Rorate Caeli

FSSP to Close St. Gregory's Academy

Below is a letter released just yesterday from Fr. Eric Flood, North American District Superior of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), announcing the closure of the 20-year-old St. Gregory's Academy in Elmhurst, Pa. While you can read the official explanation below, Rorate has been given more detail about the Fraternity's reason for walking away from the school after two decades.

According to our sources, when the Academy was started (soon following the founding of the FSSP itself), it was staffed, due to a lack of priests, almost entirely by laymen. In fact, it had only three priests at the school in the beginning. Today, it has only one priest. And, sadly over time, traditional Catholics teaching at the Academy have faced near extinction, with only two currently on the payroll.

For the last several years, the Fraternity has bent over backwards to try and right the ship, and insert more traditional Catholics into the faculty, but to no avail. No longer wanting to fight an uphill battle, they have decided to walk away, keeping the door open to a lay group to take it over. They were close to getting that done last week, but it fell through.

The other problem is that traditional children just weren't being enrolled in high enough numbers. Partly because of the lack of traditional laymen teaching at the school, but mostly because the parents want a true traditional atmosphere for their children, which means a school run mostly by traditional priests -- a uniquely FSSP experience, if you will, much like the SSPX children enjoy.

The good news is -- in addition to the fact that the FSSP was willing to part ways with a school in order to cling to tradition -- is that the Fraternity is looking to start a new American school, possibly in the next year or two. In order to do that, and to do it right, they know they must fill that school with FSSP priests. And with their current numbers, and the growing demand from dioceses for them to start new apostolates, they first need to figure out the priest/teacher question.

Please pray for the increase in their vocations, and that all traditional Catholic children one day will have access to truly Catholic schools, for those who just cannot, for many reasons, school at home.

28 comments:

Kathleen said...

Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist has the same problem of trying to keep up with demand, despite blooming like crazy, but the idea of them working together with the FSSP is intriging. They are a traditional teaching order based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Adfero said...

Kathleen, while there are good fruits stemming from that order, they are not traditional. They'd be right back in the same situation now -- conservatives, not traditionals, teaching.

jasoncpetty said...

So move it to Denton and start over. Lots of trads living around there and lots of priests/major seminarians.

Alan Aversa said...

I am certain there are many traditional Catholic laymen who could've kept this school open had they known there was a demand for traditional Catholic laymen.

What I don't understand is how the SSPX had at least 491 priests and 88 schools in 2009, and the FSSP currently has only 228 priests and 0 schools now, correct? What is that?

Ecclesia Militans said...

Closing this school is actually the FSSP admitting, not in words but in practice, that there is a difference in Faith between the conservatives and the traditionalists.

Otherwise, why would they have a problem with conservatives teaching, if it is all only about the Mass and not the Faith?
Both Rome and the conservatives would be perplexed and ask them this question. The FSSP know this so in their notice they have not given a reason for their departure.

They acknowledge in practice, by their deeds, if you will, what the SSPX also says clearly in words - that the Conciliar religion is not the same as the Catholic religion, and that they must take steps to insure the integrity of the Catholic teaching.

This is one of the reasons why the conservatives do not like, and never will like the FSSP - because, although they do not admit it openly, the FSSP know that their Faith is different than the conservatives'.

The FSSP is always going against the tide in the Conciliar Church because the majority of bishops and laymen share the faith of the conservatives, so they cannot hope to achieve much success. To put it midly, a lot of the time they are merely sabotaging themselves.

Adfero said...

"I am certain there are many traditional Catholic laymen who could've kept this school open had they known there was a demand for traditional Catholic laymen."

Not ones with money.

New Catholic said...

No, Alan, they are in charge of several schools in Europe.

chaimbeul said...

Alan Aversa,

The likely reason that the SSPX has more priests and schools is that the SSPX can do whatever it wants to. They are not under the authority and jurisdiction of the Catholic Church and the local Catholic ordinary. So of course they can open their seminaries and open schools to whomever and wherever they want to, and they have the funds to do so. But those who are under the authority and jurisdiction of the Catholic Church are not allowed the freedom to do whatever they want. The Catholic Church is heirarchical, rather than a democracy. Now of course you'll say that the liberals believe that the Church is a democracy, but at least they too have to be under the authority and jurisdiction of the Church to open a school.

Cruise the Groove. said...

chaimbeul

So why doesnt the authority in the Catholic Church evangelise the youth [part of its mission] by opening traditional Catholic schools? Ones like St Gregorys?

Tom said...

Sad to hear this. We looked at St. Gregs for our older son, and decided to keep him at home. Our current freshman keeps talking about going to St. Greg's... I hadn't the heart to tell him, that though we are solid middle class, we cannot afford the high cost, which I'm sure is not because the Fraternity is getting rich off the school!

Also sad, because the school fed lots of good traditional Catholics into my alma mater, Christendom, helping to "mainstream" traditionalism in a way it was not when I attended.

Come to Virginia and set up your school, Father Flood!

St. Greg's Guy said...

Ecclesia Militans, you wrote:

"Closing this school is actually the FSSP admitting, not in words but in practice, that there is a difference in Faith between the conservatives and the traditionalists."

Is this really a valid conclusion?

Can one fault cloistered nuns for not being Catholic schoolteachers? Or can one say that they are admitting, in practice, that there is a difference in Faith between them and a teaching order? I hope not. Cloistered nuns have a particular charism and teaching is not it.

According to Adfero, it seems that the school has drifted from the FSSP's core charism. So the FSSP is faced with the decision of either trying to get the school back in line with the FSSP's charism, or separating the school and letting it go its own way. It appears to be as simple as that.

Ecclesia Militans said...

Greg,

So esentially what you are saying is that traditional Catholic doctrine is a charism, because this situation was not about the Mass, and we all know the Vatican likes to call the Mass of Ages a charism, but, as reported, about conservatives teaching children.

The Faith is not a charism.
There is only one case in which a traditionalist would be worried about conservatives teaching his children - if he knew they were teaching them a different faith that his.

Now, traditionalists know this is unfortunately true, especially if they have had experience with conservatives' doctrine, but there are many who will not openly or publicly admit that there is a big difference between what they and what the hierarchy and most laymen confess. This action of the FSSP is merely a practical reckognition of that fact.

Adfero said...

"Closing this school is actually the FSSP admitting, not in words but in practice, that there is a difference in Faith between the conservatives and the traditionalists."

Yes, this was made clear by my sources. Let's face it, we're one Church, one Faith, but three clear theologies: one of the liberals, one of the neocons and the true traditional theology. They know this, and are smartly walking away.

Vincent said...

How does one go about deciding whether a layman is "traditional" or not?

Adfero said...

Vincent, a laymen who goes entirely to the Traditional Latin Mass and practices the traditional Catholic theology is a traditional Catholic.

I'm not going to go down this rabbit hole any farther, but that's it. But there were only two there. The rest where Novus Ordo -- by choice, not by necessity.

juan del lobo said...

I don't want to open a can of worms with this one but can someone, for my ignorance's sake, help me to (succinctly) understand what is meant by a conversative vs. a traditionalist Catholic? Thanks.

Also, if they needed traditionalist teachers there, why not advertise? I would've relocated to teach there. Seems so simple...

SGAalum said...

The tensions between the faculty and the Priestly Fraternity that have led to this outcome have not principally concerned the traditional Mass or the doctrine of the Church, but rather cultural approaches to the heritage of Christian culture. The faculty has participated in the great and broad cultural legacy of John Senior and the Kansas University Integrated Humanities Program, and has had a close affinity with Fontgombault and Clear Creek, aspects of which have been in tension with certain tendencies of the cultural approach of the Priestly Fraternity.

Adfero said...

Juan, I don't want to turn this string into this discussion but, in short, a conservative goes to the Novus Ordo by choice but is solid, more or less, on theology (NFP is something that divides many conservatives from traditionals on theology, but on most things we are very close). A traditional, while 100% orthodox on theology, also assists at the Traditional Latin Mass unless absolutely impossible due to distance.

Now, can people shoot holes in this description? Maybe. But it's my personal belief how you describe he two camps. It's Opus Dei (conservative) versus the FSSP or SSPX (traditional),

Andrew said...

I am confused by the term "traditional Catholic teachers." I am a teacher and a Catholic. I attend the Novus Ordo Mass at my local parish. I am 100% loyal to Rome and her teachings. I have a deep respect for the traditional Mass (as I do for all the orthodox Rites of the Church). Am I then not a traditional Catholic? Shouldn't the issue for being a teacher in a Catholic school, like St. Gregory's, be one's orthodoxy not what rite of the Mass they attend? Or are we now at a point where "traditional" Catholics don't think that Catholics like me are really Catholic? Lets alone kids from regular Catholic families. Please say it ain't so. I have such a deep respect for those attached to the traditional rites of the Church. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope they don't think of me as a distant cousin.

Adfero said...

Sga alum, I'm sorry, but it's more than just cultural, and it does have to do with the Mass and theology as well. Culture is just a part of it.

Adfero said...

Andrew, I've already laid out my opinion on what makes a catholic traditional. If I'm white I'm white, I can't say I respect blacks so therefor I'm black. The FSSP has a special, traditional charism. If the people teaching it aren't traditional you lose that charism. It would be like a white man teaching African American studies. He may know the material but it's not authentic.

Adfero said...

Please also be sure to read the post. They don't want laynen running it at all, whether traditional or conservative. They know they need priests teaching for it to be a truly traditional experience for the children.

And, please, let's stop the mushy "I'm not a second class citizen" stuff. We're talking about a special charism, not better or worse. A Dominican shouldn't be teaching in a Franciscan school.

Don Julio said...

Although independent of the FSSP and its parish, this classical boys academy is co-located at a FSSP-run parish in Ohio.

Ecclesia Militans said...

Adfero,

The crucial point in your description is that conservatives are "more or less" solid on theology.

The fact of the matter is, with Traditional Catholics you always know what they believe, e.g. you know that they are appalled by Assisi and by the heresies of NCW.

But when dealing with the conservatives, it is in a way similar to dealing with the protestants - they do not all believe the same, there is a million variations of belief, a million different creeds.

Therefore the description "more or less" is very justified, since their range of beliefs varies from solid, through novel conciliar, all the way to heretical.

So the best description of a conservative is that he feels the conciliar changes have been legitimate and justified and he holds the beliefs expressed in the Second Vatican Council and in the later decades.

The difference between a conservative and a progressive is that the progressive feels that we need to go beyond the Council, to "update" the Church to modern(ist) times and to bring it more close to what he refers to as other "christian" "churches".
He intends to do so by changing the beliefs and ways of the Church, ranging from allowing married priests to allowing sodomite "marriages" and replacing the Mass with a service.

Actually, the notions of these two classes change so what are now called conservatives would be called "progressives" fifty years ago, and what are now called progressives fifty years ago would be called "heretics".

The only one that does not change over the years is the traditionalist, who, incidentally, fifty years ago would be called "Catholic" and recognized as the only one of these who truly is Catholic.

The definition of the traditionalist is that he holds, in every way, to the Immaculate Catholic Faith (and consequently the sacraments) as it was expressed by all the centuries of Catholic teaching, up to the Second Vatican Council, which, along with many or most of the novel postconciliar teachings he either disproves of or outright rejects.

So, the difference is not in the Mass, this is almost incidental, the difference is in the Faith.
Let us be sincere to the conservatives so we can help them to find the Truth - no, it's not just a different charism.

brutus said...

Adfero,
your comment about teaching is based on an understanding of ethos before an audience, namely boys at a catholic school. To say that someone who is not traditional, but is teaching perfectly in line with the FSSP's mission, loses the charism of the Fraternity, seems rather presumptuous. I agree it is like a white teacher of African American studies, but I fail to see how that is not authentic. I was under the impression that teaching well was based primarily on your understanding of and ability to present a given material, not on a personal connection. We are all bound by the laws of Physics,but that does not qualify all of us to teach Physics does it?

Adfero said...

Brutus, you are missing the point. Parents of traditional children weren't sending their children there because it wasn't a fully "traditional experience". You are looking at this as simply teaching children in a classroom. The FSSP rightly understands it to be a whole traditional experience that molds young boys into traditional men and hopefully traditional priests.

brutus said...

Yes. I agree it is much more than just an education in the classroom setting. However. the traditional catholics on payroll are dormfathers at the school, those who would have the most time molding the boys into men. It is a job suited to a layman, and they are traditional. I dont understand what the problem there is. The fact that you mention they want to mold "hopefully traditional priests" brings up the cultural point made by SGA alum. St Gregorys Academy was not and is not a minor seminary. That is not the same thing as a traditional education. It is a good thing and necessary, however Dr John Senior's vision of Catholic education, based on the teachings of ST Benedict, is to form Catholic men. Priests, Husbands, Religious and single men alike. They all share the same moral values and love of the Good, True and Beautiful

Adfero said...

Brutus: It is a job suited to a layman, and they are traditional

The FSSP disagrees with you on both points.