Archdiocese recognizes 3 independent schools

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer

The Archdiocese of Louisville announced Jan. 21 that it has recognized Corpus Christi Classical Academy and Immaculata Classical Academy as independent Catholic schools. The archdiocese also has renewed and expanded its recognition of Holy Angels Academy.

All three schools have been serving students in the Catholic tradition for years. But because they weren’t established by a parish or a religious order, church law required them to seek recognition from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, according to Leisa Schulz, superintendent of schools for the archdiocese.

  • Holy Angels, located at 12201 Old Henry Road, offers kindergarten through high school to 67 students.
  •  Immaculata, located at 3044 Hikes Lane, serves about 165 students in preschool through high school, including students with special needs.
  •  Corpus Christi in Simpsonville, Ky., offers preschool through high school.

The announcement released by the archdiocese last week cites Canon Law 803, which “provides for a school to be considered a Catholic school when the archbishop recognizes it as such by means of a written document.”

The newly recognized schools now are “under the umbrella” of the archdiocese, said Dr. Brian Reynolds, chancellor and chief administrative officer of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

“I’m excited by the growth this signifies,” said Reynolds. “The Catholic community will be serving more students.”

All three schools, he said, now have the full support of the archdiocese. This support includes access to all the services offered by the superintendent’s office — marketing materials, access to grants, resources for teachers and principals and educational materials.

Children who attend these schools will also be eligible to apply for tuition assistance from the Catholic Education Foundation.

The formal process by which the schools have been recognized was created in 2015. It was approved by Archbishop Kurtz and serves as a guide for the creation of new, independent Catholic schools as well as a guide for the recognition of schools that have already been established, said Reynolds.

The creation of this process was one of the aims of the archdiocese’s elementary school plan, which was unveiled in November 2014, he added.
“When the schools approached the archdiocese and asked if it would be possible to be recognized, we said yes, but had to prepare a process,” said Reynolds.

The process outlines criteria for recognition, including:

  • participation in safe environment policies of the archdiocese, including criminal background record checks, safe environment workshops and safe environment curriculum.
  • Participation in a review process every three years of the religious education, sacramental life and Catholic identity of the school by archdiocesan officials.
  • Maintenance of a close and collaborative relationship with local pastors and parishes, especially in the areas of religious education and sacramental life.

Joseph Norton, headmaster of Holy Angels, said the school is looking forward to working closely with the archdiocese. Holy Angels was founded in 1973 by a group of parents with the assistance of Dominican Sister Mary Elise Groves.

Though Archbishop Thomas J. McDonough granted “initial permission” to Holy Angels to be an independent Catholic school in 1973, the school had little interaction with and support from the archdiocese, said Reynolds. The “renewed and expanded recognition” of the school changes that, he said.

Norton said the school educates children in “the classical tradition,” training the mind “to think in the pursuit of truth.”

He said the school’s renewed recognition will “give us the opportunity to shine the light on what we’re doing” throughout the archdiocese, he said.

Corpus Christi Classical Academy, which has been serving students in Simpsonville for 17 years, is the only Catholic school in Shelby County. It offers a Montessori program for children ages 3 to 6 and classical curriculum for students in kindergarten through high school. It currently serves 33 students.

Leslie Genuis, principal of Corpus Christi, said the school has been waiting for recognition since it opened. She called the decision a “great moment.”

“This will impact how the rest of the archdiocese sees us,” she said. “Our working relationship with local parishes and the archdiocese will be clearer.”

Genuis said she hopes this new recognition will impact the growth of the school by providing another option for parents in the area.

Immaculata has been serving students since 2010. The school opened with 19 students and now serves 165 students in preschool through high school, said Justin Fout, the school’s principal.

Immaculata offers a classical liberal arts program and Fout said that it’s one of the only “Christ-centered” schools in the area that integrates students with special needs. Immaculata has served students born with Down, Asperger and Prader-Willi syndromes.

“We are very excited to officially be a part of the Archdiocese of Louisville,” said Fout, who noted that he has met with teachers and parents to discuss the benefits of this decision.

“Michael and Penny Michalak founded the school with the blessing of the archbishop,” said Fout. “Every step they’ve taken has been with the archbishop’s blessing, so this feels like everything coming to fruition.”

Schulz and Reynolds said the recognition of these three schools provides more choices for families interested in Catholic education.

“The Archdiocese of Louisville is fortunate to have an array of diverse schools committed to a common mission of Catholic education,” said Schulz.

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