Bp. DiLorenzo issues statement on Benedictine
Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo has issued the following statement meant to clarify his support of Benedictine College Preparatory in Richmond:
From time to time we hear comments regarding my opinion on various matters. When this occurs and when the matter is deemed significant in nature, it is my responsibility to clarify for the Christian faithful my position with regard to the issue.
Benedictine College Preparatory was founded in 1911 by a group of Benedictine monks from Belmont Abbey, North Carolina. For the past 100 years, and continuing today, Benedictine is a Catholic high school for young men, and the operation and mission of the school continues to be the responsibility of the Benedictine monks. I was pleased to witness the 100th Anniversary of this storied Catholic institution.
Last year after a great deal of study, the Benedictine community, in collaboration with the school’s leadership and their advisors, announced their decision to relocate the high school to their River Road Abbey Complex located in Goochland County. Their decision has been well publicized and the school’s administrators have provided details on their planned move.
I believe that ensuring the continuation of a Catholic high school to serve the young men of Richmond is of significant importance, so when the Diocese of Richmond entered into negotiations for the purchase of the Sheppard Street property from the Benedictine Society of Virginia (the “BSV”), I planned for a variety of contingencies.
Assuming that the school would move to the Goochland site as planned, I agreed to not operate a high school in the Sheppard Street school building for a period of six years, i.e. a “non-compete” agreement.
However, if for some reason the school was not able to move its operation, I wanted to give the BSV the option to purchase the school building and the gymnasium from the Diocese in order to ensure that Benedictine would have a home in either case.
If the school cannot move, the BSV would have the option to re-purchase only the school building and gymnasium, while the priory building and the parking lot would remain under the ownership of the Diocese for St. Benedict Parish.
In yet another scenario, should the Benedictine community choose to exit the business of operating a high school in the Richmond area, including their property in Goochland County, I would have the right to operate the school and it would be my intention to continue to operate the school in the Benedictine tradition.
I entered into this agreement after consulting with my priests, finance, and pastoral councils. I believe this arrangement has significant benefits for both the BSV and the Catholic Diocese, respectively, as it provides the BSV with the options that they are seeking with regard to the continued operation of the school and it enables this property to remain in support of the Catholic mission so critical to St. Benedict Parish, Richmond.
I am bound by this written purchase agreement and it is my obligation to uphold this arrangement on behalf of the Diocese. Should the periods outlined in the agreement run beyond my retirement, my successors in office will then make any and all decisions in this matter.
At present, Benedictine College Preparatory is diligently working to execute its relocation plan and the Benedictine community is completely in charge. As I have often said, I am grateful for the long-standing service of the Benedictine community, I support Benedictine College Preparatory and I am hopeful for their continued success in all their endeavors.
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