Santiago Trade School operates on a revolving cohort system – each semester we accept 15 new students that join the ranks of our two year program. The work of developing the hearts, minds, and trade skills of young men moves from an initial orientation at Santiago Retreat Center, through months of growth in work ethic, jobsite knowledge, spiritual wisdom, and manly friendship, to the culmination of leading work projects and gaining precise knowledge in one main trade. The student-to-teacher ratio is to be below 5:1, giving our students an up-close and personal experience.
Friendship is a key pillar of our program at Santiago, where men are formed alongside one another & for the sake of building each other up. Our community at Santiago Trade School is formed on the model of Christ’s body, where the common good is desired, individual talents are put to use, and mutual support is given for the sake of accomplishing a common goal.
STS guides its men in the path of wisdom. As a man’s soul lives both on this earth and in the heavenly places (Colossians 3), Santiago forms trade students in both the practical wisdom that produces earthly results, and the spiritual wisdom that draws men to God. The psalmist writes that Christ would lift up his head after drinking from the stream (Psalm 110), and so Santiago men are equipped to stoop down to the stream of daily labor and hard work, as well as to be lifted up unto their Father who dwells in Heaven.
First of all, students at Santiago will learn the trade skills necessary to build their own home someday… literally. Daily work projects involve building the Santiago Retreat Center itself – students are to help serve the mission of the retreat center by constructing housing structures that will more than double its current capacity. Thus, from pouring concrete foundations to wood framing to electrical work to every other trade necessary to build housing, our men will gain invaluable practical experience.
Santiago Trade School uses not only the wing of practical experience, but also flies with the swift wing of spiritual wisdom. Students will enjoy a low student/faculty ratio of less than 5:1. Students enter a two-year formation program that gives life & light to the manly soul, developing men who seek first the kingdom of God, and only then look to earthly riches and the joys of this life. Santiago men will engage in daily prayer as well as bi-weekly formation courses. The Holy Mass is to be the center of each day, and the point of stability on which all else hinges.
The formation program is intellectually challenging, though fit for the busy life of learning the trades. Students will study classic works of philosophy and theology, like GK Chesterton’s Everlasting Man and St. Teresa’s Interior Castle, while forming virtuous habits that are sure to bear much fruit. To pray and to work, ora et labora, is something of a summation of the Christian life, and yet that pair cannot be complete without the further foundation of study.
Mission: Built upon the solid foundations of work, study & friendship, Santiago Trade School forms young men into excellent Christian tradesmen. We are a community committed to the tough work of gaining practical jobsite wisdom as well as the spiritual wisdom that unites men to Christ.
The Life of a Tradesman
Some are called journeymen or foremen or even supers. Some swing the hammer, others lay pipe. None of them are wasting their time, and each loves his hot lunch! But what is a tradesman, really? He is a skilled man who accomplishes a definite and particular work. He lays his hands to some task that shares in a greater work than his own contribution. His finished product speaks of his skill, and the tough work leading to that product is his challenge. Most of all, the tradesman participates in God’s sustaining work that provides for the fruitful life of man and society.
THE FEATURED TRADES
Interior / Exterior
Heating / Air Conditioning
Lath & Plaster
Roofing / Sheet Metal
Father Glenn Baaten | Dean of Philosophy / Chaplain
Fr. Glenn is a Roman Catholic priest in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, or “The Anglican Ordinariate”. As an Ordinariate priest, he is a former Anglican priest who has come into full communion with the Catholic Church. Married to his dear wife of 37 years, Cathy, he is the grateful father of two adult children, Christine and Adam, and is the blessed grandfather of three.
Fr. Glenn is also the Chaplain at Santiago Retreat Center where he celebrates daily Mass and offers the sacraments. He leads the Trade Students as well as staff and retreatants in faith formation. His work spans beyond the typical chaplain and gets his hands dirty with various construction project on the campus. He also serves as the Parochial Administrator at St. John Henry Newman in Irvine CA.
Mark Padilla | Executive Director
Mark Edward Padilla is a husband and a father of 5 children. He has worked for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in many capacities since 1985. He began as a coach in Catholic Youth Organization, and has been a Confirmation Catechist, an RCIA Instructor, and an Elementary School Teacher at St. Anthony in San Gabriel and St. Joseph in La Puente, California. Prior to 2014 he had served as an adult leader for the Boy Scouts of America as a Den Leader, Cubmaster and a Troop Leader. Mark also served as a delegate from the San Gabriel Pastoral Region for the 2003 Synod, was on the Region's initial Pastoral Council, and was the Chairperson for the Evangelization and the "New Evangelization" Standing Committee. The Knights of Columbus has been a major focus in Mark's life, and he has also worked significantly with the Guadalupe Pregnancy Services, the Arcángel Film Festival, the Newman Club of Los Angeles, and Follow Our Lady LLC. He became a full time member of the Santiago Retreat Center Staff in June of 2022 as an Executive High School Retreat Manager.
Russ Polhemus | Residential Life Prefect
Russ Polhemus hails from Point Pleasant, NJ, attended High School in Southeast Florida and college at Florida State University in Tallahassee. He learned the Catholic Christian faith from his mother and grandparents, as well as carpentry, trade skills and athletics from his dad and grandfather. While in college, he encountered Jesus more radically through the Catholic Student Union community on campus and the Brotherhood of Hope, especially through retreats focused on the Eucharist, Life in the Spirit seminars and Charismatic Renewal events.
He has studied Theology at Seton Hall University and with the Brotherhood, and has worked in many fields from Pro-Life and Political Campaigns, Campus Ministry, TV Media, Sales and various jobs in Construction/Remodeling trades.
His hope is that the students coming to the Santiago Trade School will experience a new outpouring of grace, community and challenges to overcome, just as he encountered the first time he came to Santiago Retreat Center in 2015.
Verso L' Alto - to the Heights!
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another".
Jack Heemskerk | Farm Management Tutor
Born and raised in Whittier California by parents who immigrated from Holland in 1957. Attended grade school at Saint Bruno and high school at Saint Paul in Santa Fe Springs. Lived over 20 years with a Catholic lay community in rural Ohio learning the faith and developing a deeper prayer life. Self taught in networking and computer technology. Passionate about sharing the gospel and the Father's personal love.
Blessed be back in Southern California and a member of the Santiago Retreat Center team. Helping with the technical aspects of the retreat center as well as establishing a working farm based on regenerative farming techniques.
Located on 800 beautiful acres in the foothills of Orange County
Our goal at Santiago is not to amass earthly riches, though our graduates will do that, nor is it to have fraternal fun, even as we will enjoy that. Santiago Trade School has the unique mission of building upon the foundations of work, study, and friendship to produce excellent Christian tradesmen. An excellent tradesman is marked by his experience at work, his wisdom in problem solving on the job, and his daily diligence to produce good works for Christ. Santiago men understand that Christian work is a sacrificial offering to Our Lord, and that only work well done is worth offering to Him.
The foundations of work, study, and friendship
A Unique Faith Community
Santiago men will engage in daily prayer as well as bi-weekly formation courses. The Holy Mass is to be the center of each day, and the point of stability on which all else hinges. The formation program is intellectually challenging, though fit for the busy life of learning the trades. Students will study classic works of philosophy and theology, like GK Chesterton’s Everlasting Man and St. Teresa’s Interior Castle, while forming virtuous habits that are sure to bear much fruit. To work & to pray, ora et labora, is something of a summation of the Christian life, and yet that pair cannot be complete without the further foundation of study.
Would you consider being a school benefactor?
As we move forward, we ask you to join us on our stewardship journey. It will be a timeless pilgrimage, but one with critical benchmarks. We named this philanthropic endeavour “The Camino Ambassadors” with the hope that you will take an active role by visiting us and learning how your participation in this new trade school will make a major impact on young men develop skills while growing closer to Jesus. Please visit us soon and pray for our work.