Statement to the Brebeuf Jesuit Community
Below is a message that was sent to the Brebeuf Jesuit Community on Thursday, June 20, 2019.
Dear Brebeuf Jesuit Community,
On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, we write to share news regarding Brebeuf Jesuit’s relationship with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. We want to inform you, our faithful members of the Brebeuf Jesuit community, of this news first and invite you to pray with us for a peaceful and just outcome.
Brebeuf Jesuit was founded in 1962 as an independent Catholic Jesuit school. While we’ve enjoyed a collaborative partnership with the Archdiocese for nearly 57 years, we have always maintained control of our school’s operations and governance, including our personnel decisions. It is our understanding that the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, at the direction of Archbishop Charles Thompson, will no longer formally recognize Brebeuf Jesuit as a Catholic school in the Archdiocese. We understand that a formal decree announcing the Archdiocese’s decision will be published in The Criterion on or around Friday, June 21.
A Sincere Disagreement
The decree follows a sincere and significant disagreement between the Archdiocese, on the one hand, and Brebeuf Jesuit and the USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus, on the other, regarding whether the Archdiocese or our school’s leaders should make final governance decisions related to internal administrative matters at Brebeuf Jesuit and, in particular, the employment status of our faculty and staff. Specifically, Brebeuf Jesuit has respectfully declined the Archdiocese’s insistence and directive that we dismiss a highly capable and qualified teacher due to the teacher being a spouse within a civilly-recognized same-sex marriage.
To our knowledge, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ direct insertion into an employment matter of a school governed by a religious order is unprecedented; this is a unique action among the more than 80 Jesuit secondary/pre-secondary schools which operate in dioceses throughout North America, along with the countless Catholic schools operated by other religious orders such as the Christian Brothers, Dominicans, and Xaverian Brothers.
After long and prayerful consideration, we determined that following the Archdiocese’s directive would not only violate our informed conscience on this particular matter, but also set a concerning precedent for future interference in the school’s operations and other governance matters that Brebeuf Jesuit leadership has historically had the sole right and privilege to address and decide.
What’s more, we also recognize the harm that adhering to this mandate would cause our highly capable and qualified teachers and staff. As an institution with a mission to develop men and women for others, our intent has been to do the right thing by the people we employ while preserving our authority as an independent, Catholic Jesuit school.
Brebeuf Jesuit’s Continued Catholic Identity
Since our founding, Brebeuf Jesuit’s mission as a Catholic institution has been derived from the Society of Jesus—the Jesuits—who represent the largest order of men in the Catholic Church. This position has been affirmed in our close consultation with both the USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus and Brebeuf Jesuit’s canon lawyer. While we appreciate our long-standing partnership with the Archdiocese, which praised Brebeuf Jesuit’s Catholic mission in a recent evaluation, we are disheartened that the Archbishop has chosen to end our formal relationship. Nevertheless, our identity as a Catholic Jesuit institution remains unchanged.
Whereas the Archdiocese of Indianapolis may choose to no longer attend or participate in the school’s Masses and formal functions, Brebeuf Jesuit is, and will always be, a Catholic Jesuit school. The Archdiocese has assured us that Jesuit priests may continue to serve at Brebeuf Jesuit and will retain their ability to celebrate the sacraments of the Catholic Church.
What Happens Next
As we look to the school year ahead, Brebeuf Jesuit’s Board of Trustees and school leadership will remain focused on providing an exceptional education within the Jesuit tradition. We are prayerfully discerning how best to proceed with the process of appealing the Archdiocese’s directive.
We understand that this news will likely spur a host of emotions, questions and even confusion in the days ahead. Please be assured, the Archdiocese’s decision will not change the mission or operations of Brebeuf Jesuit. With more than 8,000 graduates over nearly six decades, the mission of Brebeuf Jesuit is being lived around the world. We will continue to offer a rigorous academic program that follows more than 450 years of Jesuit tradition and is committed to expansive and critical thinking, competent and compassionate ethical concern, creative and artistic expression, and excellence grounded in faith and the dignity of the human person.
We urge members of the Brebeuf Jesuit community to be respectful of all parties involved, and we ask that you join us in keeping our students, faculty, staff and the entire Catholic community of greater Indianapolis in your thoughts and prayers.
We will keep you apprised of any new developments, and we invite you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, concerns and feedback.
Fr. William Verbryke, S.J. – President
W. Patrick Bruen ’79 – Board of Trustees, Chair
Daniel M. Lechleiter ’97 – Board of Trustees, Chair-elect
Information Meeting for Current Parents
On Monday, June 24 at 5:00 p.m., we invite all current parents to attend an informational session in the Chapel regarding the above announcement. Through this session, school leadership will provide additional reassurance and clarity regarding the impact of this announcement on our operations.
While we understand many from our broader community may wish to hear from school leadership at this time, we ask those that are not current parents to please refrain from attending. The leadership team promises to continue communicating with our broader community and provide forthcoming opportunities to engage with our alumni, alumni parents, students, and friends in the near future. We appreciate your understanding and continued prayers during this time.
Public Letter from Very Reverend Brian Paulson, S.J. – Provincial of the USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus
Please click here to read the public letter.