Akron Beacon Journal Spotlights STVM's Marianist Sponsorship

Aug 08, 2017

Go to the Akron Beacon Journal's website to read the article and to view pictures

By Monica L. Thomas 
Beacon Journal staff writer 

St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, long an independent school, is gaining support in its mission to give its students a faith-based education.

The Catholic school has announced sponsorship by the Society of Mary (Marianists) religious order. 

The designation is “a great way to enhance our school’s Catholic identity,” said Principal Robert Brownfield, who just finished his first year at the school’s helm. Brownfield was previously a teacher at the school for nine years and is a St. V-M graduate.

The school had been a diocesan-sponsored high school until the 1990s, when it became an independent Catholic high school, Brownfield said, meaning it did not have an affiliated religious order. 

Its tie to the Marianists means it will have the order’s guidance, be able to make use of their resources and participate in their professional development opportunities for teachers. St. V-M joins Marianist high schools Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School in Cleveland, Chaminade Julienne High School in Dayton and Archbishop Moeller and Purcell Marian Catholic high schools in Cincinnati, as well as University of Dayton. Its provincial head office is in St. Louis. Nationally, the order also sponsors St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and Chaminade University of Honolulu, as well as 18 secondary and middle schools, six parishes and four retreat centers.

Founded by Blessed William Joseph Chaminade in 1817 in France, the Marianists are an international Catholic religious order of priests and brothers, with about 300 serving in the United States. The order has had a presence in the United States since 1849, when they first came to Ohio.

Their charism, or way they live out their Catholic faith, is focused on using Jesus’ mother Mary “as a transformative power for bringing Christ into the world,” Brownfield said. 

Sponsorship means “we’ll have a larger network of support to help us do our job even better as a Catholic high school,” Brownfield said. 

“It’s going to help our students understand there’s more to life than just your four years in high school,” said high school President Thomas Carone. “This is going to be a way of life, how you treat people and how you should treat people.” 

Brownfield said the designation will “enhance but not necessarily change” the current curriculum. 

“This is kind of the identity we didn’t really know we had, but have always had,” he said. “Their [way of life] really fits well with our school.” It focuses on community building, social justice outreach, welcoming and hospitality and diversity and inclusion.

“All of those things really are great strengths that we have already,” he said. “The fact that their order has these aspects as key to who they are, it’s a perfect fit.”

Brownfield said the sponsorship would help the school strengthen its retreat and campus ministry programs. 

The sponsorship agreement came about after nearly four years of discussions. A formal celebration will take place in October. 

When students return to school in a few weeks, there will be a few subtle changes. A script M with a cross over it will be added to the school’s letterhead and the phrase “A Catholic school in the Marianist tradition” will be added. Students began saying the order’s Three O’Clock Prayer last year. A group of students already participated in a retreat over the summer. 

Other high schools sponsored by religious orders in the Akron area are Archbishop Hoban, Brothers of Holy Cross; Walsh Jesuit, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits); and Our Lady of the Elms, Dominican Sisters of Peace.