American dream by becoming a Navy fighter pilot and ultimately teaching advanced leadership at the United States Naval Academy. In 2004, he converted to Catholicism.

“By the grace of God, my mother has recovered from her addiction,” he explained. “And despite her troubles, she taught me to pray, which led me on a journey to Christ.”

Connecting students with their spiritual roots in Athens, Jerusalem and Rome has proven successful for Divine Mercy Academy and other classical schools. 

“Plato, Aristotle, and the great books of the western tradition had an enormous impact on my faith journey,” Ghaffari said. “In the end, it came down to the greatest book of all, the Bible. Now we’re passing these treasures on to the next generation through classical education, and they love it.”

Registration for the All Saints 5K Fun Run is $35. Scheduled for 9:00am on October 30, the event will also include a 1K family fun walk/run proceeding simultaneously on the B&A Trail. Contact Adam Farber at 410-212-0029 or arbera@gmail.com to register or inquire about being a sponsor. Runners are encouraged to dress up as their favorite saint.


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