Saint Louis Abbey and
the Saint Louis Priory School
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Saint Louis Abbey was founded in 1955. The lay people of Saint Louis who invited the monks of Ampleforth Abbey desired to have a boys’ school, rooted in the classical tradition of English ‘public’ schools. Ampleforth agreed to engage in this project with the understanding that it would found a monastery that would serve as the core of the project.
Saint Louis Priory School opened its doors in September of 1956. Its Mission was (and is) to provide a Benedictine, Catholic, college-preparatory education of the highest excellence for talented and motivated young men. Over the past 60 years, Priory has remained true to that mission.
While academics is core to the Mission of the School, its true heart lies in its spiritual mission, and the commitment of the monks to further the spiritual and moral, intellectual and physical development of every student. The monks are active in all aspects of school life, both in and outside of the classroom, and their vow of stability provides the foundation for all that the school endeavors to nurture in its students.
Way of Life.
As a Catholic school, our first aim is the transmission of the faith to our students, and the equipping them with the skills they need to nurture their faith as they grow older. The particular ‘flavor’ of that program of faith formation is in the spirituality of the Benedictine way of life.
In many ways, what the Rule of Saint Benedict says about the development of the faith of a monk is directly applicable to the development of the faith of a student. For Benedictines, the key element in faith formation is the desire to “seek God” in community, under the guidance of a Rule of life and a spiritual teacher. A Benedictine school forms its students the same way: As a spiritual family, the school community “seeks God” and lives together the Christian way life guided by the experience of its teachers in the ways of faith. Essential to the Benedictine way of formation is the notion that a person grows spiritually by the day-to-day living with others who similarly are “seeking God.” Thus, the communitarian aspect of Benedictine spirituality is essential for the spiritual formation of students in a Benedictine school.
At Priory, students are helped to form character and faith through day-to-day living together in a Christian community. That experience is double-edged: It both provides them with positive role models (hence every member of the faculty and staff has some role to play in showing the best example possible of what living a Christian life looks like), and also shows them the reality of human failure and sin. Priory is not “heaven on earth,” but grounded in the reality of humanity, full of successes and failings. This experience encourages personal growth and the acceptance of ourselves, our Church, and one another.
We are Teachers,
We are Students.
Essential to “seeking God” is worship. At Priory, worship is clearly a high priority, and affords the students the opportunity to grow in their experience of God.
In Benedictine spiritual formation, the ultimate ‘teacher’ is the Lord Jesus himself, who mediates his teaching (above all) through the magisterium of the Church; this teaching is related to both monk and the student.
One absolutely central element in the Benedictine way of spiritual formation is the practice in monasteries of lectio divina — the prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture with the “ears of the heart” and the eye of faith. In this method of reading the Bible, one sees the words on the page (or the words proclaimed in the classroom or in Church) as God’s words to me in my life at this very moment — words which provoke in me (if I am open to them) some kind of response back to God. Lectio divina is the “meat and potatoes” of a monk’s prayer, and we pray that it will become the same for our students (and their families as well), for it is an invaluable and inexhaustible source of spiritual nourishment and inspiration.
How does all this help our kids “face the world”? Obviously, there is no easy or sure-fire way to prevent our children from being corrupted by the values of our society. But we believe profoundly that by allowing them to grow over these six years in an environment that is explicitly and self-consciously Christian, by nurturing them through the experience of community life and by giving them the tools they need (the regular reception of the Sacraments, frequent corporate worship, growth in personal prayer and lectio divina) to nurture their spiritual lives after they leave Priory — we give them the best chance possible to help them remain strong committed Christians in the world they face.
Saint Louis Abbey and
the Saint Anselm Parish
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Saint Anselm Parish is in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. Parish origins and present life are closely linked to the monks of Saint Louis Abbey.
When Cardinal Ritter established the Parish of Saint Anselm in August 1966, Father Robert P. Slattery was named Pastor to serve the rapidly increasing population of West County. Prior Columba, the Prior of the monastery invited Father Slattery to use the monastic church until a new church could be built on Ladue Road. A relationship began as a temporary accommodation deepened and in May of 1968, representatives of the Archdiocese and the monks signed agreements that the Parish of St. Anselm be formally constituted on the grounds of Saint Louis Priory. At this time, agreements concerning the sharing of expenses and buildings were drafted. In 1972, Monsignor Slattery built a parish house and, later, a Parish Center that contains offices, classrooms, assembly rooms, kitchens and a chapel.
In March 1981, Monsignor Slattery was appointed Director of Catholic Charities and, in accord with the agreements of 1968, Archbishop May offered administration of the Parish to the Benedictine Community. Father Timothy Horner, O.S.B. was appointed the first monk Pastor and confirmed by the Archbishop on May 31, 1981.