21 February 2011

Gateway Academy to Affliliate with Benedictines

In the wake of the announced departure (mostly) of the Legionaries of Christ from the operation of Gateway Academy, that school has been, to say the least, in a state of flux. However, there seems to be good news at present, though the situation is not finally settled. The Benedictines of the St. Louis Abbey have tentatively agreed to oversee the school, and have asked permission of Archbishop Carlson to do so.

The Benedictines already run Priory school. What is not clear yet is the exact nature of their supervision and control, nor is it clear whether all involvement by the Legionaries will cease.

His Grace is quoted in the article as noting: "The question that still needs to be determined is 'Who owns the school?'" A good question, indeed. So, while this certainly seems to be a very positive development, prayers and discernment are needed.

the full article:

As Legionaries leave, Gateway school to affiliate with Benedictine order

by Tim Townsend

The board of directors of a Chesterfield school run by a troubled Catholic order has reached a tentative deal with a different order in an effort to remain open and affiliated with the Roman Catholic church.

In a letter to parents obtained by the Post-Dispatch, the new lay board of Gateway Academy said that as the school's founding order — the Legionaries of Christ — prepared to leave the St. Louis area, the Benedictine monks of St. Louis Abbey had agreed to step in to oversee the school. The Abbey operates St. Louis Priory, a Catholic school for boys in grades 7 to 12 in Creve Coeur.


In the letter dated Friday, the board members said the final documents had not been approved by Carlson, who is recuperating from knee surgery and under doctor's orders to refrain from work until March 4.

Gateway board member Steve Notestine said because the board was under pressure to have parents commit by Friday to sending their children to Gateway next school year, it sent the letter out before the deal was finalized and without the knowledge of the archdiocese or St. Louis Abbey.

"Because we have had an offer of affiliation with a Catholic religious order, things have changed dramatically for the better, and we thought it was appropriate to send parents a confidential update for their consideration," Notestine said. "Our first requirement is to our parents."


The board's letter told parents that the school needed at least 105 students to operate next academic year.


Carlson said the Benedictines had asked his permission to affiliate with the school.
"Since there is excellent cooperation between the Abbey and the Archdiocese of St. Louis, we obviously would have not problem with the Benedictines being involved with Gateway Academy," Carlson said in a statement to the Post-Dispatch.

The archbishop also said a religious community, the archdiocese or an "Association of the Lay Faithful" has to own a school for it to be recognized as Catholic.

"The question that still needs to be determined is 'Who owns the school?'" Carlson said.

Jim Fair, a spokesman for the Legion said ownership discussions "are still underway."

The school building and property is currently owned by the Gateway Educational Foundation, which is controlled by the Legion.

When the Legion announced its departure in January, school officials said representatives from the order would return "on a semi-monthly basis" to offer spiritual guidance.

In the board's letter Friday, it said that as soon as the school's affiliation with the Benedictines was official "the new board will release the Legion from its offer to visit the school on a regular basis next year."

It also said a Benedictine monk will join the new board.


A source familiar with the deal, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations were ongoing, said ownership of Gateway will stay with the Legion, which will lease the building to the school.

Similarly, the Legion's specialized curriculum will remain in place, as will school leaders, some of whom are affiliated with Regnum Christi.


StGuyFawkes said...

For reasons of public relations and to avoid some future canon law squabble leaking its way into the civil courts there needs to be a clean break. My prayers are that the Legion simply sells the property to the Dominicans and allows a Dominican charism, or ethos to pervade the institution.

Otherwise it's all just too messy.

Just my opinion. The area could do well with a co-ed sibling school to Priory. Barat Academy is impressive for it's coed ethos which allows students to socialize around extra-curriculars while they school exclusively with members of their own sex.

And is it too much to hope you might get the TLM over at Gateway if the Dominicans take over.

Anonymous said...

St. Guy - they're Benedictines, not Dominicans (shudder).

pfinley said...

Why the Dominicans? The Ampleforth Monks are well established as educators in this area, and more importantly, many of the members of that school are members at St Anselms .. The match seems perfect to me?

I have no doubt OP's definately have a charism to teach, but I disagree that they are the more appropriate option in this case, respectfully of course

Anonymous said...

I think the mention of Dominicans in this story was just a mistake. This story has to do only with the Benedictines from St. Louis Abbey and their offer to administer Gateway. But Anon at 13:10, you've got me curious; please answer. What would make you shudder about the idea of the Dominicans taking over Gateway?

Anonymous said...

I, too, am curious and would like to hear what Anon at 13:10 has in mind with his/her "shudder" about the idea of Dominican involvement at Gateway. Come on, I really want to know; I'm not baiting you or anything.

I pretty much hate a lot of the kind of stuff they always seem to be doing at Aquinas Institute, but their Fenwick Dominican Academy in Chicago (River Forest) has been one of the best boys' high schools in the country for almost a century.

Anonymous said...

So what's the scoop? In between you folks waging pride wars about your favorite Orders (olive branch: when speaking about the Benedictines and the Dominicans, we speaking about two of the most ancient and impressive orders the Church has ever known), my question remains unanswered: who's going to take care of Gateway? Any conclusions reached yet?

Anonymous said...

Yay! Go Fenwick Friars! BTW, Fenwick High School has gone co-ed in recent years and is in Oak Park, not River Forest, and probably continues to be the finest Catholic high school in the Chicago area. That should count for something to St. Louisans, where "where you went to high school" counts for as much as it does! I'd like to hear about it if the River Forest Dominicans are planning to take over gateway Academy. Whether it's the Dominicans or Benedictines, as long as it's one or the other, Gateway would be an awesome school.