A beautiful Catholic school

This is wonderful.

Atonement Academy, is a classical, college preparatory school for grades pre-K through 12th. It is the parish school of Our Lady of the Atonement Parish and is located in San Antonio, TX.

Yes, friends, it is still possible to do beautiful things.

There is one element in the video that I want to emphasize.  The pastor has been there for over 30 years.

As long as there is a revolving door of pastors, we won’t be able to build wonderful things like this.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. momofmany says:

    Twenty-five years ago I got kicked out of my high-school Confirmation class because I objected to a heretical video the teacher was showing. Since we were going to San Antonio on vacation that summer, my mom arranged for me to talk to Fr. Phillips. He asked me excellent questions and then decided I could be confirmed with his parish. I am eternally grateful to him for that sacrament!

  2. Sawyer says:

    It’s an Anglican use Catholic parish, the same one that was the subject of a dispute that was recently resolved when the Holy See ordered the parish to be transferred from the control of the diocese to the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter.

  3. LeeF says:

    I have heard a lot of friends over the years grouse about more modern parish church buildings, including the way the buildings are constructed. The simple fact is that the costs would be prohibitive to build 500/1000 year buildings like they used to do. Priests and bishops had to beg all over to get funds to build them even then, including ethnic priests traveling back to Europe to beg funds for a new building in America. Another fact is that given the economic demographics of many parishes, they could not afford to maintain such older style buildings even if given to them gratis.

    The real point of Father Z’s post here is that it is possible to do beautiful interiors with any type of building. In fact I’d take a concrete slab with brick only up a few feet and metal after that including the roof, with a healthy part of the money available spent on a beautiful interior.

    Maintenance should always be kept in mind though. Like with cushioned pews where the cushion does not have a removable base but instead is attached directly to the pew, meaning an on-site expensive upholstery job when those cushions inevitably get trashed far sooner than expected. Same with recessed lighting 30 feet up where it takes bringing in a scissor bucket truck to reach them (and no matter the time rating of bulbs, turning them on and off is what stresses them).

  4. Joseph-Mary says:

    I would attend holy Mass at Our Lady of the Atonement when my parents lived in San Antonio. I loved to go there! And I have attended the students’ Mass and it is so wonderful. The children are taught to sing and they are not only excellent at it but they are reverent and well behaved. Also well dressed in their uniforms too.

    So glad that Our Lady of the Atonement parish and academy were saved by being transferred to the Ordinariate. It is true that they are not like the other parishes in town and that is the reason many drive across town to attend Mass there. My parents went to a mega Catholic Church, an ugly big brick thing and I happily drove past it when I would go to Our Lady of the Atonement.

  5. bombcar says:

    Anyone have an example letter I can send to the bishop requesting stability for a good pastor running a school?

  6. PTK_70 says:

    Your Excellency,
    I humbly implore that you grant stability to our good pastor who has been masterful in the administration of St. Isidore Catholic School.
    With filial devotion,

  7. ejcmartin says:

    Seeing this depresses me to no end. Listening to our archbishop’s homily at last evening’s Chrism Mass, it is apparent he is on side with the “powers that be” who are pushing headlong to “liturgy minister” parish model as now being promoted by Cardinal Marx in Germany. Our diocese is a mess. Pray for us.

  8. FrAnt says:

    In my diocese, a pastor’s term is six years, and he is allowed only two terms. I am approaching the end of my second term and several times I have said to myself and sometimes to others, “The next pastor can take care of that.” I have done a lot to “maintain” our parish buildings, and have gotten to the point where some large and necessary changes can be made, but I don’t have enough time to begin them, this is when I find myself saying, “The next pastor…”
    Watching the video above and Fr. Z’s observation about lifetime pastors, I can see what many of the parishes in my diocese, and others, are missing.

  9. billy15 says:

    A beautiful school indeed; I’d love to send my kids there.

    Fr. Z (and all priests reading this), I was under the impression that the reason for having rotating pastors in any given diocese is so a cult of personality doesn’t develop. Has this always been the case in the Latin Rite, or was it something that occurred only in the 20th century?

    I have to say, while I love my current pastor, and the pastor before him, I think it’s a good idea to have a rotation. Think of St. Sabina’s in Chicago. Sure the Mass is said there each day, but is it more a Catholic parish, or a cult of personality surrounding Fr. Pfleger? Several times Fr. Pfleger was about to be moved, until many of the parishoners said they would leave the Catholic Church if he was moved elsewhere. How awful is that?! Now for whatever reason, other priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago have had to move after their 2 (or the rare 3) terms at a parish, but Fr. Pfleger remained, to the detriment of the local Church at Chicago, as well as the Church as a whole. To avoid these developments of a cult of personality, this is why I support the term restrictions. What do you think?

    [I think the real reason why the 6/12 year policy is in place is because that way bishops don’t have to work things out with priests with whom they have challenges. All they have to do with wait them out.]

  10. lmgilbert says:

    A visit to their website at atonementonline.com reveals among many other beautiful things: ” At The Atonement Academy, students are introduced to Latin in kindergarten and continue until graduation in twelfth grade. Students at The Atonement Academy study Latin because it is fundamental to understanding the nature of grammar, the origins of our culture, and the roots of the English language. As the mother tongue of so much of Europe, Latin is also a great introduction to all the Romance languages.”

    However, there is one aspect to their program that is gut-wrenching and that is the $8,000 per year tuition from pre-K through high school. At least compared with Catholic high schools in Portland, where the range is roughly $12-16,000, that is a very good deal indeed, and yet . . . A couple following the teaching of the Church and being open to life, as my parents were, would find their children-very ironically- priced out of getting a top-notch Catholic education. So in addition to long term pastors we badly need men and women religious staffing our Catholic schools once again, and for that we need bishops and priests to preach the excellence of religious life, yes, its superiority to marriage, for . . .

    “In religious life one lives more purely,
    Falls more rarely,
    Rises more promptly,
    Advances more surely,
    Receives more graces,
    Reposes more serenely,
    Dies more calmly,
    Is cleansed more quickly,
    And in Heaven receives a greater reward.”
    -St. Bernard of Clairvaux

  11. billy15: it pays to ask ourselves why nobody noticed the cult of personality problem for so many centuries, until our time. Can it possibly have to do with the new Mass, which allows itself to be stamped with a priest’s idiosyncrasies and encourages him to play up to the crowd? Have you noticed the varying degrees to which the Novus Ordo is recognizable as the Mass from parish to parish? It’s impossible to get away from the priest’s personality at Mass, because he’s constantly waving it in our faces. There seems to be this idea that he’s not “pastoral” unless he does this.

    But the shuffling of pastors is also a part of the world’s general assault on marriage and the family in general, and fathers and fatherhood in particular. The Church and the family are supposed to be models of each other, and we have destroyed that. So many children grow up in households with a revolving-door conga line of stepfathers, none of whom is personally invested in their well-being; now it is the same with parishes. Parishes and families are no longer viewed as organic institutions grounded in commitment, but are now just arrangements of convenience; and when the convenience ends, we just replace the father and move on to the next one.

    I also think — and have said for years — that one of the main purposes of the parish shuffle has been to cover up priestly abuse. If all priests have to move around, it’s harder to figure out who the bad apples are.

  12. Henry Edwards says:

    For a real eye-opener, take a look at this recent “children’s Mass” at Atonement Academy:


    With the ordinary and propers chanted by the kids themselves. And think (if you haven’t blocked out the awful memory) about the last so-called children’s Mass in a local parish near you.

  13. Joseph-Mary says:

    We have a new pastor. I was denied an appointment with him. How will we ever get to know him or he us if he will not speak to his parishioners. Everything is filtered by the staff and a person cannot just call or email the pastor. I did get permission for a Divine Mercy holy hour as I managed to invite Father to breakfast after a morning Mass but even though I am at the parish at least 3 times a week, I have not even seen him since! And so far cannot get the staff to put info on Divine Mercy into the bulletin or anything. Frustrating.

  14. billy15 says:

    Anita Moore-

    A great response, thank you. I was genuinely curious in asking others’ opinions, and didn’t know when the whole term thing started. So would I be correct in assuming that the rotation of pastors didn’t start until the 20th century? Is this something we only see in North America, or throughout the world in the Latin Rite? You give a good perspective though on why it would be wise to keep a pastor for a long time.

  15. majuscule says:

    We don’t have a school. Since mid 2010 we have had one pastor and then five priest administrators. This was quite a change since the previous pastor had served two terms. We are due a new “official” pastor this summer.

    Believe me, the turnover is not good for the continuity of the parish!

  16. Alice says:

    “As long as there is a revolving door of pastors, we won’t be able to build wonderful things like this.”

    AMEN! I served as organist for a parish for seven years under five different pastors. Priest A was very traditional. Priest B liked music of every kind. Priest C didn’t care. Priest D absolutely forbade chant. I quit when Priest E decided to do recorded music for the Communion meditation every week. We fulfilled our Sunday obligation at the parish recently and they’re back to chant…until the priest changes.

  17. Mary Jane says:

    Beautiful video. This school looks fantastic. The tuition fees are not cheap…our oldest is in Kindergarten this year (Kolbe Academy) and if he were enrolled at Atonement his yearly tuition looks to be just shy of $8k…not including the admission fee (which is really high). The cost of the school is really prohibitive, at least for our family (5 children so far).

    But, for those who can afford it, it looks fantastic.

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