The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, May 22, 2009
Catholic School Run by Cult-like Group Closes; SNAP Responds
Statement by David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 314 566 9790
Very early on, we in SNAP heard from concerned parents who removed their kids from Gateway because of troubling signs and situations. Frankly, we worry about the safety of children in any institution run by the secretive, cult-like Legion of Christ.
Almost any time any school closes it's sad, because families need and deserve educational options. In this case, however, we are confident that kids are better off without Gateway. (The Legion's difficulties and controversies have been well-documented - in news articles, books and a documentary film. Its bizarre founder reportedly molested dozens of boys and was essentially forced to retire by the Vatican.)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 20 years and have more than 8,000 members across the country. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747)
Private Catholic high school in Chesterfield will close
By Valerie Schremp Hahn ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 05/22/2009
CHESTERFIELD — Gateway Academy, a private Catholic school in Chesterfield for preschoolers through 12th grade, will close its high school in the fall.
Gateway, which had just over 100 students at the high school level for the last few years, had been trying to build the program but just couldn't in the tough St. Louis private high school market, said Terri O'Daniel, spokeswoman for the school.
Gateway administrators told parents the news during a meeting at the school Wednesday evening.
"It's a wonderful school, and we're really sad, but the reality is the economy is not great," said parent Anastasia Rothkopf. "People have lost their jobs, and now we're scrambling for a high school."
Gateway opened in 1991 to 56 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. By 1996, the school had expanded to 12th grade. The school has more than 400 students, and would have had about 100 students in the high school next year, with 60 registered so far.
The school employs 21 high school teachers, but it is unclear how many of them will lose their jobs, O'Daniel said.
Annual tuition for seventh through 12th grade is $9,700. Seniors graduated last weekend, and the last day of school for other students is Friday.
Two of the Rothkopf's seven children graduated from the school, and two attend currently. Their son, Benjamin, would have entered his freshman year at Gateway but will probably attend Marquette High in the Rockwood School District. The Rothkopfs will likely enroll their second-grader, Lydia, in Rockwood, mainly because she has health issues and the public school district can better serve her, they said.
"It's like there's been a death in the family, everybody is just saddened by it," Rothkopf said. "The school was just more than a school, it was a community, like most Catholic schools are."
The school was started by the Regnum Christi movement, an apostolic movement in the Catholic Church. The group patterned the school after schools started in Mexico by the Legionaries of Christ, a religious order.
Mary Ann and Fritz Baumgartner have four children at the school. Their oldest, also named Fritz, will be entering eighth grade next year. The Baumgartners expected all their children to graduate from the high school.
"We're all very sad about it," said Mary Ann Baumgartner. "It's truly Catholic. That's what I loved it. All the teachers there, and all the priests and all the religious faculty — everyone, they're in step with Rome."
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests