In the interest of fairness, I wanted to post this very thoughtful letter from a person for whom I have the utmost respect concerning the recent Gateway Academy news, my post about it, and the STLToday article on the same from earlier this week. He has given me permission to use his name, which in discretion I hestitate to do. In fact, the only reason I waffle at all from my normal policy of protecting the identity of those who write is that his reputation as a Catholic, and a gentleman, is so widely-known that it deserves to lend even more credibility to this letter. When I hear back from him on this issue, I may change my mind.
It is absolutely true that I did not know much of the antecedent history of the formation of Gateway Academy prior to the later involvement of the Legionaries of Christ. And it is true that there is a glaring need for authentically Catholic schools in the area. So, I join with the letter writer in praying for the success of the efforts of the many Catholic families involved here.
Please read this letter.
I am somewhat saddened by your post: in part, because you included the error-ridden article by Mr. Townsend, but also because of your confusion....no, lack of distinction, between [Gateway Academy] GA and the [Legionaries of Christ] LOC.
Yes, many of the problems are the result of actions of a now-deceased priest; although I cannot judge him, I simply pray for his soul in Christian charity at this time. Reeling from these concerns and with the current global financial recession, the remaining (business arm of the) LOC has conceded that it must retreat.
Gateway was started by and was comprised of a group of families longing for what did not exist in StL long before the LOC was ever involved (Townsend is incorrect). In fact, Linda Bromeier, well-known in the homeschooling circles, was one of the key initial players. We started in 1992 as an amalgamation of homeschooling families with diocesan priests coming in to offer Mass and provide the sacraments. Concurrently at St Agatha, Fr. Rodis was very determined to maintain the Traditional Mass, but there was no option in StL for true Catholic education, save homeschooling. Yes, we, too, have been a part of the homeschoolers, but there are many for whom the homeschool structure is not the best option as each family must define its specific needs. You have recently written much about our diocesan schools and haven't even begun to tackle our "Catholic" high schools in your blog.
It was only much later that the Legion was invited to join the school. Yes, while there was much good which came forth from the dedicated men and women who have given their life to a now-troubled order, the local individuals themselves who have been at GA have been exemplary in their faith. No, they have not offered TLM, but the Mass which they have offered is one that is reverent and holy and, though not in the Traditions which you and I seek, is one that has drawn many in St Louis closer to our God. Moreover, there have been numerous graduates who have pursued religious vocations since leaving GA. ...and I do not necessarily mean LOC vocations; there is one current diocesan priest, five current seminarians, and at least four women who have pursued religious vocations after matriculating at GA.
What remains on Wild Horse Creek Road are many of that same group of families (and many more), nearly a generation later, still seeking a Catholic education in a community where it is difficult to find the authentic faith in the schools that exist. You know this all too well. We long to allow our children to be with the children of other families who share our faith. We long to allow our children to know and love our Holy Father. Interestingly, most of the families at GA are not members of nor affiliated with the Legion in any way other than Gateway itself. Yet, we have accepted and appreciated that which the LOC has given to us.
At this juncture, we pray for healing for the members of the LOC and we, as the parents of GA, seek a new path at this time. In an overarching way, we pray that we can be the Phoenix to rise from the ashes and to grow to be the model for true Catholic education in St Louis. It is my dream that others will share this vision and that we can stabilize our grade school and even rebuild the high school as well somewhere down the road.
The current traditional homeschooling families can be a part of this at this time. Your support through your well-respected and widely-read blog can assist us, hopefully to be there as a beacon so desperately needed in this blind and legacy-entrenched town. The current situation provides an excellent opportunity for any of the Catholic homeschooling families who need assistance in their role as primary teachers of the Faith. Moreover, there is, and would continue to be, an openness to the Traditions of our Faith as manifest in the Sacred Liturgy of the centuries, particularly as we seek priests from the community once again to assist us with the holy Mass. Truly, there exists on Wild Horse Creek Road a new opportunity for growth as the Legion has, as of the end of this year, turned the control of the school back to our local board. We see this as a tremendous opportunity for the future and embrace the economic challenges inherent with this transition, welcoming any new families, as we begin our ascent from this nadir in our history. We are truly optimistic! Oremus!