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May 27, 2013 | Volume 88, Number 15

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photo: Students from St. Benedict Catholic School in Richmond who received awards in the National Latin Exam sponsored by the American Classical League and the National Junior Classical League and involved adults are, from left, Aaron Maddeford, Latin Teacher; Bradford Dudley; John Paul Nyunt; Oliver Sibal; Annette Parsons, Chief Administrator of the diocese’s Office of Catholic Education; Jack Ferris; Father James F. Kauffmann, pastor of St. Benedict Parish; Rachel Lewis; Catherine Snellings; Jacob De La Cruz; and Sean Cruess, principal.
Students from St. Benedict Catholic School in Richmond who received awards in the National Latin Exam sponsored by the American Classical League and the National Junior Classical League and involved adults are, from left, Aaron Maddeford, Latin Teacher; Bradford Dudley; John Paul Nyunt; Oliver Sibal; Annette Parsons, Chief Administrator of the diocese’s Office of Catholic Education; Jack Ferris; Father James F. Kauffmann, pastor of St. Benedict Parish; Rachel Lewis; Catherine Snellings; Jacob De La Cruz; and Sean Cruess, principal.

Diocese, St. Benedict’s study ‘magnet’ middle school

The Diocese of Richmond and St. Benedict Catholic School in Richmond are exploring the possibility of forming what could become a “magnet school” for Richmond area middle school students in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

The STEAM project would also have “a strong faith and ethical component,” said Annette Parsons, Chief Educational Administrator of the diocese’s Office of Catholic Education.

The new educational program would be offered initially to 6th, 7th and 8th grade students of St. Benedict’s who would attend classes in the building currently occupied by Benedictine College Preparatory in Richmond’s Museum District. The all-boys military school will be moving to their newly expanded campus at Mary Mother of the Church Benedictine Abbey in Goochland County at the end of the current school year.

The Diocese purchased the Benedictine building last year from the Benedictine Society of Virginia so that parishioners of St. Benedict Parish and visitors could use the parking lot adjacent to the school. Use of the parking area by the parish would have been in doubt if other owners had purchased the property.

“The program will build on the classical educational program already in place at St. Benedict’s,” Mrs. Parsons said.

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo has been made aware of the planning process since it was initiated.

“The Bishop and I have faith that this project will be successful in fulfilling our commitment to Catholic education,” said Father James Kauffmann, pastor of St. Benedict’s.

“This endeavor will create opportunities for the children and youth of Richmond and build on the legacy of the many Benedictine religious who have staffed both St. Benedict and Benedictine over the years,” he added. Ms. Parsons met with Father Kauffmann and the faculty of St. Benedict School on May 17 to provide information on the new educational program.

Father Kauffmann informed St. Benedict parishioners in an email message and during Sunday Mass the weekend of May 18-19.

As the STEAM project moves forward, Bishop DiLorenzo will appoint a Director of Education to oversee the school, the project itself and work with a team to determine an appropriate implementation strategy and timeline. Sean Cruess, St. Benedict School principal, will be part of this process.

“During the coming year, the Director of Education will work closely with the Office of Catholic Schools, Mr. Cruess, who will continue as principal of the pre-k through 5th grade Lower School, and parish and school communities,” Mrs. Parsons said.

The Diocese and St. Benedict School are in the process of finalizing the appointment of the Director and expect to announce his or her appointment before the school graduation in June.

“We ask for your prayers and support as we enter into this partnership,” Father Kauffmann said.

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