20 January 2011

Gateway: A Response to Saint Louis Catholic Blog

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!


Anonymous said...

Having been a 'Gateway family' for 3 years, I wanted to add that the tuition costs were a little high, esp. for large families. We left GA because of the price of the education. If the price were right, we'd be back there in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is absolutely true that the families who founded Gateway did so because there was a lack of solid Catholic education in the St Louis area. (Can you imagine? In St Louis? All of those "Catholic schools"...) However, it was my understanding, during my short involvement with Gateway that a number of the founding families were involved in Regnum Christi and wanted Gateway TO BE a Legionary school. However, Archbishop May was no friend of the Legion and correct me if I am wrong, but weren't they forbidden from functioning within the Archdiocese of St Louis under Archbishop May? Yet, they persisted with vocation recruiting and quiet spiritual direction for Regnum Christi members/families, including a number of Gateway families.

There was a long wait between Archbishop May retiring and Archbishop Rigali's instillation and so, Gateway treaded very lightly until Rigali was settled in to get the permissions they needed. Meanwhile, at the school, several Regnum Christi girls were stationed there every year working as assistants in the office and doing programs with the school's girls and LC priests were coming regularly for evenings of reflection, masses, spiritual advising and no doubt a heavy amount of recruiting both to their apostolic school and Regnum Christi. I remember people telling me not to mention to anyone outside the Gateway community that there was any LC/RC involvement at Gateway. Everyone seemed very nervous about all of that.

All of that said...can you blame the parents? Did anyone know then what we know today? Back in the 1990s orthodox Catholics were told and believed that the Legionaries were the best of the best, the Holy Father's favorites, THE future of the Church.

While I don't discount that Gateway founders wanted the best Catholic education available, my understanding is that the intention was always to gat the school associated with the Legionaries and that the school would be, at least unofficially, a Legionary school.

Note: I don't bring these points out to place blame with the Gateway families, I emphasize this was 'my understanding' and I bring these points up and assume you will fact check and get all sides of the story.

Anonymous said...

It is perfectly honorable for a religious community of any kind to try to influence as many people as possible, including institutions, with its influence. If an Ordinary/Bishop is not especially friendly (or even downright unfriendly) toward a specific community, he has the right to exclude them from his (arch)diocese. Usually, such exclusion means that he will not allow them to have a formal house or apostolate in his diocese. This sort of things happens often, and people should know that it happens simply becaiuse a bishop has an "attitude" against a group for personal reasons as much as it happens for sound reasons. This kind of exclusion, however, rarely means that individual members of the community in question are forbidden to do anything at all in the diocese. For example, if Archbishop May refused to welcome the Legion into his archdiocese (I don't know that myself) that wouldn't have meant that any Legionnaire priest was forbidden to give retreats, conduct spiritual direction, give talks, etc., within the archdiocese. Nor would it have meant that the Legion should have refrained from recruiting lay associates or seminarians from within archdiocesan borders. Accordngly, since the Legionnaire priests (with some others as well) could indeed have been correctly charatcterized as "the best of the best; the Holy Father's favorites," the unknown and hidden sins of their Founder notwithstanding, any early alignment between the Legion and gateway Academy only points to the sacrifice and right thinking of that first generation of Gateway Academy parents.

Anonymous said...

His comments are silent about the Regnum Christi connection which was as much a problem out there as anything. That group (RC) refused to discredit LOC founder Maciel in spite of tremendous evidence of wrongdoing. Poor judgment hitching their wagon to such a scoundrel and worse failing to cut ties once he was uncovered.

Anonymous said...

I find the whole, "I am more Catholic than you" aspect of this disturbing. In local Catholic schools, I find an attitude of superiority as well. I homeschool for many reasons and none of them is because I think it is better than the alternatives. I think that no matter what school your child attends, it is your job as a parent to form their faith and look for good examples in the community. The children reflect the parents. Children whose parents feel they are better Catholics because they attend TLM, will show that attitude to others. Please watch how you express your preferences for practices of the faith. Your children are watching and copying you.

thetimman said...

Anonymous, I think the tendency to think one is a better Catholic because he attends the TLM is just as odious as the tendency to think one is a better Catholic because he attends the novus ordo.

This isn't a one-sided phenomenon.

I can't speak for anyone else but myself, but I don't think I'm a better Catholic than anybody else, and certainly not because I assist at the TLM. I do think the TLM is better--objectively better--than the N.O. But I did nothing to cause this, nor does the difference depend on me attending it. In fact, due to the superiority of the TLM, I think Catholics who assist at it ought to be aware that, as scripture says, he to whom much has been given, much is expected.

Before anybody reacts to the above, let me say I realize that in substance, each form of the Mass is exactly the same. Each is the re-presentation of Calvary. Each is the eternal oblation, in each Christ is sacrificed, is present, and is given to us. I get it. But as for the "accidents" of the Mass forms, the TLM is more beautiful, more transcendent, more reverent, and more theologically clear. In other words, scoff if you will, but I submit that it is not a mere matter of personal taste.

If you don't agree, great. But don't confuse one's opinion about the relative merits of the forms of the Mass one attends with a mistaken opinion that that person thinks he is somehow better for thinking so.

My two cents, but then, it's my blog. :-)

Anonymous said...

". . . but I submit that it is not a mere matter of personal taste."

See, comments like these are why posters make comments like the one that you were addressing. Is the Novus Ordo Mass a lesser Mass theologically? Is the Body and the Blood less imminent, or real, at a Novus Ordo Mass than at a TLM? Timman, you set up a straw man with your response. The TLM is no more Catholic than the Novus Ordo Mass, at least not according to the magesterium of the one True Church to which we all belong.

Each Mass is equally valid. The Body and the Blood are Christ at each Mass. I think that you and the posters here in the combox come very close to crossing a very dangerous line when mocking those who participate in or attend perfectly valid Novus Ordo Masses (and for the sake of clarity, I am not saying that you have done that in this post, or in its combox - we are off-topic here). It is one thing to advocate for change. It is wholly another to tear down that which the Church has declared to be Holy in order to advocate for change.

Another (Different) Anon

thetimman said...

I posted a response, but canned it. Let me just say that a careful reading of my last comment doesn't lead to the concerns you raise, different anon. God bless.

Patrick Kinsale said...

I submit that while each form of the Mass in the Roman Rite bring about the Body and Blood of Christ, it does mean they are equal. The ordinary form, celebrated correctly, can be beautiful. Problem is, it often falls victim to the priest's personality. And this occurs much more with the ordinary form because of something intrinsic to it ... a plethora of options and weak language that allows priests to ad lib.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:51 - please reread Timman's post. He already answered your questions: "Is the Novus Ordo Mass a lesser Mass theologically? Is the Body and the Blood less imminent, or real, at a Novus Ordo Mass than at a TLM?" No, he says, "I realize that in substance, each form of the Mass is exactly the same. Each is the re-presentation of Calvary. Each is the eternal oblation, in each Christ is sacrificed, is present, and is given to us." Doesn't look like Timman is mocking anyone here. Sed contra.

Pope Benedict himself has criticized aspects of the Novus Ordo Mass. Is he, in your opinion, also "tear[ing] down that which the Church has declared to be Holy"?

Anonymous said...

The problem with this is that the school is going to remain connected to the Legion. In the Post it said that the Legionaries would be coming in twice a month to give "spiritual guidance" and the school would continue to utilize the Legion's methodology.

The school may have had a chance if they would have seperated from the Legion completely.

This letter credits the Legion and GA with many things but conveniently left out the negative impact that the Legion and Regnum Christi have had on individuals and families. Again, that approach remains true to the spirit of the Legionaries of Christ. They are masters at filtering information for their membership and anyone that will lend an ear.

Gateways continued association with the Legionaries of Christ is it's certain demise.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last post. If the school continues to be affiliated with the Legion, the Legion will continue to use the school to their own ends...and the end for the Legion is to poach vocation/money to their troubled, dysfunctional congregation. Even in the glory days of the Legion, the congregation considered each apostolate a success based on how many clubs, vocations, co-workers, and money could be gained from it. (People who are integrated members of RC would know these things because it is a part of the whole methodology.) The school is one of their apostolates; the school's success was and continues to be based on how many vocations/money are poached from it. If the school educates through that process, that's just the icing on the cake, but that was never the main aim for any Legionary school (not just Gway).

As the previous post stated, as long as the Legion is involved, parents should be wary. The Legionaries regularly deny the damaging effects of their methodology on young people. They are spin doctors which cast everything in a positive light all under a false understanding of charity and unity.

Anonymous said...

According to papers on file with the Missouri Secretary of State, Gateway Academy, Incorporated, was certified on December 2, 1991. Linda Bromeier resigned in 1993, and Fr. Anthony Bannon became a Board Member in 1994.

Why did the founding families pick the secular name, "Gateway Academy"? That name doesn't fit with the type of school that the founders envisioned. Why do the other Legionary schools have secular names such as, "The Highlands," "Pinecrest," and "Canyon Heights Academy"?

Anonymous said...

As a GA parent for six years with kids in lower and upper school and a former member of Regnum Christi, I believe your original post and your assessment of the Legion of Christ is very accurate.

The rebuttal contained several inaccuracies as well as omissions of critical problems at GA.

But I am tired of those who foster the hate for different reasons, to please move on with your lives and stop trying to make decisions for all of the rest of us.

IME, the above comment on your original post which calls critics of GA 'hateful,' showcases the Legion/RC mentality when confronted with serious concerns.

Rather than humbly address any concerns, they brand you hateful and even an enemy of the Church. On the contrary, pointing out areas of concern, whether at a Catholic school or with a Catholic newspaper or organization is our duty as Catholics. Surely Abp Burke was not being 'hateful' when he spoke out against prochoice speakers being featured at Catholic events?

For my part, I apologize for my participate in Regnum Christi. By supporting this group, I am complicit in the wrongdoings of Marcial Maciel and the Legion of Christ. I am very sorry for any hurt that my actions may have caused.

Anonymous said...

The premise that there is a dearth of Catholic education to be found in St. Louis is a false one. We have one of the highest concentrations of Catholics per capita, and a rich, long tradition of Catholic schools. As such, there is a huge variety here, and of course some will be more orthodox, by your standards, than others. There is also a long tradition of orders establishing roots here and evangelizing. You can see their stories on the ceiling of the Cathedral Basilica. The Legion will never be able to join that pantheon. Theirs is a legacy of abuse and deception.

To say that Gateway is the only place to find serious Catholics concerned about their children's educational environment is disingenuous at best, and dishonest at worst. Part of the attraction and justification for sending kids to Gateway is the claim that parish schools are inadequate, Catholic high schools are even worse, and neither foster devotion or support in faith. I imagine that Archbishop Carlson would take offense with this claim. He has made the support and promotion of Catholic education a priority, precisely because there is such a rich variety here.

Most of those who claim that Gateway is an oasis in a desert of lukewarm Catholics have not bothered to investigate their own parish schools, or their local Catholic highschool, legacy or not. They simply believe the talk at Gateway, which has the result of instilling fear and predjudice. This is designed by Legion methodology to keep your money and your children at Gateway. Remember, the order was founded by a "false prophet" -- the Holy Father's words, not mine.

My experience has been that the parish school, after years at Gateway, is a better environment in every respect. The administration is more responsive and sympathetic to concerns, the education more rigorous, and the families are friendly and accepting, even to large families. It is certainly a better value, and it's nice to see those same school families, now friends, at Mass on Sunday.

Sequestering your children at Gateway in order to safeguard their faith will ultimately have the opposite effect, fostering a sense of superiority over, and fear of, fellow Catholics. Hitching your wagon to that disgraced and destructive order is asking for a crisis of faith and certain failure. Passing judgement on "lesser" forms of Catholic education is divisive and unproductive. I'm sure the Archbishop would love to have your perspective and help in his endeavor. The persistent slights offered by Gateway families on the archdiocesan school system is easy to offer from afar, but substantive criticism and suggestions might be the more helpful and yes, difficult, thing to do. The parish is set up by the Church to be our family in faith, where we encounter the sacraments and find, and in many cases be, the support in faith. I humbly suggest to the current Gateway families that they leave, go and be salt and light in your parish. I have found that it has been the best decision we ever made as parents.